May 09, 2014

Town of Greece dissenters strike blow for ecumenism?

  The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway addressed the constitutionality, under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, of prayers offered before town meetings. The split was 5-4 upholding the practice, with the dissenters arguing that the practice effectively established Christianity as the town’s religion. The dissent indirectly touched upon a curious question: Is “Christianity” a single religion?
  According to the dissents of Justices Breyer and Kagan, all Christians, including Catholics and all stripes of Protestants, are in fact a single religion. See Breyer op. at 4 (“a single denomination”), 4 (“a single religion”), 6 (“a single faith”); Kagan op. at 2 (“only one faith”), 6, 9 n.2 (“a single religion”), 18 (“a single creed”), 19 (“one (and only one) faith”); cf. Kagan op. at 14 (acknowledging clergy came from both “Protestant and Catholic churches”). I don’t know if this reflects theological ignorance or laziness, or if it’s just easier to argue that there’s an “establishment” if you treat a potpourri of distinct religious professions as monolithic rather than diverse. In any event, I’m sure it would be news to the various figures behind the historic doctrinal and ecclesial struggles between Orthodox and Catholic, between Catholic and Protestant, and among various Protestant denominations, that in fact they were all “a single denomination”.

May 06, 2014

Raise the Minimum Wage to Fight Abortion?

  Abortion and minimum wage laws? What do they have to do with each other? Answer: nothing . . . unless abortion opponents catch on to their potential to shut down the abortion industry.

  The basic argument for raising the minimum wage is that it will benefit low-wage workers by increasing their pay from their employers. The basic argument against raising the minimum wage is that employers who cannot afford to hire unskilled workers at higher wages will simply not hire them (or not hire as many), thereby denying jobs to the very people the bill is supposed to help.
  Well, this debate is all very abstract and all very boring to most people, I suspect. How about tying the argument to a hot-button issue?
  Here’s the plan: First, point out the fact that employees in abortion facilities face very unpleasant conditions. They may deal with death, blood, and foul stench in the workplace, stigma in their social circles, nightmares in their sleep, slimy abortionists as supervisors, and pangs in their consciences.
  Second: Appeal to the notion that it is only fair that abortion staff be compensated at a level commensurate with the ordeal their job entails. That means getting a bigger salary than some of the money-hungry abortion businesses are currently allowing them.
 Third: Introduce a federal (or state) bill to give a hefty raise to the minimum wage of employees working in the area of “reproductive rights”.
  Fourth: Recruit political support from liberals. After all, by their own logic, raising minimum wages is good for workers and society. Moreover, what is good for abortion workers will increase the attractiveness of that area of employment and boost the supply of willing employees for abortion business owners to hire.
  Fifth: To defuse opposition, let politicians who oppose abortion know that this bill will actually reduce abortion, explaining that the effect of the bill will be to raise the cost of doing business for abortionists, thereby cutting into their profit margin and increasing the likelihood that they will close up shop.
  Sixth: Hope the liberal co-sponsors will continue believing their own talking points, namely that raising minimum wages enhances worker conditions without reducing job opportunities, long enough to pass the bill.
  Bingo! The bill passes, the President proudly signs it with Cecile Richards by his side, and abortion businesses take a financial hit. (How big the hit is will depend on how high the minimum wage is raised.)
  With that accomplished, then go to Stage Two: What about the beleaguered abortion doctors? Don’t they also need an increased minimum contract rate (or salary) to compensate for the heavy personal cost of doing abortions? Follow the same steps as above to enact a bill to raise their pay.
  At some point, of course, the abortion lobby will catch on and raise the alarm, arguing that hiking minimum wages actually threatens their businesses by making them pay more than the market rate for services. Which is the point of this article.

* Walter M. Weber is an attorney who has practiced constitutional law for nearly 30 years. This post is made in his official capacity and does not necessarily represent the views of his employer.