November 19 2007 Legal Blog Roundup

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Regardless of which religious tradition you were raised in, chances are you dreaded being trotted off to school on Sunday (or whichever equivalent day your parents decided you wouldn't have fun). Well, Canada has gone one step further: Religion Clause reports that in an effort to secularize (yup, secularize) both public and private schools in Quebec, schools must now offer something called Ethics and Religious Culture, which will expose students to the finer (and not-so-fine) points of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and aboriginal spirituality. What? The Wiccans don't get a chapter in the lesson plan?! What would Harry Potter say?!

As it turns out, not everyone is so gung-ho about learning about other religions. Private Catholic and Orthodox Jewish schools have objected to having to teach their students about religions other than their own — they are obliged, it seems, to submit because they receive some government funding. Not surprisingly, litigation is expected to ensue. I wonder whose side Zeus is on...

Newsflash: "Torture is abhorrent." Wotsay? The Volokh Conspiracy has a timely link on its November 5 section to an ABC News story on Dan Levin who, in 2004, served as the acting head of the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel. When the CIA and the Bush administration decided that protecting "enemy combatants" from torture was a "quaint" relic of the Geneva Conventions, Levin actually underwent the controversial waterboarding procedure himself and discovered that (drumroll, please) "Torture is abhorrent." Of course, by the time Alberto Gonzalez had become attorney general, Levin was out of a job. Cut to three years later: Gonzalez is a national disgrace, and Levin has been vindicated. This might be funny if we weren't talking about torture.

Which brings us to the War on Reason. With most of the world officially inoculated from the horror that is the incessant bombing and rioting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, Is That Legal? asks a very pertinent question in its November 3 post: is a state of emergency akin to what is happening in Pakistan possible (or even probable) here in America?

The answer is "yes" — at least constitutionally. Now, I don't want to scare readers into thinking the sky is falling, but the idea of the Constitution being indefinitely suspended is not outside the realm of possibility. America has been marching along, ever faster, into fascist police-state territory. Lucky for our founding fathers, every action has an equal but opposite reaction. How else can we explain the record online fundraising posted by renegade libertarian Ron Paul on November 5? Read it, think, and then think some more.

Cheers,

The Judge

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