Statement regarding judge’s order to recognize same-sex marriages in Utah

scalesToday’s decision is disappointing because it rewards judicial overreaching. There’s nothing in the United States Constitution that allows courts to mandate same-sex marriage on the states, but one judge was able to do just that by issuing a novel ruling and then forcing the state to put it into effect before the court of appeals could correct any legal errors in that decision. Our system is weaker when judicial gamesmanship is not kept in check. We trust the 10th Circuit will do that quickly.

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Am I the only one skeptical of projections for 36 years from now?

SuburbanStreetYou may have seen recent news coverage about a report projecting that Utah’s population will double by the year 2050.

On the heels of this reporting, some voices have been calling for “smart growth” policies to preserve quality of life in Utah. Utah’s quality of life is not in any actual danger today from population growth, but presumably that inconvenient fact is not important to the “smart growth” paradigm. Instead, what seems important are things like “embrac[ing] a more urban lifestyle” and funneling population growth into areas near public transit, in order to encourage this preferred lifestyle.

But does the basis for this approach to public policy make any sense?

Try this thought exercise: Can you predict with confidence where you will be in 36 years? Unless you expect to be dead by that time, the rational answer is “no.” Now let’s go a bit larger: Can you predict with confidence where your family members will be in 36 years? In this case, the rational answer is an even more emphatic “no.” One more: Can you predict with confidence where everyone in your neighborhood will be in 36 years? Perhaps the relevant response is: “If I can’t predict where my close loved ones will be by then, how in the world am I supposed to predict where relative strangers will be?” Good question.

Now think about this: The “smart growth” policies being advocated in Utah are founded on the idea that a relatively small group of experts (researchers, government planners, and elected officials) can predict with confidence not just where you, your family, and your neighbors will be in 36 years, but where every person in the state of Utah will be in 36 years. And based on these guesses, they want to plan out how most people should be living their lives and doing business in Utah. And, yes, they do this with a straight face.

Look at it this way. Would you have wanted researchers and government leaders in 1978 – 36 years ago, before smartphones and the Internet even existed – to plan out the lifestyle and standard of living you would enjoy today? I shudder to think where quality of life would be in Utah today if it were dictated by the understanding and knowledge of the late 1970s. Continue reading

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A win for public prayer, and freedom, at Supreme Court – Mero Moment, 5/13/14

This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

800px-United_states_supreme_court_building

In the May 5 U.S. Supreme Court decision City of Greece, New York v. Galloway, the court saved public prayers in legislative settings and, in doing so, reminded Americans that freedom transcends modern progressivism.

In the court’s decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, “The Court is not persuaded that the town of Greece, through the act of offering a brief, solemn, and respectful prayer to open its monthly meetings, compelled its citizens to engage in a religious observance.”

Secularists, represented by Americans United For the Separation of Church and State, claimed that public prayer violated the Establishment Clause and offended the sensibilities of non-believers.

The court responded, “As a practice that has long endured, legislative prayer has become part of our heritage and tradition, part of our expressive idiom, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance, inaugural prayer, or the recitation of ‘God save the United States and this honorable Court’ at the opening of this Court’s sessions.”

The court continued, “It is presumed that the reasonable observer is acquainted with this tradition and understands that its purposes are to lend gravity to public proceedings and to acknowledge the place religion holds in the lives of many private citizens, not to afford government an opportunity to proselytize or force truant constituents into the pews. That many appreciate these acknowledgments of the divine in our public institutions does not suggest that those who disagree are compelled to join the expression or approve its content.”

The court concluded, “The principal audience for these invocations is not, indeed, the public but lawmakers themselves, who may find that a moment of prayer or quiet reflection sets the mind to a higher purpose and thereby eases the task of governing.”

Early in my career I had the privilege of working on legislation to reinstate prayer in public schools. Our argument was simple: Prayer, in any public setting, is an acknowledgement of a higher authority and this acknowledgement is essential to freedom. In fact, this acknowledgment has a very secular justification for public prayer.

Opponents of public prayer are concerned with any gesture that suggests a preference for one religion over another religion. Indeed, many opponents of public prayer, especially atheists, cringe at the idea of any acknowledgement that, to them, seems irrational. But, irrational or not, recognition of a higher authority in government has its virtue. It regularly reminds legislators – hopefully even humbles legislators – that the exercise of their political power has limits.

