BLEEDING HEART LIBERALS
STEELY EYED ARCH-CONSERVATIVES
BY A BACK ROW CATHOLIC
Master Lawyer, Wayne A. Smith, recently commented that, “Media… is addicted to superficial comments and sound bites.” I agree. Avoiding superficiality and sound bites, I have taken some liberty with length of this piece (have you the patience for this???) and launched into something that has captured my attention for my entire career as a Trial Lawyer. Why do we Christian Americans (raised on the same Judeo Christian “belief” system) view the plight of God’s children so differently??? Translated, what accounts for… the great divide between bleeding heart liberal Christians and steely eyed, arch- conservative Christians and what role… does Christianity, itself, play in that divide???
The short answer (obviously oversimplified)… one group became followers of a message and the other leaders of a power structure. The bleeding heart, liberal Christians became followers of the (“do unto others”) message of Christianity, which then guided their philosophy of life, law and politics. The steely eyed, arch-conservative Christians became leaders of a power structure more influenced by organized religion’s historical(“control of the masses”) philosophy… (1) the philosophy they first learned as children when they were taught about the “superiority” of the religious dogma they grew up on and (2) later reinforced, as adults, when they naturally transitioned from the superiority of their religious dogma to the “superiority” of their legal and political dogma e.g. Federalist Society… a legal clique that drafted Trump’s entire short list for the Supreme Court and duplicitous “Activists Judges”… talking“non activism” while showing themselves to be the masters of “Judicial Activism” (covered in detail below) and protectors of the power structure of the “Establishment’s” institutions… Corporate America, Wall Street, Government, the Insurance Industry, at the expense of the “common man” and the “forgotten woman.” (covered in detail below), etc.
The longer answer, and the proofsI have marshaled in support, are covered in this piece… a piece that is conversational in tone, controversial in content and especially relevant today, where yet another steely eyed, arch conservative, Catholic, Brett Kavanaugh (a “master” from America’s elite power structure of life, law and religion) has been appointed to the United States Supreme Court. Stay with me (if you would) as I attempt to shed some light on the actual dynamics that fuel the great American divide between bleeding heart, liberal Christians, on the one side of the divide, and steely eyed, arch conservative Christians, on the other.
THE PARAMETERS… OF LAW AND RELIGION
This great Christian divide represents the endless showdown between (1) the claims of human rights and freedom on the left (given expression in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights) versus(2) the correlating claims of citizens’ duties and control of the masses on the right (given expression in the sound bite, “Law and Order.” (But, ironically, the Bill of Rights was the defining “law and order” document for America’s Founders). The natural tension between human rights and freedom on the one side of the great Christian divide versus citizens’ duties and control of the masses on the other side… is captured by the short, sweet and pointed expression, “Your rights end where my nose begins.”
Despite this truistic cliche about noses, lawyers and politicians are endlessly absorbed with conturing the actual boundary… the boundary where the human rights and freedom of one nose ends and the duty to someone else’s nose begins. This elusive boundary itself (like the ebb and flow of the tides) comes and goes and is redefined over each new generation. For some generations, human rights and freedoms flow generously and outweigh duties and authoritarian control of the masses… while for other generations, the tides return to shore with duties and authoritarian control of the masses dominating again. But the constant??? The “constant” is that the shifting boundary line isfrequently determined by our early, preexisting and un-provable, religious “beliefs.” But, because religious “beliefs” are, obviously,un-provable matters of faith, I have (speaking only for me) spent a lifetime in law purposely shying away those un-provable religious “beliefs” so I could listen to and, hopefully, hear a more plausible, more reliable story… the story of mankind’s incessant drumbeat, the story of history.
