Category : Law & Legal Issues

(ABC Nightline) Workshops help parents have ‘the talk’ with kids on what it means to be black in the US

Winston Harris remembers watching the video of Philando Castile after he was shot by Officer Jeronimo Yanez of Minnesota’s St. Anthony Police Department back in 2016.

“You know those seven shots … the video hit me so hard and so deep,” Harris, 19, told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “As each shot rang out I could feel it. Not like actually, but, like, I could feel it, like, each time, like, bang, bang, bang, like I could just feel it. Like in my chest like seven beats.”

In Castile’s face, the Philadelphia native said he saw his own.

“A video like that can have [an effect] on the person, you know, especially if he’s the same skin color,” Harris said.

Read it all (video highly recommended).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Uncategorized, Violence

(NR) David French–The Dangerous Supreme Court Case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, nobody Is Talking About

The NIFLA case, however, is unquestionably about compelled speech. The state of California has enacted a law, the so-called FACT Act, that requires pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers to prominently place a notice informing clients that California offers low-cost and even free abortions to women who qualify and providing them a phone number that grants quick access to abortion clinics.

In other words, California is requiring pro-life professionals — people who’ve dedicated their lives to protecting the unborn by offering pregnant mothers alternatives to abortion — to advertise state-sponsored abortions. California is making this demand even though it has ample opportunity to advertise state services without forcing pro-life citizens to do so. The state can rent billboard space on the very streets where crisis-pregnancy centers are located. It can hand out leaflets on the sidewalk. It can advertise on television and the radio. It can advertise on the Internet or social media. But rather than using its own voice, it is co-opting the voices of its pro-life citizens, forcing them to join its pro-abortion crusade.

And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the FACT Act is constitutional. To validate California’s oppressive act, its decision carved out a dangerous First Amendment exception for what it deemed “professional speech” — “speech that occurs between professionals and their clients in the context of their professional relationship” — and ruled that the state had much greater leeway in regulating, for example, doctor/patient communication.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

Historic victory over Jim Crow–Elizabeth Herbin-Triant on the Supreme Court’s 1917 decision in Buchanan v. Warley

The celebration of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., is a time when Americans should remember not just King’s work, but that of many other civil rights activists whose efforts King built upon. One important milestone won by civil rights activists decades before King came to the world’s attention is the Supreme Court’s decision in Buchanan v. Warley. This little-remembered decision, made 100 years ago last November, dealt a blow to Jim Crow at a time when segregation was flourishing in the South.

In 1914, Louisville, Ky. implemented an ordinance prohibiting African-Americans from occupying houses on majority-white blocks and whites from occupying houses on majority-black blocks. The ordinance was part of a regional trend. In 1910, Baltimore became the first to enact such an ordinance, followed by about a dozen other cities across the South over the next few years.

The lengthy title of Louisville’s ordinance contained its rationale: “An ordinance to prevent conflict and ill-feeling between the white and colored races in the city of Louisville, and to preserve the public peace and promote the general welfare, by making reasonable provisions requiring, as far as practicable, the use of separate blocks, for residences, places of abode, and places of assembly by white and colored people respectively.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Race/Race Relations, Supreme Court

(Yesterday’s Local paper Front Page) South Carolina lawmakers consider electrocuting death row inmates if lethal injection drugs unavailable

South Carolina lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow the state to execute death row inmates using the electric chair — something that hasn’t been done since 2008 — if lethal injection drugs are not available.

Under current law, criminals sentenced to the death penalty in South Carolina can choose to die by lethal injection or electrocution.

Like other states, South Carolina has not had access to the necessary drugs to attempt a lethal injection since the last of its stock expired in 2013. That has left the state unable to carry out the ultimate punishment.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Capital Punishment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, State Government

(Globe and Mail) A new generation of prenatal testing raises ethical questions

For about $800, an American lab would analyze the fetal DNA circulating in Ms. Owens’s blood and tell her as early as 10 weeks into her pregnancy if she was carrying a baby with the chromosomal anomalies that cause Down syndrome and a few other, less common, conditions.

“Once I found out about this test,” Ms. Owens said, “I refused to wait until I was in my second trimester. I had to know right away.”

The desire of women like Ms. Owens to know as much as possible about their pregnancies as early as possible is behind a quiet revolution in prenatal screening in Canada and other developed countries.