Opponents of public prayer also claim that such religious expressions are divisive. But any divisiveness exists from opponents only. They choose to be offended and freedom will not long endure if a choice to be offended is the governing doctrine in a free society.

The new progressive religion worships idealistic harmony and seeks to enforce its sensitivities very insensitively upon anyone who disagrees with them. Conservatives believe in “live and let live.” The new progressive religion does not. The court is right to defend a rational basis in public prayer.

For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

Receive the Mero Moment each week directly to your iTunes by clicking here.

Receive the Mero Moment each week directly to your iTunes by clicking here. – See more at: http://sutherlandinstitute.org/news/#sthash.U4TrwSKm.dpuf
This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations. – See more at: http://sutherlandinstitute.org/news/#sthash.U4TrwSKm.dpuf
This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations. – See more at: http://sutherlandinstitute.org/news/#sthash.U4TrwSKm.dpuf
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On Point video: views from Utah women in politics, 5/9/14

Holly Richardson, political blogger, and Aimee Newton, Salt Lake County Councilwoman.

Holly Richardson, political blogger, and Aimee Newton, Salt Lake County Council member.

Watch as our panelists for this episode discuss Utah politics, divisions within conservatism, Benghazi, and the choices that women in politics must make.

On the show this week: Aimee Newton, Salt Lake County Council member; Holly Richardson, “Holly on the Hill” political blog; Kim Coleman, Republican nominee, Utah House district 42; Utah Republican Party secretary Michelle Mumford.

You can watch the half-hour On Point videos here on Sutherland’s YouTube channel.

Use this link to subscribe to the On Point podcast on iTunes.

Or use this link to subscribe to the RSS feed.

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Economic forecast: optimism or doom and gloom?

Reymerswaele_Two_tax_collectorsThe federal Commerce Department announced recently that growth of the U.S. economy was “near zero,” as reported by some media outlets. Growth was estimated at 0.1 percent, a pitiful rate that comes after several years of sluggish economic recovery from the most recent recession.

As reported, the reasons given for the stagnant economy include “an unusually cold and disruptive winter, coupled with tumbling exports.” Yet some economists remain optimistic that this year “will be the year the recovery from the Great Recession finally achieves the robust growth that’s needed to accelerate hiring and reduce still-high unemployment.”

In this context, scholarly economist John H. Makin at the American Enterprise Institute published an article titled “The limp recovery, five years on” that seeks to explain the current “feeble expansion” and project its prospects for growth in the next year. His prognostications are decidedly less optimistic than those reported in various news outlets.

Makin (see his bio and impressive credentials here) reports that the current recovery “has been considerably below average when compared to post-World War II recoveries.” Only in two quarters has growth been above average since June 2009. He gives several reasons for this.

One is weak growth in business investment due to investor uncertainty, driven by the financial crisis and massing changes in federal regulation from the Obama administration, weak growth in consumer demand, and slowing levels of inflation. A second reason is the slow growth of household spending, which is attributed in part to the fact that “it has required seven full years for households to regain levels of net worth last seen in 2007,” leaving households cautious about spending money.

Subsequently, according to Makin, “the recent expansion has been characterized by especially weak growth of employment and persistence of high unemployment, notwithstanding some progress over the past year.” This problem has been compounded by the fact that “labor-saving technologies [have reduced] the need for labor in the production process,” such as “the ability to use smartphones and tablets to manage communication and scheduling without a human assistant.” Interestingly, Mr. Makin ties this to income inequality: “[T]he result has been a shift in income distribution away from labor and toward capital during much of this expansion.”

Makin predicts a gloomy outlook for the economy over the next year, but concludes with a prescription. “Something additional is needed to sustain a stronger recovery in the United States – leadership.” That leadership includes pushing to reform federal welfare, taxes and regulations (such as those created under the auspices of Obamacare) to make work more financially rewarding for employees and creating new jobs less costly for employers. It also includes reforming things like the education system in ways that make it more possible, and I might add more affordable, for individuals to climb the economic ladder.

Makin’s article is a good one for anyone interested in the economy and where it is likely headed in the near future. For my part, I wonder whether the Obama administration has the maturity and statesmanship to support reforms that amount to a tacit admission that its policies have been economically harmful to individuals, families, and businesses. But there’s always hope.

