Friday, August 30, 2013

More From Tillman on Stone

Here is a link to the Corner that features Tillman's comment. A taste:
Professor Geoffrey R. Stone—University of Chicago School of Law—was recently appointed to the NSA Surveillance Review Committee. Professor Stone has written on some subjects which may interest your readers.

Geoffrey R. Stone, The Second Great Awakening: A Christian Nation?, 26 Georgia State University Law Review 1305, 1333 (2010):

“This is the fundamental issue posed by the Second Great Awakening, and it remains a fundamental issue today. As citizens, advocates of Sunday closing laws, temperance legislation, the abolition of slavery, anti-abortion laws, prohibitions of stem-cell research, and law forbidding same-sex marriage are free to support such policies because they honestly believe they serve constitutionally legitimate ends; and they are also free to urge others to embrace and abide by their religious beliefs. But what they are not free to do, what they must strive not to do if they want to be good citizens, is to use the law disingenuously to impose their own religious beliefs on others.”

I guess some opposition to slavery is “disingenuous” if somehow connected to religion. Why does Stone think it so obvious that a citizen circa 1860 who had supported public policies seeking to limit or to overthrow slavery on sectarian religious grounds failed to live up to the aspirational goals of our constitutional order? Is it a matter of any concern that slave owners were, to use Professor Stone’s terms, “imposed” upon? One wonders why Professor Stone sees the legal order so clearly through the eyes of slave owners, rather than the slave who might have had his shackles loosened? Why cannot Professor Stone see that in our world of second bests, First Amendment church-state absolutism ought, in some circumstances, to give way to other values, and that in making that difficult weighing of competing values responsible persons should be loathe to declare our fellows bad citizens merely because they weigh things differently than we do?

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