Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Jack Balkin on Mccreary County

A couple of days ago, I posted a blurb on the Mccreary opinion, regarding the posting of the Ten Commandments. In particular, I focused on Scalia's dissent. Jack Balkin has a a great post on this same issue, and it's way better than anything I have to say. I highly recommend checking it out. He fails to make one point, though. Scalia and other right-wingers readily invoke the "history" of mono-theism in this country in order to provide a basis for discriminating between mono-theists and other religious believers. The mere fact, however, that they actively support such discrimination, suggests to me that their distinction between mono-theistic Judeo-Islamic-Christian religions and non-mono-theistic religions is strategic at best.

Clearly, Scalia and his ilk believe religious discrimination is okay, and there seems to be no principled basis to their choice of religious division. Why mono-theistic vs. multi-theistic? Why not Christian vs. Judeo-Islamic? Why not pre-Enlightenment Christian sects vs. post-Enlightenment Christian sects? As Balkin points out, Scalia's historical reasoning for the distinction he makes is pretty slim, and basically acts as a justification for an opinion based primarily on his conservative religious values. What with the weakness of his justification and the strength of his religious values, I don't at all doubt that the religious distinction Scalia discusses would be mutable in future decisions. Given the opportunity, I have little doubt that America's right-wing theocrats would willingly expand the distinction to support not just a monotheistic state, but an explicitly Christian state.