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Read with caution: Why ‘The Law’ lacks context for today’s readers

Frédéric Bastiat

Frédéric Bastiat

I read The Law by Frédéric Bastiat in 1977, when I was 19 years old and attending a small college in North Texas. The Law, along with other writings on liberty, had a profound effect on my intellectual development.

Sutherland Institute has distributed dozens of copies of The Law over the years to introduce responsible citizens to ideas on liberty. In fact, for several years The Law has been one of three books we provide inner-circle donors to get their minds focused on freedom (the other two books are The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek and Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt).

But last year I took The Law out of the Sutherland collection and replaced it with Freedom and Virtue: The Conservative/Libertarian Debate by George Carey. Frankly, I came to feel we had been doing more harm than good by sharing The Law in this manner.

I’ll explain.

Demographically speaking, Millennials tends to be increasingly progressive in their politics. Many gravitate to the progressive left (i.e., liberals) but many also lean toward the progressive right (i.e., libertarians). Surveys tell us that Millennials in Utah, including those among the predominant Mormon population, tend to focus more on individual liberties and less on the common good. That focus is more on “choice” among consenting adults and less on the full constellation of rights and responsibilities that are part of authentic freedom.

I feel The Law, appropriate for 1850 when it was written and even 100 years later, now simply fuels the modern appetite for selfish individualism and justifies selfishness as doctrine. As conservative icon Russell Kirk once quipped, “We flawed human creatures are sufficiently selfish already without being exhorted to pursue selfishness on principle.”

This isn’t to say that The Law isn’t valuable as political philosophy. But 2014 is not 1850 or even 1950 in terms of understanding and rationally applying ideas of individual liberty. Ideas stated rudimentarily, but refreshingly, even radically, in 1850, seem incomplete and immature today. Continue reading

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To understand YWCA’s report on Utah women, read it backward – Mero Moment, 5/6/14

This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

Friends YoungThe Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) was established in the United States just prior to the Civil War and just around the time that Utah’s pioneers settled these valleys – and at a time when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, altering the family unit forever.

America needed the YWCA in 1858. The Industrial Revolution, as much as any other historic influence, challenged traditional family structures. Factory life urbanized the nation and encouraged women out of the home. Men, women and children spent their days apart and evenings exhausted, recovering from being apart. Women were spread thin – physically, emotionally and economically.

The YWCA stepped in to help women. Its community centers became safe refuges and its programs educated women to assume leadership in a rapidly changing world. But then something changed for the YWCA. It went from a charitable refuge to a politicized advocacy group. It went from doing everything it could to keep families together to advocating for women’s rights that often subordinate family and the common good.

Its modern mission statement sounds like any other liberal group: “The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.” Today, the YWCA specifically emphasizes better lives “for all women” (progressive code for feminism) and proudly admits that “…we have changed as women have changed, as the needs of our families have changed, and as our world has changed.”

So it’s unsurprising to read a new study promoted by the YWCA about the plight of women in Utah. The “Well-Being of Women in Utah” report is the statistics of feminism and, like every other left-leaning analysis about anything, the report focuses on what’s wrong with Utah and not what is exceptionally right. For the uninitiated, you correctly read a progressive study in reverse – from the recommendations backward – to understand what is really being said.

In this case, the YWCA’s “Well-Being of Women in Utah” report recommends that Utah public policy “ensure access to quality and affordable health care,” strengthen efforts to prevent “violence against women,” “increase supports” for higher education, give women preferential treatment to close the “gender wage gap,” increase “work-family supports” for single moms and “women of color,” and, of course, support Utah organizations that “provide networking and training” for women in politics.

It’s easy to breakdown these politicized studies. For progressives, the height of human dignity is found independent of faith, family and community experiences. Women only have dignity outside of the confines of faith and family. That’s a progressive credo. The truth is that authentic dignity for men, women and children – everyone – only exists inside the constructs of faith and family and every constructively binding human institution.

Men, women and children across the board are better off in Utah than in most places. Utah is exceptional for women, and the women for whom it’s not currently exceptional can find refuge in the original charitable purposes of the YWCA, not its currently politicized mission.

