Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Sanders on the Pope and Federalism

Steve Sanders has a couple of terrific posts up currently at Reason and Liberty. The first is about Pope John Paul II’s most recent statements calling gay marriage “evil”. You can hear sadness in his voice as he writes this, and I can understand why. Like Steve, I’ve always held the current Pope in fairly high esteem despite our obvious disagreements. I’ve admired his ecumenical nature, his respect for science and his breadth of knowledge on a wide range of matters. He is, in short, a scholarly man in a position where it is easy not to be one. And as Steve notes, he is a man who has clearly been influenced by Enlightenment humanism. All the more disappointing, then, to see his increasingly shrill statements about gay marriage, calling it part of an “ideology of evil”.

The second post is on the decidedly non-conservative policies of the Bush administration, something I write about frequently as well. There was a day when being a conservative meant being for fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, smaller government and a healthy federalism that allowed more state control. Those days have faded into a vague and distant past. We can all point to numerous examples of President Bush flouting those principles – the new Medicare bill/boondoggle/tax giveaway, the almost universally reviled No Child Left Behind act, the $400+ billion deficits.

Steve has spotted yet another example. It seems the administration is going to appeal a 9th Circuit ruling that upheld the Oregon assisted suicide law to the Supreme Court. This is also yet another example – as though we needed one – of the fact I hammer on constantly, that the rhetoric from conservatives about “judicial activism” and “judicial tyrrany” and how the courts “subvert the will of the people” to assert federal control over the states is essentially meaningless. All it means is “courts doing things I don’t like”, because when they agree with the court ruling, they have no problem whatsoever with unelected judges overturning even laws directly passed by popular referendum.

The Oregon law was passed not once but twice by popular referendum in that state, so there is no doubt whatsoever that it represents the will of the people in that state. Just like the stem cell research referendum was passed in California last year, also now being challenged by conservative groups in court who want “unelected judges” to overturn “the will of the people”. Now if we could just sneak a line about this into Alanis Morrisette’s song Ironic.