Filibuster for the Minority

Apr 162005
Authors: Ben Bleckley

The New York Times reported Friday that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will participate in an evangelical telecast Sunday, titled "Justice Sunday – Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith." The telecast is intended to "engage values voters in the all-important issue of reining in our out-of-control courts," according to The Family Research Council is sponsoring the event.

Not knowing the specific, unpublished agenda for "Justice Sunday," this columnist consulted the Family Research Council's "Questions and Answers: Why I Should Care About Judges and Judicial Nominations" to get an idea of the informative presentations that will be offered via live telecast and webcast.

According to the article, activist judges have been consulting their own personal values in order to make court decisions about gay marriage, abortion and prayer in public schools. From this argument they suggest that the power to block judicial nominees by means of filibustering by Democratic senators is not acceptable.

Assumedly, this is the "filibuster against people of faith." It is understandable that it could be perceived this way. Many members of the Judeo-Christian faith may be puzzled as to why many court decisions are favoring practices that are strictly forbidden by their religion.

However, these court rulings and the liberal protection of high court seats where these decisions are made are not an attempt to attack people of faith; rather, they are an extended assurance that American citizens will always be free to practice the beliefs of their choosing.

Gay marriage, for example, is a right reserved to those who choose to use it. Christian heterosexuals are not being told by the courts that they must see members of their own sex romantically attractive. Gay men and women are just being granted the same right anyone else in the nation has – the right to marry.

And this court decision will actually support family values. There are stories of a very few number of gays and lesbians who are still "in the closet" internally, marrying members of the opposite sex for the sole reason of having children of their own. Instead, these gay and lesbian individuals will find relationships and marriages driven by mutual affection and genuine love. In addition, gay couples could greatly reduce the number of orphan children without an adopted family.

A major objection to this is that gay parents would produce gay children. This is unlikely since heterosexual couples produce gay offspring quite often.

Similarly, the restriction of prayer in public schools does not intentionally restrict the rights of religious members of society. It respects the beliefs of some who would not want to participate in public, social prayer.

The same basic argument is true for abortion. No one is being forced into an abortion. "Except the baby," the conservative right says. Fair enough, that is an argument that has some grounding. It is one that only applies to the issue of abortion, however.

The "activist" judges are not making personal decisions about weighty matters of civil rights. They are handing down rulings based on the individual rights of the minority, exactly what the courts were established to do. The position and appointment of judges who listen to the minority before members of mainstream faith must be protected if our nation is to survive this time of political polarity.

Ben Bleckley is a senior English major. His column runs every Monday in the Collegian.

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