Please interpret this.
1/ “As of 1 January 2020, 74.3% of the population of Denmark are members [of the Church of Denmark], though membership is voluntary.” (Wikipedia: Church of Denmark, May 26, 2021)
2/ “Percentage of population who are nonreligious. Denmark: 61%.” (Wikipedia: Irreligion, May 26, 2021)
Is it safe to say that the Church of Denmark is not a religious organization?
According to the above figures, 39% of Danes have faith while 74.3% of them are voluntary members in the Church of Denmark (Folkekirken). Given that among the 25.7% who are not members of the Church, there are religious persons too (earnest Catholics, Calvinists, Muslims…), the percentage of religious Danes who belong to the Church of Denmark is obviously below half the number of Church of Denmark members (below 37.15% of population), that is, more than half of Folkekirken members do not have faith and probably never had.
New open letter asks Trudeau to stop plans to harm the internet.
This is the person who claimed that derogatory speech is the same as shouting fire in a crowded theater, the classic SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) example of what derogatory speech is not and can never be. How dare Canadians allow their politicians to talk such humbug when they have had the world’s beacon of liberty as their sole neighbor for more than 250 years? Are they all eyes for Greenland? Yes, it must be that: for the last 250 years Canada has had eyes for Greenland only and now derogatory speech is like shouting fire in a crowded theater in Canada.
Canada Justice Minister pushes for censorship bill and limited freedoms. David Lametti said freedoms are not “absolute.”
250 years with the world’s beacon of liberty for sole neighbor and Canadian politicians know no better than telling Canadians freedoms are not absolute – in order to pass censorship bills. How is it possible? How can American First Amendment law exist and spread not like fire over the world? – Because of politicians.
Since the US failed to export its unique free speech spirit abroad, now the country is at risk of losing it at home. The US failed to export it because it has not been a politician’s job to begin with: American free speech law is entirely judge-made.
It takes independent judges tenured for life to defend free speech, to prevent elected, corrupt policitians from making it an empty shell.
“French trial opens over anti-Asian Covid tweets.” (RFI in English, March 25, 2021)
“Protesters gathered in front of the Paris court, with one man carrying a placard which read ‘In Atlanta or in Paris, no to anti-Asian racism,’ in reference to last week’s mass shooting in the US that killed six Asian women.”
“‘My mother has been attacked, my aunt too. Because we are Asian, people think that we have money,’ Darith, a 30-year-old of Chinese-Cambodian descent, told French news agency AFP at the protest in Paris.”
Note the rhetoric. “Protesters” gather against defendants who are facing prison. It’s a lynch mob. (That the defendants are “most likely facing damages if convicted rather than prison” is only due to the fact that none of them has a criminal record, otherwise the likelihood would be quite the reverse.)
The journalist then quotes one protester, an Asian woman, who talks of relatives having been physically attacked. Why is this woman not protesting in front of the court that judges the attackers instead of protesting in front of a court that judges people for speech? Because there is no trial? Most likely because there is no trial and there will never be a trial. It is easy to prosecute people for speech, child’s play, but it makes no difference on people’s safety and only allows governments to conceal facts.
The rhetoric consists in slipping in the assumption that prosecuting speech is an efficient way to guarantee people’s safety.
I wish the US exported more of its free speech spirit and less of its mass culture. In fact, as they have not exported the former at all, the risk is now quite serious that they lose this unique spirit.
L’argument des défenseurs du violeur présumé Roman Polanski, que la victime ou l’une des victimes a retiré sa plainte, est, contrairement à ce qu’ils semblent penser, accablant pour lui : le procureur américain insiste parce qu’il a la preuve de la culpabilité du violeur présumé. Et ces défenseurs ont encore à apprendre qu’une action pénale ne se résout pas par un accord entre parties mais par une condamnation réparatrice du corps social lésé ou par un innocentement en bonne et due forme, un acquittement.
I shut down my Twitter account in protest against their censorship policy. I then opened a … account and found some are posting the “news” I already read from “white nationalists” twenty years ago: the same black on white crimes. Have they done nothing except posting these couple of crime stories again and again these last twenty years? I can see no future for such people.
My other feeling about … is that half posters are cops in their free time and the other half are cops on duty.
White Plakkers in South Africa: A Libertarian Issue
We all have heard of the phenomenon of white slum dwellers (aka squatters or, in Afrikaans, ‘plakkers’) since the end of apartheid in South Africa.
