Pharyngula

I think Lord Justice Laws would be an excellent choice, even if he is British. He recently handed down a decision in the case of a therapist who refused to treat same-sex couples that was simply beautiful.

Lord Justice Laws said legislation for the protection of views held purely on religious grounds cannot be justified.

He said it was irrational and “also divisive, capricious and arbitrary”.

Also: cool name for a judge.

Comments

  1. #1 tsg
    April 29, 2010

    “I am the Law!”

  2. #2 alistair.coleman
    April 29, 2010

    We also have a Lord Justice Judge.

    The United Kingdom: Where justice is extraordinarily literal.

  3. #3 Fortknox
    April 29, 2010

    We also have a Lord Justice Judge.

    Yep, I noticed that, these coincidental names are really becoming weird.

    As for the verdict explanation it is just about perfect. If only more public officials would be so pro-actively rational.

  4. #4 somewhereingreece
    April 29, 2010

    Wasn’t Judge Dredd a british comic as well?

    (beautiful smackdown btw. Health professionals are there for the patients, not the other way around. I hope when the case of pharmacists who refuse to dispense BC etc come to court they have a similar treatment)

  5. #5 JMk2
    April 29, 2010

    Another report on this, with reaction, in an article in The Times: Special legal protection of Christianity ‘divisive, capricious and arbitrary’. (Which should be enough to identify the paper – it’s not correctly ‘The Times of London’ so far as I know.)

  6. #6 christopherjslaby
    April 29, 2010

    Uh, PZ, hold your horses. At one point, the article says this:

    Lord Justice Laws said Lord Carey’s views were “misplaced” and judges had never likened Christians to bigots, or sought to equate condemnation by some Christians of homosexuality with homophobia.

    Is it just me or does it seem like this judge is suggesting that religious condemnation of homosexuality is not the same thing as homophobia? I mean, we could parse the nuances of the words, but I think we can all pretty easily come to the same accurate conclusion. It is homophobia and they are bigots.

  7. #7 martha
    April 29, 2010

    We’ve had some cool judge names here in the US. Justice Learned Hand for example. And don’t forget 5th circuit court of appeals judge Minor Wisdom, a conservative supporter of civil rights.

  8. #8 cheesushchrist
    April 29, 2010

    My favourite bit in full:

    “The promulgation of law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified. It is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective. But it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary. We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion ? any belief system ? cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens; and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic. The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law; but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.

    So it is that the law must firmly safeguard the right to hold and express religious belief; equally firmly, it must eschew any protection of such a belief’s content in the name only of its religious credentials. Both principles are necessary conditions of a free and rational regime. As I have shown Lord Carey’s statement also contains a plea for a special court. I am sorry that he finds it possible to suggest a procedure that would, in my judgment, be deeply inimical to the public interest.”

  9. #9 Ing
    April 29, 2010

    Lord Justice Judge”

    He has since retired from law and is now the minister for the department of superfluous redundancies

  10. #10 pteryxx
    April 29, 2010

    re christopherjslaby @6 ish:

    “Is it just me or does it seem like this judge is suggesting that religious condemnation of homosexuality is not the same thing as homophobia? I mean, we could parse the nuances of the words, but I think we can all pretty easily come to the same accurate conclusion. It is homophobia and they are bigots.”

    I think the judge’s quote states only that such equation has never been explicitly stated in a ruling. It seems obvious that religious refusal to treat *is* homophobia. Medical personnel, for instance, may strongly disapprove of drug abuse, or violence, or being on welfare, etc, but they still must set their personal feelings aside and give a patient the best care. So counselors could personally disapprove of same-gender relationships, as long as they set their opinions aside and still render care without judgement. But refusal to interact with said clients is homophobia, just as say a contractor refusing to speak to female customers would be sexism.

  11. #11 Truckle
    April 29, 2010

    Having read that Times piece on it, the ruling gets better and better!

    As Cheesus points out, it is a very principled and reasoned stand, to rule any other way would be to open a door to many other interpretations of religious ‘persecution’ and ‘discrimination’ allowing religions to try to drag us back to 100 years ago…

    How is Lord Carey’s wish for a special “Christian court” any different from the “Sharia Courts” that caused such outrage when they were suggested and the outcry from Christians (and secularists but for different reasons I suspect)?