For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

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Sutherland applauds Supreme Court decision on town-meeting prayer

800px-United_states_supreme_court_buildingSutherland Institute believes the United States Supreme Court made the correct decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway. In ruling that government should not become “supervisors and censors of religious speech” when it comes to prayer offered at the start of a legislative meeting, the court both rightly affirmed past Supreme Court precedent and bolstered protections for religious freedom and freedom of speech.

The court wisely rejected the feigned tolerance so prevalent in politics today – claiming “tolerance” on the one hand while striving to silence dissenting views on the other. Instead, the court stated that such prayers represent “the idea that people of many faiths may be united in a community of tolerance.”

In doing so the court embraced an authentically tolerant perspective: one in which members of society seek for ways to maintain civil and healthy relationships despite publicly expressing and maintaining fundamentally opposed views, and while defending each other’s right to hold and express those views.

The court also recognized the reality that ceremonial prayer and the laws that allow them were not established to “exclude or coerce nonbelievers.” They are natural community expressions of faith that provide “civic recognition” to the benefits of religion in society by “acknowledge[ing] religious leaders and the institutions they represent.”

We hope this ruling will encourage Utahns and their elected officials to genuinely tolerate opposing political and philosophical views and engage them in candid debate and dialogue, rather than seek to marginalize, delegitimize and silence them.

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Utah’s ‘inner rings’: the healthy and the sinister – Mero Moment, 4/29/14

This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_Self-Portrait_in_a_Circle_of_Friends_from_MantuaDuring the Memorial Lecture at King’s College in 1944, famed Christian apologist C.S. Lewis delivered remarks titled “The Inner Ring.” His purpose was to share with those college students a psychological force in their lives even greater than sexual desire. C.S. Lewis described the “inner ring” as the desire to be on the inside of whatever social or economic group provides us with status, prestige or wealth.

Lewis remarked that these “inner rings” are quite natural and many are personally useful and socially constructive. Think of people of faith. Here in Utah many Latter-day Saints make sacred covenants placing them within an “inner ring” of their faith community. College students join fraternities and sororities. Country clubs are a type of “inner ring.” So too are sports teams and high school clubs. Even in our close circle of friends there are certain friends who we count on and trust. These are our “inner rings.”

The fact is that human beings have a natural attraction to associate in groups like families and friends. Nobody wants to be an “outsider” when it comes to the things we love most. Even in politics, insider relationships are what matter most if influence is to be found.

But as Lewis warns, not all “inner rings” are useful and constructive. Some are nefarious, even evil. In the world of politics, we call these sinister groups by many names. We hear tales of evil doings inside America’s greatest philanthropic foundations and among the nation’s wealthiest people – and, to a certain degree, everyone buys into the idea that evils are perpetrated every day to benefit a few wealthy individuals. The progressive left now calls them the “1 percent.”

The most predominant and unhealthy “inner rings” in Utah are what I refer to as “cronyism.” There are certain businessmen in Utah who feel as if they are the adults in the room, our caretakers who know what is best for the rest of us and why Utah needs to be more enlightened and progressive. They know what “real” cities look like and how enlightened people are supposed to think. They envision Utah for everyone else while they live how they want regardless of the common good.

While Utah is filled with many wonderful people who use their wealth to serve those in need and relieve suffering, cronies of the “inner ring” use legal plunder, through the force of government, to get gain and become wealthy through government positions, contracts and taxpayer-financed business schemes that primarily benefit them and their friends.

They thrive on political power and only scandal reveals their circles. And when they’re out of power they do everything they can to get it back. I have spent my career fighting against these cronies and, fortunately, many good and decent people have formed their own circles of influence to promote the common good. But these two worlds do collide and when they do it’s sometimes hard to tell the wheat from the chaff. After all, the insiders need to look distinguished and sound respectable to get gain. Ronald Reagan warned us about people who say, “I’m from the government; I’m here to help.” You might also keep your eye on Utah businessmen and their cronies who require tax dollars to do their business.

For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

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Video: Senators Cruz, Lee speak at Sutherland dinner

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas urged a defense of “the tradition of sacrifice and religious freedom that our country was built on” as he spoke last week at Sutherland Institute’s 2014 Annual Dinner at The Grand America Hotel.

In a concise speech laced with humor, Senator Cruz praised religious freedom and the rule of law. “Religious liberty should not be treated like a redheaded stepchild, as a less valuable right than the rest of the Bill of Rights.”

