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Tennessee legislators seek to make the Bible the official state book
  #1  
Old 04-16-2015, 01:13 AM
Anthony K. S. Anthony K. S. is offline
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Default Tennessee legislators seek to make the Bible the official state book

The Tennessean - "Tennessee House votes Bible as official state book"

Huffington Post - "Tennessee House Approves Bill To Make Bible Official State Book"


... Do I even need to explain why this is a bad idea?

No surprise, the sponsors and supporters of this legislation are conservative Republicans.

Interestingly, though, there seems to be a large contingent of prominent Republicans who are opposing the bill, including Tennessee's governor, attorney general, and the Republican leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Quote:
The bill also has drawn criticism from religious leaders and others - including Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III - who say it violates the separation of church and state under the U.S. Constitution and Tennessee's constitution.
Oh, gee, ya think?

As expected, the bill's supporters have maintained that it does not establish an "official religion" for the state, nor does it abridge anybody's right to worship as they choose.

Which is technically true. But when a state government holds up the sacred text of certain religions as an official symbol of the state ... I have a hard time understanding how that does not constitute the state showing a preference for or endorsement of those religions.

How do you think this makes people who follow other religions feel? You don't think this makes them feel disrespected? Unwelcome?

Why would you even want to take the chance of going down this road?

Quote:
"The controversy will not end in this chamber," Representative Martin Daniel said. "If we pass this, we're going to be ridiculed."
Yeah, that is the part to focus on - how it's going to make Tennessee look crazy to the rest of the country.

Still, whatever his motivations are, at least he has sense enough to oppose this bill.

Another concern raised by the bill's opponents was the inevitable legal challenges it would face from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). It would almost certainly cost the state millions of dollars to defend the law in court, a fight that Tennessee is unlikely to win, anyway.

The attorney general has openly stated that he will not defend the law if it is legally challenged.

I particularly liked this response from the bill's sponsor :

Quote:
Sexton said it would be someone else's fault if the state had to spend money on any legal action that could arise if the bill becomes law.
Oh, I love it. They pass a law that they know full well is certain to be legally challenged, and which the courts likely won't uphold anyway ... but it's not their fault if the state has to spend a large amount of money to defend the law. Oh, no. It's the fault of the people who bring the suits. Or maybe the courts, or somebody else. Not them.

I know politicians love to play the blame game, but at some point, you've got to accept responsibility for the consequences of your own actions, especially when you knew perfectly well what they were going to be.
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Last edited by Anthony K. S.; 04-17-2015 at 12:44 AM. Reason: Corrected a typo. It was supposed to say "contingent" of prominent Republicans, not "continent."
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  #2  
Old 04-16-2015, 05:47 AM
Tama Tama is offline
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Frankly I think the average Joe will forget about it in a week if this passes.
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  #3  
Old 04-16-2015, 02:29 PM
wolfie wolfie is offline
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Looks like those guys believe that "separation of church and state" and "freedom of religion" mean that you're free to worship at whatever fundamentalist Protestant church you want to, and the state has no business telling you otherwise.
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Old 04-16-2015, 10:11 PM
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They're a little behind the times. PA declared 2012 "The Year of the Bible."

What really annoys me about this whole thing is that our overpaid, oversized legislature apparently thinks they have nothing better to do than to come up with BS like this.
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Old 04-17-2015, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Yeah, that is the part to focus on - how it's going to make Tennessee look crazy to the rest of the country. Still, whatever his motivations are, at least he has sense enough to oppose this bill.
It is possible he also has better motivations, but believes that to be the one that might get a few of the measure's supporters to change their minds.

Quote:
Another concern raised by the bill's opponents was the inevitable legal challenges it would face from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). It would almost certainly cost the state millions of dollars to defend the law in court, a fight that Tennessee is unlikely to win, anyway.
I could see the state winning this on standing. It's hard to challenge a law that doesn't really *do* anything. And it would also be hard to repeal; what future legislature is going to say they don't like the bible?
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Old 04-17-2015, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by HYHYBT View Post
I could see the state winning this on standing. It's hard to challenge a law that doesn't really *do* anything. And it would also be hard to repeal; what future legislature is going to say they don't like the bible?
On First Amendment grounds, it's showing a preference for a single religion, which is pretty much blanket verboten across the board.

This will be challenged, and since the AG isn't going to fight any challenge, it'll die a sad and pathetic death almost immediately.
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Old 04-29-2015, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
On First Amendment grounds, it's showing a preference for a single religion, which is pretty much blanket verboten across the board.
But that doesn't really answer HYHYBT's question, which isn't "Why is this unconstitutional" but "Who is sufficiently harmed by this to make an argument about it."

