Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Religious Freedom Restoration Act

After all the chatter on TV about Indiana's new RFRA act I took the trouble of googling for the text of this controversial act.  For all the sound and fury about it, the written text is unimpressive.  It's only a couple of pages long.  Divided into 11 sections.  The first seven sections are definitions of terms.  They bother to define well known phrases such as "establishment clause".  They give some really far out definitions such as "person" to mean churches and corporations.  In proper English, person means a human being, either male or female.  In lawyer's gobbledegook  person can mean any sort of organization that wants to sue.  The last three sections are quibbles and unbelievable stuff such as "  not intended to, and shall not be construed or interpreted to, create a claim or private cause of action against any private employer by any applicant, employee, or former employee."  Yeah right. 
   Section 8 seems to be the working part of the law.  "a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability."   Sounds nice, but it's terribly vague and courts could stretch this to forbid or require damn near anything of anybody.   This sort of obfuscation just provides welfare for lawyers.  The legislature, unable or unwilling to write a real law, has tossed the entire matter into the lap of the courts. Me, I don't like to live in a judge ruled country. 
   Nor does this "law"  say anything about the division between burdening a person's exercise of religion and plain oldfashioned discrimination.  We have laws that forbid discrimination in public accommodations, hiring, housing, lending, and probably more stuff that I don't know about.  Discrimination against blacks is forbidden everywhere.  Discrimination against LGBT persons is forbidden in many states but not all.   
  Although I don't like the courts beating up on mom and pop bakeries and photographers for refusing to serve gay weddings, neither do I like discriminating against blacks in hiring, housing, and public accommodations. 

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