He took President Obama to task for setting aside various parts of Obamacare by fiat despite the fact that Congress had passed the health care law.

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks April 25 at Sutherland dinner in Salt Lake City.

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks April 25 at Sutherland dinner in Salt Lake City.

Senator Cruz compared today’s climate to that of the late 1970s – economic malaise, ineffective foreign policy, high spending and taxes: “If there’s one person on the Earth glad of the job Barack Obama’s doing, it’s Jimmy Carter.”

Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who introduced his colleague, spoke about the meaning of freedom, emphasizing that free markets and strong institutions of civil society create opportunities for upward economic mobility.

“We have an understanding in our country that freedom ultimately does not mean ‘you’re all on your own.’ Freedom, properly understood, means ‘we’re all in this together.’”

Click here to watch Senator Cruz’s speech.

Click here for Senator Lee’s speech.

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Could blended learning fend off tuition increases?

graduationA recent Deseret News story reported that the Utah Board of Regents approved a statewide college tuition hike of four percent for the 2014-2015 school year, with increases up to 5.5 or 6 percent at the University of Utah, Utah State University, and Snow College. This was reported to be the “smallest tuition increase in more than a decade” and was celebrated by higher education officials, in large part because it represented larger increases in taxpayer funding for Utah’s colleges and universities than have typically occurred in recent years.

If you really want to, I guess you can spin as a good thing the fact that Utah college students will “only” be paying $378, $290, and $208 more per year to attend University of Utah, USU, and SUU, respectively. But in the end, they’re still paying more money for the same college education they could have gotten for less the year before, and I’m not sure that is something to tout.

Iis it really worth celebrating that we chose to increase the financial pain of paying for a college education for students, while simultaneously choosing to increase the financial pain on taxpayers more than normal? Especially when tuition and fees in Utah’s public four-year colleges and universities has gone up by 46 percent in less than 10 years (between 2004-05 and 2013-14) – after adjusting for inflation.

That sounds like pretty institutionalized, inside-the-box thinking – which perhaps we ought to expect from institutions of higher education. But it seems that a genuine accomplishment truly worthy of celebration would be figuring out to decrease tuition and lower the funding required from taxpayers for higher education, by using the ingenuity and innovative thinking that should typify higher learning.

Enter digital learning.

A recent study published by the National Bureau of Education Research randomly assigned (the “gold standard” method in social science research) 725 subjects to either a traditional introductory economics class, with two in-class lectures of 75 minutes each, or a “hybrid format,” with only one in-class lecture of 75 minutes. Importantly, the two college professors that taught the courses each taught a traditional and a hybrid section, with identical curriculum materials available to students across formats. Continue reading

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Dueling perspectives on the minimum legal drinking age

alcohol babyHere’s the opinion-based conjecture perspective (provided by Camille Paglia and Time):

A drinking age of 21 is responsible for …

  1. Making the U.S. like Third World countries
  2. The global drug trade
  3. Cruelty to young people
  4. College binge drinking
  5. Date rape
  6. Drug use among teenagers and homosexual men
  7. Unexplained suicides and massacres
  8. Prescription drug abuse
  9. The social disconnect of youth
  10. Hardcore sexting
  11. The collapse of “arts and letters”
  12. Tyrannical and dictatorial repression of civil liberties

Here’s the research-based fact perspective (provided by Duke University economist Philip J. Cook):

A drinking age of 21 is likely responsible for …

  1. Lowering rates of traffic accidents
  2. Reducing traffic deaths among teenagers and young adults
  3. Decreasing STD rates among adolescents
  4. Fewer instances of alcohol abuse by young people
  5. Lowering suicide rates for young men
  6. Improving economic productivity and outcomes due to fewer social problems from alcohol

Just a quick reminder of the need to keep public policy in the proper perspective.

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Sorry, this is not ‘Jim Crow’ – Mero Moment, 4/22/14

This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

JimCrowDrinkingFountainDuring the recent oral arguments before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the marriage laws of Utah and Oklahoma, Judge Jerome Holmes, an African-American, entertained the plaintiffs’ comparison between prohibitions against marriages based on race and prohibitions based on same-sex relationships. Basically, he asked the defendants, “What’s the difference?”