Discussions on the general topic of the influence of an un-provable, religious “belief system” on our view of the law are not confronted often enough. It is undeniable that all of us grow up with preexisting religious “beliefs” long before we even discover the existence of a so-called “secular” system of law that, eventually, takes over our lives… (after, as I say, our un-provable, preexisting religious “beliefs” are locked in). In many nations, religion and the law are inseparably one and the same… religion is the law of the land and vice a versa. In other countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, the people have a Constitution, but the Muslim Holy book, the Koran, trumps the Constitution… hence a “theocracy”, not a democracy, even though the people of Iraq and Afghanistan elect their leaders and claim to have constitutional protections. And, then there is America the Beautiful… where we Americans are governed by a “secular” Bible aka the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and where we maintain a robust and secular Democracy by trying (as far as humanely possible) to “separate” Church from State.
In America, there are those who, under the cover of “Separation of Church and State,” run away from any discussion of the inevitable influence of “religious beliefs” on the law. I am a strong believer in Separation of Church and State because I am aware of the great potential for harm and injustice when citizens are punished (or diminished in status) because of an un-provable, religious “belief” system, examples… Jesus crucified because he “believed” he was the “Messiah”, Galileo told to recant his “heretical belief” that the Sun was the center of our universe, or be put to death, witches hung and burned at the stake in Europe and America or, today, ISIS beheading and crucifying others who don’t “believe” as they do. The role of government is to punish prohibited “actions”, not “beliefs.” In America the Beautiful, I can be a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent or even a “Communist” because with the Separation of Church and State… no-one gets punished (or diminished) for “beliefs.” But still, it is undeniable that we Americans also intuitively know that our preexisting and un-provable religious “beliefs” (at a minimum) subconsciously influence our view of what the law is (or what it should be).
Why??? Why, despite Separation of Church and State is there this inseparable influence on all of us and on our laws by the un-provable “beliefs” of our religious background??? Answer… because un-provable, religious “beliefs” are deeply seated and ingrained in our psyche (or, perhaps, even in our DNA) from the very first time we hear the story of Creation, the story of Adam and Eve (tempted out of the Garden of Eden by the serpent) or the story of Cain and Abel or the mixed story of Santa and the Christmas day birth in a manger in Bethlehem. Despite the Separation of Church and State, these early formed, deep seated, psychologically ingrained, yet un-provable, religious “beliefs” subconsciously color (at a minimum), or permeate (at a maximum) our “subjective” thinking on what the law actually is (or should be) in any given situation. That’s precisely why, when discussing what the law is (or should be), I try to turn away and discount un-provable stories and the un-provable “belief” system of the Old and New Testaments… opting, instead, for what the history of mankind tells us. For a great overview of what history tells us, see the multi-set Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant (starting withOur Oriental Heritage, The Life of Greece, Caesar and Christ… all the way up to The Age of Voltaire and Rousseau and Revolution… the sole inheritance from my 9th. grade educated father), and, especially, see the Durants’ 102 page follow-up… The Lessons of History(1968).
Recently, I received an email from a very bright (and somewhat conservative) Jewish lawyer friend of mine, talking about the state of the law and referring to the “Man walking in sandals” and (as he said) the man “preaching goodness.” My friend, of course, was speaking of the man from 2000 years ago… the historical man walking in dusty sandals through Galilee, through Nazareth, through Jerusalem and along the River Jordan. Although I am a back-row Catholic (at best), still the historical “Man walking in sandals” has shaped my philosophy of… life, law, human rights, dignity and social justice.
And, at this moment in America’s history, a conversation about the influence of religious “beliefs” and their influence on our view of the law may be especially appropriate, now that we will, soon enough, have a five man, arch conservative Catholic majority on the U. S. Supreme Court (Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Kavanaugh… replacing a Catholic swingman, Kennedy, and former Catholic (?) Gorsuch… replacing the very Catholic, Scalia) versus a liberal minority of three Jewish Justices (Ginsberg, Breyer and Kagan) and a Catholic (Sotomayor). And, for those who say “religion” doesn’t matter, I say it is no more possible to erase the early influence of religious “beliefs” from your psyche (or from the psyche of our Supreme Court) than it is to tell a Jury in Murfreesboro, Tennessee to disregard the smell of southern fried chicken passing through an open window into their Jury room at dinner time. In fact, discussing the role that our un-provable, religious “beliefs”may have on our liberal or conservative views… may be exactly what is needed at this precise moment in American history to insure that we are all on guard against the conscious or subconscious power that those un-provable, religious “beliefs” might have on our view of what the law is (or should be).
