Archive for April 17th, 2008

Supreme Court Approves Executions by Lethal Injection

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

WASHINGTON — After a nationwide halt, U.S. executions are all but sure to resume soon following a splintered Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that approved the most widely used method of lethal injection.

Virginia immediately lifted its moratorium; Oklahoma and Mississippi said they would seek execution dates for convicted murderers, and other states were ready to follow after nearly seven months without an execution in the United States.

Voting 7-2, the conservative court led by Chief Justice John Roberts rebuffed the latest assault on capital punishment, this time by foes focusing on methods rather than on the legality of the death penalty itself. Justice John Paul Stevens voted with the majority on the question of lethal injections but said for the first time that he now believes the death penalty is unconstitutional.

The court turned back a challenge to the procedures in place in Kentucky that employ three drugs to sedate, paralyze and kill inmates. Similar methods are used by roughly three dozen states.

Death penalty opponents said challenges to lethal injections would continue in states where problems with administering the drugs are well documented.
Related

The case decided Wednesday was not about the constitutionality of the death penalty generally or even lethal injection. Instead, two Kentucky death row inmates contended that their executions could be carried out more humanely, with less risk of pain.

The inmates “have not carried their burden of showing that the risk of pain from maladministration of a concededly humane lethal injection protocol, and the failure to adopt untried and untested alternatives, constitute cruel and unusual punishment,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in an opinion that garnered only three votes. Four other justices, however, agreed with the outcome.

Roberts also suggested that the court will not halt scheduled executions in the future unless “the condemned prisoner establishes that the state’s lethal injection protocol creates a demonstrated risk of severe pain.”

States can avoid this risk by using the three-drug procedure approved in the Kentucky case, Roberts said.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented.

Original Link.

Principal Orders Teacher to Hide Bible From Students

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Here is what the First Amendment says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
In regards to this situation, I want to draw your attention to the first part:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
There are two key concepts I want for you to keep in mind as you read this article:
1. Schools do not have the authority to “establish” religion. Only the legislature can do that.
2. Working in government/public services does not negate an individuals right to the freedom of religious expression.

An Ohio school teacher has refused an order from his public school principal to hide his personal Bible, which he’s kept on his desk for 18 years, from his students.

The teacher, John Freshwater, held a news conference today to respond to questions from local reporters about the issue as the deadline set by school officials for him to hide his Bible passed.

No formal action was taken immediately by officials in the Mount Vernon, Ohio, School District in response to Freshwater’s move, according to Coach Dave Daubenmire of Pass The Salt Ministries and Minutemen United, who was acting as a spokesman for Freshwater.

Freshwater has been a middle school science teacher for 20 years in the Mount Vernon School District. Recently the principal visited his classroom, and then notified him of several changes he would be required to make.

One was a demand to remove a copy of the Ten Commandments from a collage of historic information in one location in his classroom, a demand Freshwater agreed to fulfill.

But he said the district must prove to him how it can order him to remove his personal Bible from his desk without infringing on his God-given and First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion.

“This is an incredible opportunity to right some historical misconceptions about the church and state relationship in our great nation,” Harrison said.

“Today at noon he informed [the administration] he would not comply with the order to remove his personal Bible from where it’s sat for 18 years,” Daubenmire told WND. “It’s his personal Bible. He draws great strength from it.”

He also said Freshwater has not, and does not, use the Bible in his interaction with students, but he also believes he does not forfeit his own rights just for being a teacher.

Such a school demand, he said, amounts to an ongoing viewpoint discrimination, since a Muslim woman would not be ordered to hide her head covering from students’ views.

The school district’s superintendent, Steve Short, could not be reached by WND. But school officials released a statement:

“The Mount Vernon Schools today directed one of its middle school science teachers to remove from his classroom the 10 Commandments he had displayed and to remove his Bible from his desktop while students were in his room. The Mount Vernon Schools has not taken this action because it opposes religion, but because it has an obligation under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to protect against the establishment of religion in the schools. As a public school system the district cannot teach, promote or favor any religion or religious beliefs.”

Daubenmire said, however, the school’s demands go far beyond making sure it doesn’t “establish religion” and reaches the level of a “continuous purging of Christianity.”

In an earlier commentary for WND, Daubenmire framed the issue as a rampant attack singling out Christianity.

“Please notice that the attack on religious freedom in America is on Christianity. No one is trying to silence the religious freedom of Muslims or atheists or humanists. Quite the contrary. We are told to ‘understand’ Muslims, to be sensitive to the atheists and to tolerate the humanists and their various denominations of ‘isms’ (environmentalism, feminism, secularism, socialism, communism), which we teach openly in our schools,” he said.

“Our rights are God-given rights. They are not ‘constitutional’ rights,” he continued. “Take some time and read the U.S. Constitution. You will see that it does not grant any rights to anyone. Instead, while setting up the federal government, the document (the first 10 amendments) also prohibits the government from interfering with various aspects of human freedom. The first 10 amendments limit what the government can do. They shouldn’t be called the Bill of Rights; they should be called the Bill of Limitations.”

Instead of claiming constitutional rights, citizens of the U.S. should proclaim their God-given rights, he said.

Original Link.
Also see my article “What Does the U.S. Constitution Actually Say About Religion?”