And it is difficult in a case like this to find someone who has sufficient standing. That is, when whose life is changing drastically around it, or at least enough that this is a problem for them.

But I think that ultimately it will be challenged, and, I'm fairly certain, be overturned. After all, the courts will often be willing to rule even when they aren't 100% sure on standing, if it's something that's sufficiently egregious, and in this case, I would expect it to go with the 'You can't do that' option.

One thing I'd say is pretty certain is that no-one would have standing to step in and take up the side of Tennessee, so with no-one defending it, it's gonna probably get overturned. I can't be 100% certain, from the problems of elected judges, to the fact that it's hard to say who's being hurt, to questions of "If we DO have a state book, can it not go against anyone's deeply held beliefs?" After all, rulings have established that not being religious doesn't mean you're totally unprotected, and "Things which hold the same place" would count. So if could a communist sue over declaring an Ayn Rand book the state book? What about if the 'state food' was something a faith declared unclean. It could be argued that by ruling in favor of the state there, you're making an argument over what is and is not acceptable to eat, while things like the FDA and whatnot only say "What won't kill you."

Of course, I don't agree with those arguments. I'm just pointing out the problems that need to be overcome in court. And the thing is, for the most part, courts are pretty interested in getting things as reasonable as possible. There are times when something seems patently ridiculous and is so, but more often, there are times when something that seems ridiculous has a very good reason for it. The courts will usually put a higher concern on a principle like free speech, or double-jeopardy, preventing laws from abuse, and similar things. And that can lead to decisions that look terrible when taken on face value.

But that said, they do tend to want to make things right, and any argument that calling the Bible the state book would be open the door in the ways I raised could pretty easily be overcome if the ruling just mentioned specifically things explicitly religious in nature. And after all, there's a significant portion of the population who claim to live their life based on every word in the bible, but I don't know of any Libertarians who claim to live their lives based on 'Dagny Taggart vaguely musing about romance.'

Courts, and especially ones not worried about election, will often be able to come up with tests to see if something is a problem. And I doubt that anyone could ever come up with any sort of test that would come to the conclusion that the Bible is not, in fact, a religious text. Generally, the judges want to do the right thing, and it's pretty clear, I think, that declaring your state book to be the Bible is one of the most outright and blatant violations of the separation clause in some time. Any concerns can be addressed in the ruling, as long as the addressing of the concerns doesn't violate the ruling itself.

I do agree, there's very little chance of the statute lasting long. Regardless of the potentially questionable standing of its opposition, the courts will likely overlook that and just say "Yeah, we'll take it," because, well, why not? The standing of the law's opponents doesn't necessarily effect the case. Under the law, if something's never brought up by either side in a case, it can't be judged, so if no-one objects, the court doesn't actually HAVE to rule if someone has standing. They can just not comment. And this is a case that it seems pretty obvious that the courts will be interested in ruling on.

Ultimately, while I do understand that standing might be hard to prove in this case, I doubt that it'd be a road block. And if the courts can't find a way to ban this, the judges are idiots.
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Old 04-29-2015, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hyena Dandy View Post
But that doesn't really answer HYHYBT's question, which isn't "Why is this unconstitutional" but "Who is sufficiently harmed by this to make an argument about it."
The short and sweet is that nominating the religious text of one set of religions harms, implicitly at the least, every other group that doesn't follow that one religious text.

1A was written as it was specifically to protect minorities from discrimination for being minorities.

As for being overturned, the AG already said he'd refuse to defend it once it's challenged, so it was pretty much just a huge waste of resources voting on it in the first place. Which the people who put it up knew full well, but they're pandering to their base with that whole hyper-religiousness, anyway. They're not doing real legislating; it's politicking for the sake of politics. >_<
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Old 05-03-2015, 03:11 PM
protege protege is offline
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Originally Posted by Andara Bledin View Post
Which the people who put it up knew full well, but they're pandering to their base with that whole hyper-religiousness, anyway. They're not doing real legislating; it's politicking for the sake of politics.
That's exactly what they're doing. They come up with this legislation, hope some group wants to deny it, it gets retracted...and then they scream "persecution."
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  #10  
Old 07-31-2015, 07:29 AM
Estil Estil is offline
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Okay if no one else is gonna ask I will...since when did any state even have any kind of "official book"?
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