HISTORICAL PROFILE OF THE… “MAN WALKING IN SANDALS”
Sticking with my life long theme of preferring the historical record over an un-provable “belief” system of religion, let me give one historical account that seems to establish who that man from Galilee, the “Man walking in sandals,” was, during his brief time on this earth.
(1) The “Man walking in sandals” was a revolutionary man who turned everyone’s head away from the “strict interpretation” of Jewish law and saved the adulteress from a capital punishment stoning with those poignant and unforgettable words… “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
(2) The “Man walking in sandals” was a healing man who dared put his hands on lepers… an act forbidden by strict interpretation of Jewish law.
(3) The “Man walking in sandals” was a generous man who multiplied the fishes and loaves for the masses to eat… without moralizing with a sermon about “teaching a man to fish.”
(4) The “Man walking in sandals” was a compassionate man who knew of the hardships of Jewish life (high mortality rates at birth, economic depression, hunger, short life expectancies, unfair taxation and crushing subjugation) under Roman occupation and under the heel of the Jewish religious leaders who curried favor with Rome by harshly controlling Jewish life… just to hold onto their patronage from Rome.
(5) The “Man walking in sandals” was a temperate man who said that the “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” rule of Jewish law must be rewritten to better accommodate “proportionality” and “non violence” (Sermon on the Mount).
(6) The “Man walking in sandals” was an embracing man who spoke and lived the Golden Rule… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto to you.” (Ditto for Rabbi Hillel).
(7) The “Man walking in sandals” was a supportive man who gave “hope” to poor, overwrought and fragile souls… “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” “Blessed are the poor…” (Sermon on the Mount).
(8) The “Man walking in sandals” was a forgiving man who urged others to forgive trespasses and love enemies.
(9) The “Man walking in sandals” was the parable man who said, “When I was hungry, you gave me to eat, thirsty, you gave me to drink, and when I was imprisoned as an outcast, you visited me.” When the friends of the “Man walking in sandals” incredulously asked, “When did that ever happen”???… the “Man walking in sandals” followed up with that 2,000 year-old message of inclusion… “Whatever you do for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do for me.”
(10) The “Man walking in sandals” was a social agitator who threw the money changers out of the Temple… as he challenged the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his time. While the bleeding heart liberals would have been “side by side” in the Temple with the “Man walking in sandals,” the steely eyed, arch conservatives would have shouted out for the authorities… “Call the Cops.”
(11) The “Man walking in sandals” was a quick witted man who deflected a trap for the unwary when he uttered those famous words… “Render to Caesar that which is Caesars and to God that which is Gods.”
(12) The “Man walking in sandals” was a bold and courageous man who held a mirror up to both the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders of his time, reflecting their harsh image of authoritative “control” by organized religion and subjugation by Roman occupation. In today’s parlance, Romans were the world “colonizers” of their time and a bellicose example for the British to brag about… “The sun never sets on English soil.” Right… a great ”Christian” nation that conquered and then, authoritatively, held poor and down trodden souls at heel in their own land. Or, how about the American “colonizers” and their grand trade with the Native Americans. The Red Man got the Bible and the White Man got half of the North America continent… and throw in a few beads to seal the deal. Maybe that’s where Trump learned The Art of the Deal, or is it The Art of the Steal ???
(13) The “Man walking in sandals” was a non-violent, pacifist of a man who never went about the countryside armed, never a warrior, never had an Army and never ran for or held a political office… just a “Man walking in sandals” who was a free-thinking freelancer… kind of like a Trial Lawyer of today, but without the dossier of law school.
