Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I must be getting old

Back when I grew up, it was simply unthinkable that the U.S. Government would tell a Church what was permissible doctrine.  And it was simply unthinkable that the U.S. Army would muzzle an Archbishop in furtherance of same:
... the statement released by the Military Archdiocese, the US Army is concerned that Archbishop Broglio may be calling US soldiers to defy the legal orders of their superiors, and engage in what Army politely refers to as "civil disobedience."
The Archbishop's letter is here.

Look, it's not like Catholic doctrine changed over the last few decades.  And it's not like there's a shadow of a doubt as to whether or not this was a lawful order by the Secretary of the Army:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
If the Republican Party is not the Stupid Party, they should introduce a bill of Impeachment charging the Secretary of violating the First Amendment.  Sure, the Senate won't convict, but this is a political issue - whether the Constitution means what it says or not - and should be dealt with as such.


ASM826 said...

As we used to say, "They won't do it, they haven't got the hair on their ass."

This is a Constitutional crisis, whether it is treat as such or not.

Differ said...

Gradually we have gotten to a government that tramples our first ammendment rights, but sure as eggs are eggs will entertain the latest lunacy of allowing PETA to go to trial as plaintifs for Seaworld Orcas 13th ammendment rights not to be indentured servants or slaves.
I don't see anything in the constitution where we the people includes animals....but to imply that whales aren't people is probably politically incorrect now....I hear the thought police walking up my drive...gotta go.

Chris said...

Expecting a bill of impeachment from the leadership of the Stupid Party? That would also assume that some of them are vertebrates.

Murphy's Law said...

Awarded you are, Mmmmm..


B said...

Seems that this was decided in 1997....THe Army can't tell Chaplains what to do.


wolfwalker said...

It's a sad irony of our legal system that members of the United States Armed Forces truly don't have the same constitutional rights that civilians do.

Mr Johnson's position is admirable ... but there's a piece missing. What case was he referring to? As I understand it, the Uniform Code of Military Justice forbids active-duty uniformed soldiers from sedition, mutiny, disobedience to orders, and other "conduct detrimental to the chain of command." Soldiers who are off duty and not in uniform can do what they like, but on duty there are certain things they can't do. Whether or not an Army chaplain - an Army officer - preaching to an Army congregation while on Army property is covered by those laws is ... very much open to debate.

Anonymous said...

wolfwalker so soldiers have to blindly follow orders I wonder where I've heard that before? However you can still follow orders strictly to the letter and this will itself cause mayhem. Generals will have to be extremely specific or see lots of hardware go crunch also no orders means do nothing.

bradley13 said...

One thing that is often forgotten. What do military officers swear to? "I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". In fact, officers are obligated to refuse illegal orders, and most especially unconstitutional ones.

The problem is that you are likely to land in front of a Court Martial for doing so, especially if the political powers support whatever the action is. As an example, here is a detailed article about a Lieutenant who refused to deploy to Iraq, because he regarded the war as illegal. It gets especially interesting in section III.A.. The author points out that, even though the US regards essentially all wars are presumptively legal (with or without a declaration of war), the attack on Iraq in 2003 was a bit of a special case. This war was clearly illegal under international law; this was recognized by the US, thus making it also clearly illegal under US law. The Lieutenant was right.

By all rights, the JCS should have told President Bush "Yes sir, we'll attack, just as soon as you get that declaration of war from Congress". However, political animals that they are, the JCS didn't have the balls...

As a matter of interest, the Army was unable to convict the Lieutenant in his Court Martial; he was simply discharged.

wolfwalker said...

Someone's letting their prejudices run away with them...

President Bush did get authorization for the 2003 invasion of Iraq from Congress. And from the Security Council. It was also arguably a response to Iraqi aggression, and equally arguably an enforcement action of the agreement that ended the first Gulf War a decade before -- Saddam made commitments in that agreement and then refused to keep them. Lt. Watada's trial was mired in legalistic quibbling when Barry Lackwit took power and ordered the case dropped.

The "don't follow an illegal order" doctrine is usually understood to apply to battlefield orders issued by one's immediate superior, not deployment orders issued by the Commander in Chief. And there is always a presumption that the order is legal, and the defendant has to prove that it isn't.

In any case, my point was that this time, the situation is not clear cut. There are plausible arguments that the Army's action was wrong; there are plausible arguments that the Army was within its legal powers. Note that IMO this applies only to the situation involving Army chaplains -- the underlying action by Barry Lackwit of attempting to violate Catholics' religious freedom is clearly not constitutional, and no amount of legal mumbo jumbo can reasonably imply that it is.

bradley13 said...

wolfwalker is right on several points, not least of which is that orders are presumed to be legal, and the burder of proof is on the person disobeying.

As far as my prejudices: It's water under the bridge by now, but President Bush got his authorizations for the Iraq invasion after the fact. Which is one of the points made in the legal paper I referenced.

Anonymous said...

The Repubs may be stupid about some things BP but not this. This is about real politik.

There is a cultural war on against Christianity. I hate to say it but it's true - and the Christians are on the losing side. Hell, many libertarians are leading the assault too!

In the real world if the Repubs stand up for Christians they will get crucified for it. The gay lobby, the largely atheist libertarians and other groups will take umbrage and see such an alliance as a swipe at them, and not an act of Constitutional protection. Any political party will be loathe to make powerful enemies like that.

It is a fascinating dilemma for all the parties involved when you think about it.


Anonymous said...

To be taken seriously, all Christians have to do is start threatening people with bodily harm.