These new white poors are obviously from two categories of people: 1/ private sector employees who were dismissed because of affirmative action policies and 2/ public sector employees, dismissed for the same reason.
Considering (a) the apartheid economy as bureaucratic and (b) any government’s room for affirmative action to be larger in the public sector, a majority of current white plakkers must be the result of dismissals from the public sector, as the new South African economy remains bureaucratic but with new colored staff. It’s not farmers who became plakkers (they have trouble of their own with targeted killings meant as intimidation to have them leave the land and make room for land reform) nor entrepreneurs nor highly qualified employees (for a time shielded by their qualifications). Low-qualification jobs in the public sector that were the preserve of white (and preferentially, in the context of Afrikaner nationalism, Afrikaans-speaking) South Africans shifted to blacks.
Expelled from protected niches where their productivity was not, in fact, an issue, these white functionaries had no qualification whatsoever to market. They were like those people in European countries doing menial jobs in administrations like bringing sparkling water to the director or taking the coat of the minister on his arrival, and in poorer countries opening doors or saluting militarily anybody walking down the corridors. They were trapped while thinking they had made it in life.
Even if their position made sense, like cops, when the figures are in excess because of the bureaucratic, subsidized nature of the sector, they cannot all convert to the private security sector, and yesterday’s cop is today’s squatter.
From this I expect racism to be highest, in every country, among low-qualification protected jobs, not because of a lack of education (in fact culture is likely to make one’s racism more articulate if anything) but because of the at the same time coveted and exposed nature of said positions, at the government’s discretion. Governments are pressed to make societies that are more diverse also more equal, which basically requires that more jobs at the government’s hand be reserved for minorities. This is the statistics you need to know in order to assess government’s racism: Are the people working for government as diverse as the society? A government can tell you anything about how to fight racism and how it fights it (with hate speech laws etc), as long as it keeps its jobs disproportionately white, it is racist, make no mistake about it.
(The reader understands I do not know the particulars about plakkers’ past – and perhaps such a survey has not even been carried out – but I laid down my assumptions and I believe they are plausible, perhaps with some tilting towards the public sector. Another phenomenon to take into account is the massive white qualified workers’ flight from South Africa at the end of apartheid, called chicken run by some, which no doubt caused a slump.)
I want to make a confession: I burnt books… Well, as I don’t have a fireplace I dropped them in the trash can anyway. I needed to make room.
If the government has the right to want to discourage drugs consumption, then it has the right to want to discourage homosexual conduct, and the discourse vindicating equal rights for homosexuals is an attempt to silence those who hold the view that homosexuality is a choice except for a miniscule minority and that equal rights would therefore cause a risk of homosexualization of the society (like pagan societies of old) – same as the prohibition of drugs which intends to prevent a generalization of drugs consumption, whether this generalization would take place or not. Remember that pornography was first legalized in Denmark in 1969, with the Danish national church (Church of Denmark) approving on the ground that pornography owed its attraction to the prohibition – yet people have not turned their back on pornography in spite of its legalization, quite the contrary.
When the discourse of equal rights is adopted by the government, then it is a state-sponsored ideology acting with the aim of prevailing against other ideologies, a breach of state neutrality.
The previous paragraph is a reply to the claim that granting equal rights would put an end to a current breach of state neutrality (in the US). It would not, as it would be a breach of neutrality. (This is not to say the state must remain neutral on the issue, as my thought is that it cannot.)
When the government adopts the equal rights discourse it is buying one ideology, namely that people engaging in homosexual conduct are not free agents making a choice, as if homosexuality, therefore, were like one’s race. Thus the government dismisses and actually opposes another ideology according to which those engaging in homosexual conduct thereby make a choice and it is at best a small part of them, resulting from genetic drift, who simply cannot have intercourse with a person of the other sex as a result of their genetic makeup. As we find such conclusions in medical books I guess it could be possible for medical authorities to issue permits for these, let’s call them genetic-drift homosexuals, so that they would not be discriminated against. But as far as the others are concerned, who are in reality bisexuals, the government deals not with something like race but with a practice which it has the right to want to discourage.
Second Amendment: A ‘Collective Right’?
The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) (which was followed by McDonald v. City of Chicago, 2010, about state and local governments), the Supreme Court ruled that the Amendment protects an individual right against federal encroachments.
Some people had argued that the right was only a “collective right within the context of a militia.” To no one’s surprise the same people call Heller a “very controversial decision.” In fact there is no possibility that the Amendment be interpreted as they do, even though their opinion would be held by all liberal scholars in the US. There is nothing controversial with Heller and on the contrary these people’s contrived interpretation of the Amendment is outrageous.
What is a militia? A militia is a group of armed persons who get together in order to perform duties that need guns. First you have armed individuals, then, when they get together, a militia. You cannot place the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms inside a militia instead of individuals, that is, in a militia that would not exist before individuals associate and which then would provide them with guns, because then it would not be the militia that provides the guns but the government, which has nothing to do here according to the notion of a militia.
Of two things it would be either one or the other: either the militia would be a mere paper formality for individuals to buy guns (namely, they would have to attest militia membership and as freedom of association is guaranteed it would be a mere formality without substance) or you intend the membership condition to restrict access to guns and that is not possible if you do not curtail freedom of association at the same time, namely if you do not insist on the government controling militia duties, and then not only you make the right to bear arms dependent on the government but also you suppress militias qua militias (said groups would be something like the standing army or its reserve), but they are “necessary to a free state.”
Opponents to an individual right are opponents to the Amendment plain and simple.
Besides, if the right to bear arms were collective (“collective right within the context of a militia”) instead of individual, the individuals who would form a militia would be unfamiliar with the use of guns and their association would be a very ineffectual militia. Likewise, a new member joining a militia would be an ineffectual member. In fact it is hard to imagine how people with no individual right to bear arms would ever think of forming or joining militias; a collective vs individual right would be nothing but an obstacle to forming militias, which, again, are “necessary to a free state.”
Arguably this is what is meant by the words “well regulated” of the Amendment: a well regulated militia needs members who know how to use guns, otherwise it is not a militia, it’s a shooting club.
(The reader understands I am not talking about militia in the sense of the military reserve but about citizen militias, which result both from freedom of association and one’s responsibility to defend oneself. It is even more sinister when one thinks the advocates of a Second Amendment “collective right,” who made up this contrivance in order to void the Amendment as they know they cannot repeal it, fancied the right could be limited to a military reserve.)
Kant: A Very Short Introduction (2001) by Roger Scruton is a deluge of scepticism. It saddens me that they had a sceptic write a very short introduction on Kant, as if they could not find someone more receptive to Kantian thought to share it with the public.
There is no “crucial ambiguity” (p. 55) in Kant’s philosophy about the thing-in-itself. That the thing-in-itself cannot “cause, or stand in any other relation to, an appearance” (56) is true and yet the thing-in-itself is the same thing as the apperances, the trial they make (Scruton following) is absurd. Appearances can have no causal or other relation to the thing-in-itself because these categories are only applicable to our experience (appearances), this is precisely what Scruton explained in the previous chapter. So a lack of category relation is a necessary conclusion.
Kant simply says our experience is what our intellect makes of the thing-in-itself. No ambiguity.
Kant’s philosophy is not dependent on Newton’s works, as if one could discard it because “we know” Newton has been surpassed by later physicists. In fact, Kant explained why physics like all empirical science will always advance while metaphysics can achieve its goal. Philosophers who keep dogging the advances of physics to get the fundamentals of their thinking from it are not philosophers, and my Apologie de l’épistémologie kantienne (PDF available in this blog’s table of contents) is the denunciation of philosophical scientism (which makes philosophy ancillary to empirical results), exploding the so-called philosophies that have been built on such theories as relativity and quantum mechanics, their inconsistent juggling, their “revolutionary” bombast.
“It is fair to say that the transcendental deduction has never been considered to provide a satisfactory argument.” (46)
I don’t know if it is fair, although I rather understand Kant’s epistemology has got the universal credit it deserves, but I for sure find it satisfactory and the proof being in the pudding it remains, I find, an extraordinarily convenient tool for demolishing everything that has since been trying its feeble teeth at the calf of the giant (as Schopenhauer would say).
Scruton is a case of Jekyll and Hyde: on practical reason he shows much more patience and understanding. I guess it is because he had no clue about what to think of the transcendental deduction and had to rely on more “proficient” than himself. But as he writes that in the final analysis Kantian practical reason is “common-sense morality,” is it because it is trite that he is patient and comfortable with it?
And the comical touch at the end of the chapter: “Even in our most private and intimate encounters, reason covertly abstracts from the immediate circumstances and reminds us of the moral law.” (94) Reason in the most private and intimate moments abstracts…
First, this clandestine homage to Mrs Scruton or whomever it might be, is comical. Second, it reminds one, by contrast, of Kierkegaard’s words. It is in a moment of anguish, because man is furthest away from his mind, that man is conceived. Then birth is another moment of unfathomable anguish for the woman and thus a new babe is thrown into this vale of tears.
Kierkegaard adds that only by primitive people is anguish absent at birth. The babe slips out and it’s done. The baby doesn’t even cry (and elsewhere on this blog I have commented Kant’s remark that the babe of man is the only born crying!) I saw it in a documentary film, Africa ama (1971) by Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni: only after the mother blows in the babe’s nose, evacuating mucus or something, does the baby start crying.
(Added March 20, 2021) the PDF:
In American law original understanding is the doctrine according to which judicial review should abide by the constituant’s original intent. This may sound pretty much like common sense, yet it is a minority opinion, which, as such, takes the name of ‘originalism,’ and the originals who defend it are ‘originalists.’
A major exponent of original understanding is Robert H. Bork, President Reagan’s failed nominee for the position of Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1987. His book The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law (1990) shall serve as a guideline to the present lesson.
Although there is much to be commended in Bork’s book, in the present lesson we are mainly concerned with laying down our disagreement with some of his interpretations.
‘‘The abandonment of original understanding in modern times means the transportation into the Constitution of the principles of a liberal culture that cannot achieve those results democratically.’’ (Bork, p. 9 of First Touchstone Edition, 1991)
Leaving aside the content part of the sentence, it sums up Bork’s technical opinion on judicial review as practiced in ‘modern times,’ namely, by judges who, feeling unconstrained by the constituant’s original intent, inject their own political views into judicial decisions. In the context with which he is concerned, this approach has served, according to him, to carry out a liberal agenda. And ‘democratically,’ here, means by elected legislatures (although, in a broader sense, nominated judges are as much part of the democratic life of a nation as elected legislatures, we’ll come back to this later).
The claim is that a judge cannot disregard original understanding without relinquishing neutrality. To stick to the original intent is the only way not to force one’s own political views upon the body politic in one’s judicial decisions.
Thus, according to Bork, a substantive due process clause of the 5th amendment (No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law) was invented by Chief Justice Taney in the Dred Scott decision of 1857, whereas the amendment only contains a procedural due process clause.
As a matter of fact, Bork denies that a right to own slaves was in the Constitution. However, in the Court’s decision, Chief Justice Taney refers to the rights of property, which are obviously in the Constitution. A slaveholder had a property right on his slaves and, as the right of property is protected, the right to hold slaves was to the same degree.
A few years after Dred Scott and during the Civil War, the 13th amendment was adopted, excluding slaveholding as a form of constitutional right of property (Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States). Was, because of Dred Scott, a constitutional amendment necessary? I might even doubt it (see below), and yet it does not affect Dred Scott, inasmuch as, back then, slaveholding was as constitutional as any other holding of property. The clause struck down by the Court was an unconstitutional abridgement of the right to property; it does not mean that slaveholding was protected as such by the Constitution, that is, that the legislator could not decide to exclude slaveholding from the right of property, but as long as it was included in the latter right, it was protected accordingly, and according to existing statutes compatible with the Constitution.
This fallacy, that the Court would have introduced in the Constitution a right to hold slaves that was not in it, is Bork’s departing point. According to him, the substantive due process clause is the essence of later judicial activism, of ‘judicial legislation.’ He quotes Justice Black saying deprecatorily that the substantive clause is not the ‘law of the land’ but the ‘law of the judges’ (In re Winship, 1970).
To refuse to see slavery in the Constitution before the 13th amendment and to claim that the Court introduced it itself, amounts to giving slavery a definition it has never had, which makes it heterogeneous per se to the right of property. However, the freedom to own slaves, in a Constitution the letter of which knows of slavery (Art. I, Section 2, clause 3; Art. I, Section 9, clause 9; Art. IV, Section 2, clause 3), is the same thing as the right of property.
Even in the hypothetical case where slavery were absent from the letter of the Constitution, it is not permitted to interpret the right as not including slaveholding, for three reasons:
1/Slavery existed in the states at the time of the ratification of the Constitution;
2/The Constitution did not abolish slavery;
3/The Constitution does not enumerate the goods that it is legitimate to own as property, so the right includes all kinds of goods that the law held as permissible at the time of the ratification, which included slaves.
The Supreme Court in Dred Scott said that to deprive a slaveholder of his property when entering a state where that property was banned by statute (like Illinois, by state statute, and Louisiana, by the Missouri Compromise of 1821, the states involved in the case) is violating the right of property without due process of law. This is not the same, I believe, as saying that to vote a statute excluding some kinds of goods, here slaves, from legitimate property is unconstitutional. It is true that Chief Justice Taney went further toward ‘substance.’ However, had the Court made it clear that it was striking down, in the Missouri Compromise, not the statutory exclusion itself but the proceeding attached to the statute, depriving citizens from other states of their property as soon as entering the territory of the state that passed the statute, it would have injected no ‘substance’ at all in the due process clause. (That the consequence might follow that it is also unconstitutional to confiscate illicit drugs, for instance, is not unlikely; that would not shock me, and those aware of recent debates about forfeiture will show no surprise either.)
According to the Constitution, ‘‘No State shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts.’’ This clause is held by Bork, contrary to the Supreme Court in Hepburn v. Griswold (1870), to apply to the States and not the Union.
However, what could be the meaning of such a limitation, when federal law is as binding as state laws in the respective states? What would be the aim of placing such a constraint on the states, which would have few if any effects on individuals (as the federal law could still impair individuals’ contractual obligations), and that in a domain which has little bearing on the relationships between the states and the federal government? No, one must accept that a written Constitution leaves many things implicit, if only because the constituant cannot foresee all situations in the future, and also because too strict a litteral approach favors bad faith maneuvers that seek the flaws in the letter to the detriment of the original intent.
In the constitutional passage here, one fails to see what the constituant’s intent would be aimed at if he had intended to limit the states’ power to impair obligations of private contracts and not the Union’s, whereas, when both the states and the Union are held in check, one understands that the intent is to ensure the binding force of private contracts throughout the territory of the Union.
Here is a case where Bork asks the courts to adopt a litteral approach. Yet, in one major instance, a very important one in this thought, he asks them to do precisely the opposite.
Bork approves the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Slaughterhouse Cases (1873) involving the 14th amendment. The Court said the amendment applies to the newly freed slaves only. Yet the letter of the amendment (No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States) cannot lead to the conclusion that the amendment stops at racial questions. Indeed, in said cases dissident Justice Bradley asserted that the amendment was ‘embracing all citizens,’ and this would later become the line of the Court after it reversed its position†.
†Footnote: [On this particular clause of the 14th amendment, the Court is actually said to have maintained its position: ‘’The Court’s narrow restriction of the privileges and immunities clause continues to this day.’’ (J.R. Vile, on Slaugtherhouse Cases, in Essential Supreme Court Decisions, 2018) (Bork, for his part, says of this clause: ‘’The privileges and immunities clause, whose intended meaning remains largely unknown, was given a limited construction by the Supreme Court and has since remained dormant.’’ ) At the same time, as Bork emphasizes it time and again, another clause of the same amendment, the equal protection clause (No State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws), has been interpreted as ‘embracing all citizens’, for instance: ‘’It is clear that the ratifiers of the fourteenth amendment did not think they were treating women as an oppressed class similar in legal disadvantages to the newly freed slaves. That is an entirely modern notion and written into our jurisprudence only recently by the Supreme Court.’’ (Bork, 329) Therefore, as a result of the Supreme Court’s stare decisis, in the same sentence of the same amendment, in one part of this sentence (the privileges and immunities clause) the word ‘citizens’ is understood in a restrictive sense as meaning Blacks, and in the other part (the equal protection clause) the word ‘person’ is understood as embracing all citizens. This is certainly peculiar and unlikely to enhance American citizens’ knowledgeability in their own law.]
Bork agrees that the 14th amendment was specifically framed for Black people, the newly freed slaves. He acknowledges that its redaction is more general, more ‘embracing,’ to speak like Justice Bradley, and his argument here (pp. 65-6) is that some other general dispositions are applied by courts in a limited fashion consistent with the intent of the legislator. (As if he were not warning us throughout his book that courts could take militant positions.)
With this guideline of looking for the intent, Bork argues that the Court could have, with the same result, been ‘originalist’ in Brown v. Board of Education, for ‘’the real principle was that government may not employ race as a classification’’ (79) (as the equal protection clause is nothing less and nothing more than a prohibition on racial classification, according to him), but that the unanimous Justices chose another, ‘un-originalist’ way of reasoning, to reach their conclusion. Bork’s point, contrary to the mainstream interpretation of the case, is that the decision itself is consistent with the original intent of the framers of the 14th amendment, no matter how the Court got there.
Leaving aside that (1) a Black-White racial classification is not the only possible racial classification and (2) one fails to see how the will to abolish a slave-master relationship, even when this relationship overlapped with a Black-White classification, must imply an absolute mandate to relinquish every kind of racial classification (an altogether different subject –slavery needs not function on racial dividing lines– and the Chinese Exclusion Act subsequent to the 14th amendment surely pays no heed to the amendment being a racial classification prohibition clause), one entirely fails to see why, if by the 14th amendment they wanted to strike at racial classifications only, the legislators would not say so explicitly and would use the word ‘citizens’ and ‘person’ instead.
Many will find my essays on Brown v. Board of Education, in the previous Lessons of this blog (Lessons 4-6), naive, as I seem to believe that the Court’s aim was to end not only legal but also de facto segregation. I admit I have difficulties with the notion that the undoing of legal segregation and the policy of busing (not to mention affirmative action) had nothing to do with contemplating the end of de facto segregation. Especially because, as the Court claimed that legal segregation was an obstacle to Blacks feeling equal, I fail to see how the obstacle to feeling equal is removed when Blacks cannot put the blame for their marginality in the American society on the states any longer but have to put it on themselves, as they are told that the obstacle to their integration has been withdrawn. Current de facto segregation is of a center-margin structure, no doubt about it. (At the relevant level, which is the reverse of the topographic level, where white suburbia is the periphery.)
As the Court from the outset has refused to address the question of de facto segregation (the dead-on-arrival decision Shelley v. Kraemer, striking racially exclusive covenants, notwithstanding), if the aim was to put an end to a psychological feeling of inferiority, the truth is that Brown was not addressing the issue even remotely.
It remains that the Court could not prove that legal segregation was necessarily causing a feeling of inferiority among Blacks, although the apodixis was formally required to order the ending of legal segregation rather than its reform on new grounds.
Bork blames the Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) by which the Court struck down an anticontraception law, to have invented a tool for expanding ‘moral relativism in sexual matters’ but he has just explained in the previous pages that the anticontraception statute in question was not enforced (except in the present case, which was brought about as a test case, that is, intentionally by the claimants), and this means that moral relativism was already ensconced in legal affairs and that the Court, therefore, only affirmed it, not as an invention of the Justices, but as the current state of the law. It would have been different if the law had been enforced.
Justice Stewart called the anticontraception bill ‘an uncommonly silly law,’ yet it is a perfectly Christian law. The first and foremost deterrent to promiscuity is the possible consequence of unwanted pregnancy, and Christianity is ‘that religion precisely which extols the single state’ (Kierkegaard, The Instant N° 7). Obviously, for such a religion promiscuity must be a major evil. Had, on the other hand, Justice Stewart had STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and the preventative necessity to curb their spread in mind, he would have called the law dangerous, not silly, so he had not STDs in mind while making his comment, and so it is hard to know what he meant if not that Christianity is an uncommonly silly thing.
In Griswold the Court found especial fault in the fact that the law applied (or purported to apply, as it was not enforced, according to Bork) to married people and what they were doing in their bedrooms. Yet two spouses can be promiscuous with each other (the number of sexual partners is immaterial to the true definition of the word), so laws against promiscuity cannot leave spousal relationships out of their scope.
It is the same with antiabortion laws. As the best trammel to promiscuity is the risk of unwanted pregnancy, women must be compelled to bear the consequences of their sexual conduct in terms of pregnancy, in order for unwanted pregnancies to remain a deterrent. In the past, several, not all, antiabortion legislations made exceptions in case of rape, the result of which must be, however, that some women will want to terminate unwanted pregnancies by accusing the father, or any man, of rape, and such accusations, though baseless, may be hard to dismiss. (I believe many rape cases are decided mainly on the basis of conventional presumptions, such as, if the two individuals did not know each other before, rape, when alleged, is assumed, etc.)
And it is the same with antisodomy laws.
On Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), Bork makes the relevant following remark: ‘‘That rule [that only incitement to ‘imminent lawless action likely to produce such action’ falls outside the protection of the first amendment] … would not protect one who advocated a sit-in in a segregated lunch counter if the segregation was lawful and the advocacy produced a sit-in’’ (335).
Bork’s solution, however, is not acceptable: The right to advocacy of illegal conduct is a pillar of American freedom, the tenet that distinguishes it from all other nations in the world, which are police states and political caste (see below) states.
The solution must be, therefore, that incitement through speech is never a crime. How, anyway, does one reconcile criminalizing verbal incitement with the individualistic postulate of democracy? One is responsible for one’s actions; the law that criminalizes verbal incitement derives from another, archaic, opposite and incompatible postulate. While you criminalize verbal incitement, why do you not criminalize social conditions, systemic incitement? – Would you like to make an exception for crowds on the ground that crowds are irrational? Be aware that the social scientists who developed such theses, like the French Gustave Le Bon, also said that assemblies are crowds, legislative bodies are crowds.
Bork’s solution is the following: Advocacy of illegal conduct is not to be tolerated unless the conduct advocated is… lawful.
In his example above, he argues that, segregation being unconstitutional due to the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment, speech advocating a sit-in in a segregated lunch counter would be protected by the first amendment. The persons prosecuted for their speech could therefore invoke the unconstitutionality of segregation to demonstrate that, since segregation was unconstitutional, their speech was no advocacy of illegal conduct and was therefore protected by the first amendment.
To begin with, as executive authorities are no judge of the constitutionality of the laws they must enforce, if Bork’s solution were adopted prosecution would be unavoidable, and this in itself is repressive of speech, is bound to function as a form of censorship.
Then, the Constitution can be amended just as legislative statutes can be repealed, so there is no justification in allowing speech that incites conduct contrary to statutes (provided the statutes are proven unconstitutional) but not speech that incites conduct contrary to the Constitution.
This is why we suggest the rule of making unconstitutional all criminalization of verbal incitement.
One important thing omitted by Bork is that, in the separation of powers, irremovable judges must be a check to a political caste. But we are not really dealing with constitutional theory here, as the Constitution does not even know of political parties.
The lesser of two evils: ‘Judicial policymaking’ by irremovable judges is necessary to counter the underhand actions of a political caste, that is, to prevent the political class to become a political caste in the first place, and this is called for by the separation of powers itself, as a political caste cannot serve its vested interests without maintaining and increasing executive discretion and arbitrariness.
Bork is convinced that legislative policymaking is the result of a democratic tradeoff between political forces and that this tradeoff does not obtain in ‘judicial policymaking,’ but he ignores the common interest of a political caste in the absence of a sufficiently strong judicial counterpower. This common interest results, in questions bearing upon it, not in a political tradeoff but in caste unanimity against all other interests in the society. (Among other things, the caste suppresses speech, to prevent criticism.)
By caste we do not mean the traditional group structure based on the principle of heredity; we were only looking for a word that would make clear that in those democracies where the judiciary is weak the political class (and it is undeniable that there is a political class in the United States) degenerates into something else much more obnoxious.
The ‘liberal culture’ that Bork claims has been forced upon Americans by the US Supreme Court was on the other hand forced by their own legislators on European people. While reading the book, we hypothesized that the US Supreme Court may have set the precedent for legislations abroad, and that European legislators perhaps would not have passed such reforms as legalization of abortion, had not a great Western nation taken the lead, not by politicians but by nine judges. (In the media and political doxa, those European politicians are still held as ‘courageous,’ which implies that they went against the grain, against the mainstream, against the majority of the people.) The hypothesis is not historically supported as far as abortion is concerned. A chronology that would go from totalitarian legislation –Bolshevik rule in Russia (1920-1936, then 1955) and National-Socialist power in Germany (in the thirties)– to the US Supreme Court’s decision Roe v. Wade (1973) to European democratic legislations like France’s (1975), would leave aside a couple of legislative reforms in other countries (Mexico, Poland, Iceland in the thirties, etc).
For a common law judge, the legislator’s intent is not binding. The following quotation on the situation in Nordic countries will serve as an illustration, by the contrast it offers:
‘‘Such preparatory works [so-called travaux préparatoires to the adoption of legislative statutes] are therefore used extensively by the courts in Nordic countries as interpretive tools when facing legal uncertainties. The fact that judges both participate in the making of new laws and as the practical users of those laws can to some degree explain the willingness of courts to follow such interpretive sources without feeling unduly influenced by politics. (As a contrast, see Pepper v. Hurt , in which the British House of Lords –nowadays the Supreme Court– allowed for a rare consultation of political statements regarding the purpose of a law.) It might be said as a general observation that the courts in the Nordic countries try to stay loyal to legislative intent.’’
(Thomas Bull, in The Nordic Constitutions: A Comparative and Contextual Study, Krunke & Thorarensen ed., 2018)
Common law: the phrase is not to be found in the index of Bork’s book. Yet American judges are common law judges; Bork ignores it completely. His argument, in a nutshell, is that since the US has a written federal Constitution it is a regime of civil law (Roman law), but this is not the case, and one needs no modern constitutional theory, however liberal, to affirm that this is not.
For Bork, judicial policymaking must be interstitial, it must fill in the interstices of statutes, but in the philosophy of common law statutes fill the interstices of common law. – Coming from the very land hailed as the craddle of modern parliamentarism.
Bork’s concept of original understanding must by necessity make an entirely residual, insignificant power of the judiciary (like in France and other continental European countries) with the mere passage of time, for the simple and good reason that as time passes by the number and scope of situations that it is not possible to link satisfactorily to an original intent of the constituant must increase, so much so that the judge of 100 years from now will have to concede more power to the legislator than today’s judge, and the judge of 200 years from now more than the judge of 100 years from now. To prevent it, to maintain a balance of powers, the judiciary therefore must not approach the Constitution too literally, too narrowly, and this not in order to obtain new prerogatives but in order to avoid falling into insignificance, which would unavoidably lead to a despotic republic as warned about by Tocqueville (whom neither Bork nor his coauthors seem to have read).
To be sure, the Constitution can be amended to respond to evolutions. This power of constitutional amendment proves us right in the analysis of the passage of time. One must admit that its very existence shows that the original constituants have asked the posterity not to rely too much on their intent. Bork has little to say about this power of constitutional amendment that contradicts his claim that decisions of the Supreme Court are final. The fact that the legislator does not use this power more often against the decisions of the Court indicates that these decisions are not the will of ‘nine judges’ only. Bork advocates leaving many issues which the Supreme Court have dealt with recently to the legislative bodies, but the legislator has not used its constitutional power to oppose the Court’s decisions. To be sure, there exists an asymmetry between the decision procedure by the Court and the amendment procedure, the latter allowing for a minority veto, and that would confirm Bork that the will of the majority can be held in check. On the other hand, the Court’s decisions are allowed to be countermajoritarian only to a small degree, because if it were to a higher degree its decisions would be defeated by amendment more often than not.
To conclude, the following comparative law study will illustrate the tendencies of the political caste in continental Europe. (It is no accident that the United Kingdom of all European countries left the European Union: Common law is incompatible with this bureaucratic mess.)
In the US, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) defended the American Nazi party, in National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie (1977), and Nazi organizations are protected by freedom of association and freedom of speech. Needless to say, this is not the case in France, where civil liberties organizations would be on the frontline, and vociferously so, to oppose the legal existence of such parties. We know of a legal Nazi party in Denmark too, with swastikas and like paraphernalia, and we are trying to find more on the legal issues involved, as Denmark belongs to the EU and the Council of Europe, which have guidelines to fight ‘extremism’ so it should be easy to terminate these national protective laws but still the Danish Nazi party exists and is legal.
The position of some American Conservatives on free speech is disappointing, they tend to ask for a European model, like Justice Thomas on libel (US libel law is much more protective of speech than France’s) or Robert Bork on flag burning (constitutionally protected in the US whereas it is a criminal offense in France, where one may get six months jail time).
I agree with the latter, however, that pornography does not deserve the same protection. The US still makes a distinction between pornography and obscenity (which includes some pornography), allowing to prosecute the latter, which difference, of course, does not exist in France, where pornography is more protected than political speech.
The first amendment is good protection against state encroachments, but the issue is rising as to how one deals with private encroachments by internet platforms, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Their lobbyists argue that Section 230 protects platforms’ free speech as private actors. Their moderation and censorship is the platforms’ free speech, so the platforms would attack the repeal of S230 on first amendment grounds (cf previous Lessons). Yet they fail to see that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was needed because the Constitution does not protect minorities (ethnic, religious, etc) from private discrimination. As the 1964 Act stands in conformity with the Constitution, a bill that would prevent platforms to discriminate based on speech would equally be constitutionally unobjectionable. In the present state of the law, Twitter or Facebook could ban people based on the color of their skin and that would be legal and constitutional. The Supreme Court’s already named decision striking down racially exclusive private covenants (Shelley v. Kraemer) was dead on arrival, it has never been followed by other decisions, on the contrary the Court has ruled several times in the opposite direction, like in Evans v. Abney (1970) and Moose Lodge N° 107 v. Irvis (1972). Where the Civil Rights Act or Acts are silent, private discrimination is perfectly legal and constitutional in America. French legislators and courts have never granted private actors such room.
The European political caste, challenged by no judicial power worthy of the name, has forced the ‘liberal culture’ Bork is talking about on their people much more rabidly than the US Supreme Court on Americans.