(14) The “Man walking in sandals” was a long-suffering, betrayed man who, for all his goodness as a Champion of Justice, was betrayed and then punished by the “all-controlling,” religious arch conservatives of his time (with the complicity of the powerful, “all-controlling” Roman Empire) with the “Man walking in sandals” being nailed to the cross with nine inch spikes driven through his fragile feet and hands and then hoisted up on the “Hill of Skulls” and forced to endure the agony of the slow suffocating death of crucifixion… one of the most diabolical inventions of torture ever known to mankind, an authoritative invention of highest cruelty that would brook no dissent from any dissenting “belief” system nor from any riff raff “Man walking in sandals.”
This historical “Man walking in sandals” showed himself to be a lifelong, bleeding heart liberal… and, for those influenced by the non-provable “belief” that he died for our sins, it is impossible to come to any other conclusion other than… the “Man walking in sandals” is a bleeding heart liberal. Finally, even if, arguably, the “historical” “Man walking in sandals” is not 100% historical, the long lasting record we have of him still informs my philosophy of life, law, human rights, dignity and social Justice… because… well, because the claimed history we do have of the “Man walking in sandals” truly reflects a snapshot of the “Humanity of Mankind” at its finest hour.
FOLLOWERS OF THE “MAN WALKING IN SANDALS”
Over the course of my lifetime, I have encountered many spiritual mentors who lived their lives as reflections of the historical, multidimensional and revolutionary “Man walking in sandals.” Those spiritual mentors include Rabbi Hillel (the man who told the Gentile that the entire lesson of the Torah was, “That which you don’t want done to you, don’t do to others”… with the rest of the Torah “mere commentary.”), Mahatma Gandhi (paradigm of non violence), Martin Luther King (more non violence) and Detroit Capuchin priest, Father Solanus Casey (the Irish “Porter of St. Bonaventure) who ran the Capuchin “Soup Kitchen” on Mt. Elliot on the East side of Detroit and who ministered to the endless parade of broken bodies and spirits who came calling at any hour, day or night, with their troubles on their sleeves, their pain furrowed in their brows and their suffering palpably visible on their fragile souls… including my own dear mother and father who once shared their fragile-ness with Solanus Casey, as the good father himself suffered mightily with a toothache… barley able to speak. The present-day Capuchins, following the path of the compassionate “Man walking in Sandals,” still run the Soup Kitchen on Mt. Elliot in Detroit, feeding and administering to the overwhelming spiritual needs of Detroit’s poor and the down trodden… all of us awaiting the day of Sainthood for our dear Irish monk and friend, Father Solanus Casey.
There are many other bleeding heart liberals during my lifetime who also followed the less-walked path of the “Man walking in sandals”… others who nurtured my philosophy of life, law, human rights, dignity and social Justice, including U. S. Supreme Court Justices, Frank Murphy of Detroit (1894-1949) and the “Great Liberal,” Justice William J. Brennan Jr (1906–1984), and the brilliant and articulate Michigan Supreme Court Justice, Michael F. Cavanagh, a U. of D. High School kid who spent 32 years on the Michigan Supreme Court writing vigorous dissents against the steely eyed, arch conservative, Federalist’s Justices appointed by John Engler (former Governor and present Michigan State University/Dr. Larry Nassar lightning rod). And, there is a lasting impact on my human conscience and social consciousness by many other bleeding heart liberals, Detroit priests, Father Clement Kern and Russ Kohler of Holy Trinity parish in Corktown, who spent their lives fighting for the working man and woman… and for the Unions that represent them. Ditto for Father Livius Poali, a simple but brilliant man of God… my first football and baseball coach at St. Scholastica. Ditto for the Basilian priests at Catholic Central (Fathers Clemens, Elmer, Huber, French, Kehoe, Barnes, Hathaway, Hogan, Brown, Paramo, etc) and ditto for the Jesuit priests at the University of Detroit (especially Fathers Steiner, Heutter, