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Friday, June 19, 2020

The Legislating Supreme Court, and Congress

Monday the Supreme Court issued its opinion In the Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia case.

Minority Leader Senator Schumer of New York was quick to praise the Bostock opinion Monday and Tuesday:

Monday, June 15, 2020
• “before today, it was not a settled legal matter that you could sue your employer for firing you solely on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual identity.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2020
• The Supreme Court “should be” “moving us in a direction of equality and fairness”
• “Only a few days ago, our laws didn't clearly establish that you couldn't be fired by your employer simply because of who you are and whom you love.”

If it “was not a settled legal matter” or “our laws didn't clearly establish,” then that means this matter was not previously addressed in law.

If that changed with a Supreme Court opinion, then this is new law from the Supreme Court.

Senator Hawley of Missouri also spoke on Tuesday about the Bostock case:
I have now had a chance to read the case, the decision by the majority of the Court, and the two dissenting opinions.

I have to say I agree with the news reports that have said that this is truly a seismic decision. It is truly a historic decision. It is truly a historic piece of legislation.

This piece of legislation changes the scope of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

It changes the meaning of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

It changes the text of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In fact, you might well argue it is one of the most significant and far-reaching updates to that historic piece of legislation since it was adopted all of those years ago.

Make no mistake, this decision, this piece of legislation will have effects that range from employment law to sports to churches.

There is only one problem with this piece of legislation.

It was issued by a court, not by a legislature.

It was written by judges, not by the elected representatives of the people.

And it did what this Congress has pointedly declined to do for years now, which is to change the text and the meaning and the application and the scope of a historic piece of legislation.

He continued…

Thursday, June 18, 2020 — Equality Act debate

Senator Merkley of Oregon came to the Senate floor and called for the Senate to take up and immediately pass the Equality Act, H.R. 5.

While claiming to be “a big believer in religious freedom,” Senator Booker of New Jersey, anticipating the objection to come, described reasons of religious liberty as “excuses” to “deny” people liberty and instead inflict “dehumanizing treatment” on them.

Several senators objected to bypassing committee and passing the bill on the floor, raising religious liberty concerns. Senator Lankford of Oklahoma cited several examples of how the legislation “opens up litigation all over the country on every area, not just on this issue of LGBT rights—on every situation and every hiring because it is very expansive.”

Senator Merkley responded:
My colleagues have also referred to how somehow this bill affects religious rights, and I am taken back through the history of the conversation and dialogue about equality and opportunity in America, how every time we seek to end discrimination, someone says: But wait— religious rights.

Remember that this was the argument against Black and Brown Americans having equality here in the United States of America because their religion said they are not equal and they shouldn't be let in the door and I should have the right to not let them in the door.

I should have the right to discriminate. Isn't that the conversation we heard around the opportunity for women in America to play a full role in our society, that people had a religious foundation for discriminating between men and women? Well, I tell you that this Nation, although imperfect, was founded on a vision that everyone is created equal and has a full chance to participate.
While he raises a lot of specific issues, there's an important point not to be missed about the underlying principle. Read his words carefully, and you'll realize, there's no acknowledgement of the need to recognize and protect religious liberty. That is a continued invalidation of religious liberty as a viable factor in our nation's laws. To supporters of the “Equality Act,” religious liberty is no longer something to be protected. As Sen. Booker said Thursday of religious liberty in the past: “We overcame that.”

FRC found a silver lining in the Court's opinion:

Having a lower legal hurdle to overcome is welcome news.

The higher hurdle to overcome is cultural.

What does our culture believe about religious liberty, in general? When people have come to see “religious liberty” as a code word for “discrimination,” how do we respond?

Discrimination has become a very tarnished word in our culture. It's been this way for decades now. It originally meant being able to tell right from wrong. It's also been used to describe a cultured individual: a “discriminating” person, without any remote reference to race, was someone who had good taste. Now it's use is mainly personal, and that changes its dynamic completely.

There's nothing right or wrong about being black or white or any shade in between. Discrimination in those instances, on the basis of race, is wrong. God did indeed create mankind in a world in which “everyone is created equal.”

Sexuality is a different matter entirely. If we are to cite how God “created” people, a good place to start, is with God creating male and female, man and woman. The push in our culture today is for us to view sexuality as (a) being whatever we want it to be, and (b) using it however we want. This is to deny the plain reality before us. God originally created men and women, and we still see men and women all around the world today. He also gave us His Law for how the sexuality should and should not be used. That makes this a moral issue.

Race is about immutable characteristics: things people cannot change, even if they wanted to.

The sexuality issues the “Equality Act” raises are about people trying to change how they were created, and their “right” under U.S. law to act in violation of God's laws.

Some would claim this is just about people doing what they want to do “in their bedroom,” as our libertarian friends would have us believe. This is obviously not the case because (a) no one is checking on people's sexual compliance with any law in their private bedrooms, and (b) the push remains to pass a law that has consequences for how people engage in public. Bostock dealt with public matters, and the “Equality Act” would expand the reach of that decision.

The “Equality Act” is about people being able to create whatever sexuality they want, act in whatever way they want on that basis, and force everyone else everywhere they go to accept their decided-upon sexuality, including people who don't agree with those decisions, and especially those who don't agree on the basis of their faith in God's Word. That, dear friends, is why this is a religious liberty issue.

We can and should fight the political and legal fights, but the real fight is moral and cultural and spiritual. We'll be accused of trying to “impose our morality” on others, but at this point we don't want their immorality imposed on us, in law. If it is, then our right not to participate in sinful, immoral behavior is undermined.

Religious liberty will never be respected if we never tell them why we hold the beliefs we do. If all we say is, “Sexual redefinition is wrong,” then it's not hard to see why that would be perceived as little more than discrimination. Our culture needs Bible teaching. We need to tell people what the Word of God says, and not just that the Bible says something, but actually showing them where it says those things. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

We haven't done our job before God until we've told them, in love, what the Bible says about sin, and what God has done about sin. That's what gets to the bottom of the spiritual issue in this matter.

The legal and political fights provide additional opportunities to make God's case to people. Some may complain, even among our friends, that we're trying to institute a theocracy, but there are also beliefs about God in statutes that praise gender fluidity and gender modification. Those beliefs extend beyond “everyone is created equal,” to people thinking they can recreate themselves. They cannot, even if they enact a law that says they can.

The final Judge is not the Supreme Court or “history.” God has, and will have, the final say on these things, and He has given it to believers to “be strong and courageous” and tell others that nothing they do will rewrite His Eternal Word, including when they try to do that in public policy.

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