  12. #12 Walton
    April 29, 2010

    As an English law student, I’ve encountered Sir John Laws on several occasions before. He is perhaps best known for his controversial judgment in Thoburn v Sunderland City Council, a case concerning the relationship between English law and European Community law (as it then was). He is a constitutional scholar, and is also known to be a big fan of the judicial protection of human rights.

    And yes, we do also have a judge called Igor Judge – indeed, Lord Judge is currently the Lord Chief Justice, the head of the judiciary in England and Wales. (Not to be confused with the President of the Supreme Court – formerly Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary – who is the most senior judge for the whole UK.)

  13. #13 Michelle R
    April 29, 2010

    …Lord Justice Laws? Oh my god, bring out Judge Dredd.

  14. #14 Bill Dauphin, OM
    April 29, 2010

    Ing (@9):

    [Lord Justice Judge] has since retired from law and is now the minister for the department of superfluous redundancies

    Not Silly Walks?

    Walton (@12):

    As an English law student, I’ve encountered Sir John Laws on several occasions before.

    As an American motorist, I’ve encountered his American cousin Johnny Law on more than one occasion, as well! ;^0

  15. #15 cervantes
    April 29, 2010

    The Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court used to be Judge Ment. True fact. (BTW, it’s not a secret — my real last name is also Laws. But I’m not a lawyer.)

  16. #16 John Sherman
    April 29, 2010

    Britain’s top neurologist for many years was named Walter Russell Brain. He was later given a title and spent the last part of his life as Baron Brain. He did not try to take over the world.

  17. #17 Pierce R. Butler
    April 29, 2010

    … a therapist who refused to treat same-sex couples …

    While the therapist was clearly begging for a smackdown, the couples in question would seem unlikely to have gotten any benefit from the advice of a person with zero experience and negative understanding of their situations.

  18. #18 somewhereingreece
    April 29, 2010

    @ing #9:

    This has got to be one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. Ing FTW!

  19. #19 Gustav Nyström
    April 29, 2010

    Lord Justice Law and Lord Justice Judge – They fight crime!

  20. #20 Gustav Nyström
    April 29, 2010

    @16

    Britain’s top neurologist for many years was named Walter Russell Brain. He was later given a title and spent the last part of his life as Baron Brain. He did not try to take over the world.

    That’s what he wants you to think…

  21. #21 bernarda
    April 29, 2010

    There are currently 6 Catholics and 2 Jews on the Supreme Court. How did this happen? It is hardly representative of the American public.

  22. #22 Bill Dauphin, OM
    April 29, 2010

    IMHO, none of these coincidentally appropriate names can hold a candle to Cardinal Sin.

    Britain’s top neurologist for many years was named Walter Russell Brain. He was later given a title and spent the last part of his life as Baron Brain. He did not try to take over the world.

    That’s what he wants you to think…

    The tell-tale sign to look for is whether you ever see him stroking a white Persian cat.

  23. #23 MJP
    April 29, 2010

    To the Lawmobile!

  24. #24 Jeeves
    April 29, 2010

    Lord Justice Laws and
    Lord Justice Judge

    Isn’t this an example of what New Scientist, at least I’ve not seen it described elsewhere, calls “Nominative Determinism”?

  25. #25 Moveable Type
    April 29, 2010

    Yup! When I was a Copper (Police officer) I knew a Constable Constable and a Sergeant Sergeant.

    Life sure is strange.

  26. #26 Jadehawk, OM
    April 29, 2010

    Yup! When I was a Copper (Police officer) I knew a Constable Constable and a Sergeant Sergeant.

    yes, but do you know a Major Major Major Major?

  27. #27 GravityIsJustATheory
    April 29, 2010

    There was a dentist in my home town called Dr Fang.

  28. #28 blf
    April 29, 2010

    I knew a Constable Constable and a Sergeant Sergeant.

    Now if it was the other way around, and Sergeant Constable was Constable Sergeant’s boss…

  29. #29 augustus mulliner
    April 29, 2010

    Divisive, Capricious and Arbitrary is also a great name for a law firm.

  30. #30 blf
    April 29, 2010

    I found this bit in the linked-to BBC article a classic bit of special pleading:

    Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey had earlier called for judges with a “proven sensitivity and understanding of religious issues” to hear the case.

    Lord Carey said recent decisions involving Christians by the courts had used “dangerous” reasoning and this could lead to civil unrest.

    Lord Justice Laws was having none of it:

    Lord Justice Laws said Lord Carey’s views were “misplaced” and judges had never likened Christians to bigots, or sought to equate condemnation by some Christians of homosexuality with homophobia.

    Carey is not the only nutter, and Laws isn’t the only sensible person:

    “The right to follow a religious belief is a qualified right and it must not be used to legitimise discrimination against gay people.” [The article is less than-clear, but I think that was said by Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society.]

    Derek Munn, a director at gay pressure group Stonewall, said: “People delivering public services mustn’t be able to pick and choose who they will serve on the basis of personal prejudice.["]

    But Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Mr McFarlane simply wanted his religious beliefs to be accommodated by his employer, which, in the specific facts of the case, was not unreasonable.

    “It seems that a religious bar to office has been created, whereby a Christian who wishes to act on their Christian beliefs on marriage will no longer be able to work in a great number of environments.”

    No, Ms Williams, that’s not correct at all. It means no-one—muslims, atheists, buddhists, christians, …—will be able to discriminate on the basis of their beliefs (or lack of belief). Which is precisely how it should be. You know, Rule of Law and all that.

  31. #31 Matt Penfold
    April 29, 2010

    On the subject of nominative determinism, I know a plumber by the name of Bath. His three sons are also plumbers, and he tells me his wife call them the bidets.

  32. #32 Moveable Type
    April 29, 2010

    Jadehawk @ #26

    Er, No!

    blf @ #28

    Remember that before Constable Constable became Constable Constable he was just Mr Constable and before Sergeant Sergeant became Sergeant Sergeant he was just plain Constable Sergeant.

    It gets better ;o) When Constable Constable got promoted he became Sergeant Constable, and when Sergeant Sergeant got promoted he became Inspector Sergeant.

  33. #33 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 29, 2010

    Divisive, Capricious and Arbitrary is also a great name for a law firm.

    Almost as good as Dewey, Cheetem & Howe. The senior partner of this firm is Hugh Louis Dewey, known to the hot dog salesmen of Harvard Square as Huey Louie Dewey.

  34. #34 Bill Dauphin, OM
    April 29, 2010

    I guess fictional names are a bit of a cheat, but the USA Network TV show In Plain Sight features a U.S. marshall whose first name is Marshall, making him Marshall Marshall Mann!

  35. #35 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    April 29, 2010

    Other news from the Supreme Court (US):

    Supreme Court allows Mojave war memorial cross

    The decision can be read here:
    http://jonathanturley.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/08-472.pdf

  36. #36 SteveV
    April 29, 2010

    And who can forget Col. Bat Guano & General Jack D Ripper?

  37. #37 m.
    April 29, 2010

    Ach! So sad that the nominative determinism (if crude and puerile) present in “Derek Munn, a director at gay pressure group Stonewall” is completely lost in all human languages save one. Sorry, just had to note it. *blush, away*

  38. #38 Pacal
    April 29, 2010

    Read the article linked to in Post 5. The opponents of the ruling were very fascinating. Basically it boiled down too “If I can’t discriminate in how I perform my job I’m being persecuted!”. The whining was annoying. Look this place had a polcyin place to help people with certain problems which they are mandated to provide. THis person was quite simply refusing to do his job, and too refuse to do with a reason that is discriminatory and illegial under the law. That he got fired is not a surprise.

    God I’m so annoyed with the “We can’t discriminate!, Its so unfair!!. WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!”

  39. #39 momkat
    April 30, 2010

    We had an obstetrician in town named Dr. Payne.

  40. #40 tutone21
    April 30, 2010

    @ Bill Dauphin #38

    Is that show any good? I am not the biggest Molly MaCormack fan so I keep not watching it despite my usual love of USA programming. Such bad television…

  41. #41 tutone21
    April 30, 2010

    sorry, #34, I need coffee.

  42. #42 Moveable Type
    April 30, 2010

    We used to have a Dentist called J. Mort!

    He used to one of the older type low-speed belt-drive drills. Not a happy time!

  43. #43 kev_s
    May 1, 2010

    And let’s not forget the journalist who wrote about abusive catholic priests who’s called Roger Boyes.

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