Quote of the moment: Judge Richard Posner, on tradition and marriage

August 27, 2014

Judge Richard Posner, 7th Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals

Judge Richard Posner, 7th Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals

“It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away.”

Federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner, balking when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to “tradition” as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.

Two states attorneys general argued before a panel of judges on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago yesterday that marriage between members of the same gender should be stopped because of tradition.  AP’s story explains what happened.

While judges often play devil’s advocate during oral arguments, the panel’s often-blistering questions for the defenders of the same-sex marriage bans could be a signal the laws may be in trouble — at least at this step in the legal process.

Richard Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, hit the backers of the ban the hardest. He balked when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to “tradition” as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.

“It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away,” the 75-year-old judge said. Prohibition of same-sex marriage, Posner said, derives from “a tradition of hate … and savage discrimination” of homosexuals.

Posner is one of those guys who gives us hope for the human race, and hope especially for that branch of the human race known as Homo americanus ssp. ordinarius.

Appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan, Posner is widely recognized as one of the brightest and most engaging judges in the U.S. today.  That’s a sop to all the rest, to call him “one of ” the brightest — to avoid making everybody else give up hope.

But he’s outspoken enough that most legal scholars agree he’d never survive a hearing to take a place on the U.S. Supreme Court.  The late Sen. Roman Hruska’s revenge, that we can’t get the best and the brightest on our highest court.

Posner is not content to sit on the bench and make high pronouncements.  He pushes America, courts and lawyers, to be better.  He teaches at the University of Chicago Law School (in a position not unlike that the young Barack Obama had).  Posner’s high-flying comment-on-anything-important style got cut back in the past few months when his blogging partner died — Nobel-winning economist Gary S. Becker.

It must be agony to be a lawyer defending a pointless, silly and destructive law, to a panel that includes Richard Posner.

Arun With a View captured the reasons Posner strikes fear in conservatives, despite his being a Ronald Reagan conservative.

Sketch of Judge Richard Posner by the late David Levine

Sketch of Judge Richard Posner by the late David Levine

NPR has a delicious interview with Richard Posner. Money quote

“I’ve become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy,” [Posner] said.

And this

“Because if you put [yourself] in [John Roberts'] position … what’s he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, ‘What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?’ Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position.”

Listen to it here and enjoy.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Texas Freedom Network’s emails — probably on the blog sometime soon.

Yes, I read Posner despite his errors, getting hoaxed by the DDT/Rachel Carson hoaxsters. That just indicates the danger of the hoax and the need to correct it and stamp it out.

More:


54th 4 Stone Hearth, and anthropology

December 5, 2008

Cognition and Culture hosts the 54th edition of 4 Stone Hearth, the blog carnival on issues archaeological.  Interesting venue — solidly academic, and a valuable resource for teachers all by itself.

It’s a great carnival, really — marriage, poetry, and even a video of a new toy from Bandai.

And on a related note, here’s a post that ought to make the 55th edition of 4 Stone Hearth:  Remote Central found a list of the top 100 anthropology blogs.  Useful searching.   There be great resources for the classroom, I’ll wager.


Religious insanity: No sperm, no mass

June 8, 2008

A Quantum Diaries Survivor detours from physics to bring us news that in a small Italian town church authorities denied the rites of marriage to a paralyzed man, on the grounds that he can’t make babies.

Remember this case the next time some nut starts ranting about how marriage between two people of the same gender somehow endangers marriage. There’s no way to protect the “sanctity of marriage” when clowns with clerical titles work so determinedly to mock the institution of marriage, and the concepts of compassion, charity and family, from within the church.


6 ways to tell if your boss is a good one?

November 12, 2007

Oh, if only. The post is advice to women wondering whether they should keep the guy or throw him back, “Six tests to determine if he’s Mr. Right.” *

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see the boss in those situations, too, so you know whether to take the job? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see your principal or department head in these conditions, so you’d know more about what to expect?

We’re generally more careful about long-term romantic relationships than we are about jobs. That may be why marriages — even the bad ones — often last longer than jobs.

It may explain why some jobs last longer than marriages, too. I remember sitting down with people from Southwest Airlines’ People Department once, and hearing them describe Herb Kelleher’s vision of the company: Kids grow up, siblings move away, spouses come and go, but Southwest Airlines will be there for you always.

Even when you’re sick?

Something to think about.

* Yeah, I noticed it’s from a blog called “Suddenly Christian.” He talks about a two-week trip, in a car, cross-country, with a potential mate. The author has at least one foot on the ground.


40 years of Loving — the changes we see

June 15, 2007

1968 propelled history in dramatic fashion, much of it tragic. History teachers might await the 40th anniversary stories of 1968’s events, knowing that the newspapers and television specials will provide much richer material than any textbook could hope for.

Was 1967 less momentous? Perhaps. But an anniversary this week only serves to highlight how the entire decade was a series of turning points for the United States. This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s issuing the decision in Loving v. Virginia. The Lovings had been arrested, convicted and exiled from the state of Virginia for the crime of — brace yourself — getting married.

Richard and Mildred Loving, Bettman-Corbis Archive

You see, Virginia in those days prohibited marriage between a black person and a white person. So did 15 other states. In language that is quaint and archaic to all but Biblical literalist creationists, the trial judge said:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

The Lovings appealed their conviction. They appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down laws that prohibit a person of one “race” from marrying a person of another. (I put “race” in quotes because, as we have since learned from DNA studies, there is just one race among us, the human race. Science verifies that the Supreme Court got it right, as did the Americans before them who wrote the laws upon which the Supreme Court’s decision was based.)

From 1958 to 1967 — nine years the case wended through the courts. Oral argument was had on April 10 — the decision coming down in just two months seems dramatically quick by today’s standards. This was one of the cases that angered so many Americans against the Court presided over by Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from Culture Wars points to a statement from Mildred Loving on this anniversary. The statement is below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »


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