A new generation of simple blood tests is allowing would-be parents to learn about the sex and potential genetic anomalies of their babies in the first trimester, a stage of the pregnancy when it’s relatively easy to get an abortion in Canada.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(TLS) In the Name of the Godfather–Misha Glenny on the survival of Global Mafias

Things changed dramatically in the 1990s. The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union was accompanied by a drastic weakening of the state, unable and unfit to cope with the dramatic shift from a planned to a market economy. Those people engaged in Soviet and East European studies had no choice but to write about the emergent mafias of the late 1980s and 90s because they comprised one of three constituent parts of a new polity, along with the new class of oligarchs and what remained of state institutions. Ignoring the Russian mafia would have been akin to writing a history of the United States in the 1970s without mentioning the CIA, big business, the FBI or the Supreme Court.

As coherent policies started to melt in Russia, another equally important one was already coming into being elsewhere. The Big Bang of 1986, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher’s most important joint initiative, lifted restrictions on corporate capital movement. This persuaded the political elites of countries such as India, Brazil, China, Indonesia and South Africa to adjust and accept more open markets. To varying degrees, the commercial law systems of these countries found accommodating these changes a difficult challenge.

The conjuncture of these two historical moments with a specifically criminal development injected immense vigour into the business of organized crime. This was supercharged by Reagan’s affirmation of the disastrous War on Drugs at a time of rapid growth in cocaine consumption in certain markets during the 1980s, and later by an upsurge in heroin production and distribution in the first half of the 1990s as Afghanistan’s security situation deteriorated.

Federico Varese was among a number of young students in the 1990s whose doctoral research coincided with these events. He went to Perm, located halfway between Moscow and Novosibirsk, where he recorded in minute detail the emergence of the local mafia organization, eventually leading to his seminal work, The Russian Mafia (2001). Others were undertaking similar work in various countries including South Africa, China, Brazil and India. Most framed their research with some reference to The Sicilian Mafia: The business of private protection (1993) by the Italian social scientist Diego Gambetta. More than anyone else’s, Gambetta’s work has changed our fundamental understanding of mafias and organized crime groups. Mafias usually emerge, he argues, at times of social or economic upheaval when the state finds itself unable or unwilling to regulate markets. In order to ensure the smooth running of commercial activities, mafias, or “privatized law enforcement agencies” as another researcher named them, assume the role of arbiter….

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, History, Law & Legal Issues

(Independent) Definition of marriage has now ‘evolved’ to include same-sex couples, EU court says

The European Union must compel EU countries that have not yet legalised same-sex marriage to recognise gay weddings held in other nations, a landmark legal statement from the EU’s highest court has recommended.

The European Court of Justice’s advocate general said in an official legal opinion on Thursday morning that there had been “evolution” in the societies of EU countries, and that the idea that “the term marriage means a union between two persons of the opposite sex can no longer be followed”.

If the advocate general’s recommendation is followed by the ECJ, EU citizens will be allowed to bring in their same-sex spouses from non-EU countries to live with them in any EU member states under free movement rules – a right some countries only recognise for opposite-sex marriages.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(CC) A civil debate about religious freedom John Corvino, Ryan Anderson, and Sherif Girgis agree: religious liberty is good, discrimination is bad, and the clash between these values is complicated

he major virtue of this book is its civility. As Nussbaum stresses, it “shows that people who strongly disagree can both find much common ground and also articulate their differences with respect and care, fostering a culture of reason.” The engagement these authors model is vital in a country that seems daily to become more divided and fractious. Moore laments, echoing John Courtney Murray, “Sadly, most Americans don’t have these debates at all, content to stay in our silos and never engage with those who disagree with us.” Discussion or even argument are often cast aside as giving unwarranted legitimacy to the opposition and are replaced by condescension and vilification.

Of course, we want to defeat policies that we believe are unjust. But in a democracy such victories need to be tempered by the realization that we still need to live alongside each other as fellow citizens in a political community. We continue to be neighbors. As Moore concludes: “This book will equip you, wherever you stand, on how the ‘other side’ from you thinks. If American society follows the lead of this book, our culture wars won’t end, but they just might be kinder and smarter. That’s a good start.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(AJ) Canadian Anglican ex-priest receives 22-month conditional sentence for theft

Noah Njegovan, a former priest in the diocese of Brandon, who pleaded guilty in December to stealing more than $190,000 from the diocese, was handed down a 22-month conditional sentence Tuesday morning, January 9, by Justice John Menzies of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Brandon, Man.

Under the terms of his sentence, Njegovan will be confined to his home for 12 months—only allowed to leave the house for work, medical emergencies and four hours each Saturday to obtain necessities—and under a curfew of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. for the remaining 10 months of his sentence. He will have a criminal record for theft over $5,000.

“This is commonly known as ‘house arrest,’ with very strict curfew and supervision conditions,” said Diocese of Brandon Bishop William G. Cliff in a letter to his diocese January 9. “Mr. Njegovan will be able to go to work and will have four hours per week for necessary maintenance. Otherwise, he must remain at his home and at any time, be able to prove to police that he is there. Should the police check on him and he is not there, he will finish the rest of his sentence in a provincial institution.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Chicago Tribune) Chicago-area clergy defend housing allowance as it faces legal challenge

Chicago clergy are fighting a federal judge’s recent ruling that tax-free housing allowances for clergy violate the separation of church and state.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago will be asked to weigh in on the challenge to the so-called parsonage allowance — an Internal Revenue Service benefit that allows clergy to exclude from their tax returns the compensation earmarked for mortgage payments, rent, utility bills or maintenance costs.

The ministerial tax break has been on the books for more than 60 years and is cited by many houses of worship, particularly smaller, independent ones, as an important financial underpinning to carrying out their mission.

But it has become the latest target of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a self-proclaimed guardian of church-state separation based in Madison, Wis., that challenged the tax break, and won, in a Wisconsin court.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes

(Christian Post) Pakistan Cracks Down on Charities, World Vision Given 90 Days to Leave

The government in Pakistan has ordered 27 international aid groups, including World Vision, to shut down alleging they were working in unauthorized areas and aiding human rights campaigners. The groups have been given 90 days to leave.

The 27 groups that have been asked to leave by Pakistan’s interior ministry include Action Aid, Plan International, Trocaire, Pathfinder International, Danish Refugee Council, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Oxfam Novib, and Marie Stopes, according to Reuters.

Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior Affairs, Talal Chaudhry, told Reuters the nonprofits were doing work in Pakistan “which is beyond their mandate and for which they have no legal justification.” He added that the groups spent “all their money” on administration and are not doing the work they said they were doing.

Read it all.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Politics in General

(CEN) Church of England rejects key finding in George Bell review

The Church of England has apologised for its handling of the allegations of abuse by Bishop George Bell, who died in 1958, but resisted a key recommendation in the review it requested.

The leading barrister and former MP Lord Carlile of Berriew was asked by the Diocese of Chichester to review its handling of the accusation by ‘Carol’.

Although he accepted that the diocese had acted in ‘good faith’, one of his key recommendations was that there should be a confidentiality provision, at least where cases are settled without admission of liability, as in this case.

Lord Carlile was not asked to decide on the veracity of the claims, which ‘Carol’ asserted happened when she was a child. These events date back to the 1940s and 1950s. The terms of his review were solely on how the Church handled these.

But on this point he was damning. While acknowledging that the Church’s actions were informed by history, in which the Church has been seen to be slow to acknowledge abuse by its clergy, or even turning a blind eye, he concluded: “The process followed by the Church in this case was deficient in a number of respects.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology

(CEN) Andrew Carey A devastating critique the Church needs to heed

The cynic in me wonders whether there were any PR machinations involved in the fact that the publication of Lord Carlile’s review was sandwiched between the fawning and ingratiating visit of Radio 4’s Today programme to Lambeth Palace last week and the joyous announcement of Sarah Mullally’s appointment to London.

Surely not? But in my opinion, the Church of England has become a place where appearances matter more than the reality. Friday is, after all, a good day for burying bad news.

I do not think, however, that the debacle over George Bell will be easily forgotten, not least because to use the words of Lord Carlile, Church of England leaders have been less than ‘adroit’ in their reaction to his excoriating report.

Lord Carlile’s report is a model of brevity and propriety. It is a line-by-line study of something approaching a slow-motion train wreck. The story told is one in which hapless leaders believed positively ancient allegations with little understanding of the principles at stake and then did little or nothing to investigate the veracity of allegations. To compound their errors they were too concerned about the reputation of the Church and gave almost no consideration to the reputation of a long-dead man (and there was absolutely no thought given to surviving members of the Bell family). The minutiae of the mess is to be found in the unprofessional and bungled composition and process of the so-called Core Group.

But it is the Church of England’s response to the report that is most disappointing. Having appointed one of the most distinguished lawyers in the land, the Church of England failed to understand his key recommendation, which is also a basic principle of British justice, that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The Archbishop of Canterbury hides behind the Church of England’s recent conversion to transparency to reject Carlile’s central recommendation that, in certain cases where liability cannot be proven and is not accepted, the Church of England should explore a confidentiality agreement to preserve the anonymity of the accused.

But senior leaders of the Church of England demonstrate that they do not understand basic principles of justice in rejecting this recommendation out-of-hand, and they certainly have not understood Lord Carlile’s report.

The Church of England should have refused to name George Bell because the allegations against him couldn’t meet even a lower threshold of a civil standard of proof. That is primarily because even a deceased person should have a defence and the Church of England gave no dignity to Bell by refusing to recognise this.

I fear that the Church of England at its highest level lacks leaders who understand basic principles of justice.

But the serious problem is the Church of England has now badly handled all of its recent reviews, especially the Elliott review. Additionally, I have no doubt that it will not be long before the Gibb review will be found to be inadequate when IICSA looks into the Diocese of Chichester next March and Peter Ball next July.

The House of Bishops is currently responsible for safeguarding but there is an urgent case for the involvement of an independent safeguarding body. Members of General Synod are agitating for a serious debate on the ongoing problems of the Church on safeguarding, but action must begin before the February sessions.

My personal hope is that the Church of England’s senior leaders wake up to the problem, which is driven by a culture of fear, rather than a proper culture of compassion and justice. In particular, the Church’s longest-standing leaders, especially the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, a former high court judge who suffered under Idi Amin because of his stand for justice, must step up to the plate. A way must be found to bring all interested parties together– including victims and complainants, those falsely-accused, Church leaders, lawyers, politicians and representatives of clergy and laity in General Synod — in a serious attempt to bring about change in the Church of England before the Independent Inquiry introduces its own possibly unwelcome, unwanted, intrusive and even misguided reforms.

–The Church of England Newspaper, December 22/29 1017 edition; subsriptions are encouraged

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues

(CEN) Bp Michael Nazir-Ali–There Must be no retreat from the public square by Christians

I have worked for a number of years with persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, especially in the Middle East and South Asia.Sometimes I am asked about those who feel they are ‘persecuted’ nearer home, in the UK. At one level the comparison is only superficial; Christian faith in the UK does not usually mean putting your life or liberty at risk.

Yet.

I find, though, that persecution begins with exclusion and discrimination. What is being dismissed from your post for your Christian views on marriage if not persecution? Or being refused as an applicant for adopting or fostering children if not persecution? Or being suspended as a teacher because of your Christian beliefs? Or losing your job for praying with a patient, if not persecution? So many examples can be given.

The family has been under sustained attack in this country for the last 50years. The family is the basis of a stable society.Yet our country has just abandoned the biblical teaching of marriage in public law.These attacks will not stop there.

First, divorce is becoming ever easier with further proposals for no-fault divorce. Marriage is no longer a covenant or contract.There is no accountability for people who abandon a marriage for no good reason.Family patterns are being reinvented and we are being told that fathers are not necessary. Yet all the research shows that fathers are very important for the proper maturing of children.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Christian Today) Martyn Percy: Why the Church’s response to the George Bell inquiry is so shocking

Since the publication of the Carlile Report, the Archbishop, Church of England National Safeguarding Team and the Bishop of Chichester have all been defensive. They recognise that there are criticisms. But they continue to speak and behave as though they got the right result – merely via a flawed methodology. I am reminded of the quote from Alan Partridge: ‘You know, a lot of people forget that for the first three days, the cruise on The Titanic was a really enjoyable experience.’

On the October 21, 2015, I had been rung by the then Secretary-General of the Archbishops’ Council and of the General Synod of the Church of England, Sir William Fittall. It was Fittall who told me, over the phone, that a ‘thorough investigation’ had implicated Bishop George Bell in an historic sex-abuse case, and that the Church had ‘paid compensation to the victim’. Fittall added that he was tipping me off, as he knew we had an altar in the Cathedral dedicated to Bell, and that Bell was a distinguished former member of Christ Church.

Fittall asked what we would do, in the light of the forthcoming media announcements. I explained that Christ Church is an academic institution, and we tend to make decisions based on evidence, having first weighed and considered its quality. Fittall replied that the evidence was ‘compelling and convincing’, and that the investigation into George Bell has been ‘lengthy, professional and robust’. I asked for details, as I said I could not possibly make a judgement without sight of such evidence. I was told that such evidence could not be released. So, Christ Church kept faith with Bell, and the altar, named after him, remains in exactly the same spot it has occupied for over fifteen years, when it was first carved.

What we now learn from Independent Review of the Bishop George Bell Case is that evidence against Bell is, at best, flimsy….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology