Monday, April 26, 2004

A Stranger in a Strange Land 

I have a good week ahead. I have an RCIA class (my classes now are only a couple of times a month, meant to get us comfortable with the faith and to answer basic questions. I'm looking forward to the weekly RCIA classes, though I know they won't fill in all the gaps) and our Priest will also be giving a straw mass along with a tour of the church. Today, though, I wake up focused on judges.

Long ago, I read Robert Heinlein's "A Stranger in a Strange Land." If you've not read it, you'll not "grok" where I'm headed here. (click on the grok-link for a definition). I don't want to talk about the free-love part of Stranger, that's just classic 60's Heinlein. What has stuck with me from that book is the concept of a "Fair Witness."

A Fair Witness is a person who was trained to act in an official capacity as an honest witness to events. The Fair Witness acted kind of like a notary republic. A Fair Witness would put on robes and was rigorously trained to observe, remember, and report without prejudice, distortion, lapses in memory, or personal involvement the events in front of them. It's a concept that I have also hoped would take hold in our nation's judges.

In the fight after the 2000 election, I spent a bit of time making phone calls and mailing letters and, if truth be told, saying not just a few prayers to push for President Bush to win. I did this not out of support for the Republican Party or to bash the Democrat Party, but because President Bush would be more likely to elect "Fair Witness" type judges. Judges who do their work without prejudice, distortion, lapses in memory or personal involvment. I was sure that in Bush's first term, a couple of Supreme Court Justices would retire and have to be replaced. I'm rather shocked they didn't. Now they are four years older and the fight lies ahead once again.... and a fight it will be, if you've watched what has happened to Priscilla Owen or Charles Pickering.

Why do I feel strongly about it? I have been offended by the stance of many judges across the country who seem to be pushing their own agenda, their own legislation even, instead of being just a fair witness. I was very upset over the Elian Gonzales case, where the judges seemed to just lay back and let the government take that child out of a home at gunpoint. In what other child custody case has the State ever raided a home with tear gas and AK47's and taken the child away from his home right in front of his lawyers? The Florida Election itself showed judges changing what legislatures had written into the election law (and the judges made a mess of it).

Since that time, we've had judges from New Jersey, California, Alabama, even my own Indiana, and probably every state in the union making judgements trying to remove any mention of God from public discourse, trying to re-write what the elected legislatures have written into law, making things legal that the people have voted to make illegal and making things illegal that the people have voted to make legal. My major area of supporting Republicans is Judges. Abortion (did you see the pictures from the rally in D.C.?), Ten Commandment cases, Gay Marriage, Sodomy laws, the Pledge of Allegiance Case... the number of cases and judges that seem out of control and against what the people clearly want seems to increase every day.

The Judicial, Legislative and Executive Branches of the government remind me of the reason(s) I'm becoming a Catholic. Catholics have checks and balances on their faith: the Bible, Tradition, the Magisterium. These things check each other, guide each other, balance each other. Other Christian faiths rely too heavily on the Bible (in my completely humble opinion) and any people who are good at playing with words can twist verses in the Bible to mean what they want them to mean. Just so, judges are twisting the words of the legislators and the Constituion to mean whatever they want, they are not being Fair Witnesses for our nation just as Methodists, Episcopalians, and name your own Protestant faith, are not being Fair Witnesses for the Christian Faith.

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