Judge Holmes referred to a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case addressing a Virginia law preventing a black woman and a white man from marrying. The Court overturned the state law and, in the process, described the fundamental right to marry under the law. Plaintiffs challenging Utah’s marriage law argue the same thing. They claim that two men or two women (or any consenting adults) have a fundamental right to marry, and the Loving case is Exhibit A to justify their claim.

Of course, the answer to Judge Holmes’ question and to the plaintiffs’ claim is that the Loving case was about racism, not marriage. Marriage has a specific definition that Loving did not change. Marriage is between a man and a woman. The Loving case was about marriage between a man and a woman. Once the Court conquered racism, it justifiably ruled in favor of the mixed-race couple.

But this whole analogy brings up the real question: Is there a legitimate argument in favor of same-sex marriage by equating racial civil rights and “gay rights”?

From the end of the Civil War until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, black Americans were subject to degrading and unjust “Jim Crow” laws that treated them as “separate but equal.” Here are some examples of how black Americans were treated under “Jim Crow” laws:

  • White female nurses were not allowed to treat black men
  • Bus stations were required to have separate waiting areas for whites and blacks
  • Railroad passenger cars were segregated
  • Restaurants had to have separate dining areas and entrances for whites and blacks
  • Cohabitation between the races was prohibited
  • Black children were separated from white children in public schools
  • Black and white public school children couldn’t even share the same textbooks – a textbook used first by a black child was forever to be used by black children
  • Public parks were segregated
  • Mixed housing was a crime
  • Not only were lunch counters segregated, so too were telephone booths Continue reading
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Elder Oaks urges mutual understanding on religious freedom issues

Elder Dallin H. Oaks speaks at Harvard Law School in 2010.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks speaks at Harvard Law School in 2010.

I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
That we’re done and we might as well be dead,
But I’m only a cockeyed optimist
And I can’t get it into my head

Elder Dallin H. Oaks quoted these lyrics from South Pacific last week in a speech at Utah Valley University, explaining that he is “optimistic in the long run” despite the current threats to religious freedom from our courts and popular culture.

Elder Oaks, a lawyer who served as a Utah Supreme Court justice before becoming a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, said,

In this country we have a history of tolerant diversity — not perfect but mostly effective at allowing persons with competing visions to live together in peace. We all want to live together in happiness and harmony. We all want effective ways to resolve differences without anger or contention and with mutual understanding and accommodation.

There are points of disagreement between those who insist on free exercise of religion and those who feel threatened by it. Similar disagreements exist between those who insist on nondiscrimination and those who feel that some of its results threaten their religious liberty. There are no winners in such disagreements. Whatever the outcome in one particular case, other disagreements persist, and we are all losers from the atmosphere of anger and contention. In this circumstance of contending religious rights and civil rights, all parties need to learn to live together in a community of goodwill, patience, and understanding. …

Continue reading

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Bundy family: Right issue, wrong argument – Mero Moment, 4/15/14

Sutherland is focused on helping western states regain control of their land. Visit EndFedAddiction.org for more information.

Sutherland is focused on helping western states regain control of their land. Visit EndFedAddiction.org for more information.

This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

Cliven Bundy’s family roots in Nevada stretch back to the 1880s but his awkward articulation of constitutional rights and federalism are hurting his case and the broader case for greater self-determination in western lands management. Our western states are severely handicapped by the federal government’s ownership of massive amounts of land. It is true. And it is high time that citizens in these western states do something about it. Unfortunately, Cliven Bundy’s justifications and methods are politically counterproductive and legally, well, wrong.

Our western states have plenty of tragic examples where federal encroachment is destroying economic prosperity and driving generations of families from the lands they’ve called home. Bundy’s mistake is that he’s shifted the focus from that legitimate argument to arcane constitutional polemics that few Americans understand or are comfortable with.

In complaining about the federal government to entertainment conservative Sean Hannity, Mr. Bundy stated, “What they have done is seized Nevada statehood, Nevada law, Clark County public land, [and] access to the land….” To The Guardian newspaper he’s quoted as saying, “We definitely don’t recognize [Bureau of Land Management] jurisdiction or authority….” During an interview on the radio program “The Dana Show,” Mr. Bundy told listeners, “I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”

Well, he’s wrong. And even if he were right, he’d still lose with that argument. Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Podcast | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments