Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Jimmy Carter and Law...

There are two things I hope to talk about, so this may be a long blog...the boring political kind I'm sure most people who tune in, all six of you, begin to read and skip through until I mention something of interest...but here it goes anyway:

There is a Supreme Court case going on right now pitting law schools against the government. Without getting into the weeds about the case, basically, the government attached strings to federal money saying if you do not accept recruiters onto your campus, you get no federal money. At the same time, law schools (most of them) have rules against allowing any employer who discriminates by race, sex, religion or sexual orientation from recruiting on campus...thus, the military ban.

What I want to write isn't a legal analysis; it's my reasoning for agreeing the Court should side with the government. Legally, the government has a slightly better case (when it came to arguments, they had a much better lawyer...they posted the audio which I listened to). I think a quick anecdote will help explain the way I think about Law and the Judicial system (it's not that quick, but I'll make it as brief as possible):

My godmother was going in for an interview to intern for the LA public defenders office and the interviewer gave her a hypothetical situation in which, to get an avowed racist and homophobe off on what he was charged with (knowing he did it), would she allow a juror she knows shares his views about minorities and gays to sit on the jury. (what a long and awkward sentence) She said no, and the interviewer asked why she wouldn't allow someone to sit on the jury who would by sympathetic to her clients cause and she replied that Justice is only just if it is applied fairly, and that to subvert the law, even if it is in your own favor, in the long run does not do justice and hurts the public in general.

I agree (and I should mention she was offered the position). While I may wish the Supreme Court would back the Law Schools in their decision to not take the federal money, to do so would be subversive to free speech and law as we know it today and could make it more difficult to use federal funds to enforce anti-discrimination laws (I know, seems counter intuitive doesn't it?) So, while I think eventually, justice and civil rights will win out, this particular case, to be settled legally and justly, must be decided in favor of Rumsfield.

Now, on to Carter. Carter's book is amazing...I read it all in one sitting (admittedly, he's a very simple writer and the text is big). I have never read someone who had such a simple heart, a true understanding of the compassion of Christ and applied that to his political life in a way that was both true to his faith and valuable in his profession. He manages to discuss current politics, the state of polarization and the differing agendas of the right and left in a way that makes Christian compassion seem like such an obvious answer to the questions posed (the concussions he reaches may be a surprise to anyone familiar with typical religious right rhetoric).

He was President at a time when Fundamentalists were taking control of both their own churches and the government as a whole (thank you Mr. Newt Gingrich) and is able to point to changes in society and culture that only someone in his position would have been able to see. He synthesizes his faith and his political ideas in a way that makes it both inspiring and tragic. The world he knows and the world he wants have diverged so far in such a short time it is truly sad.


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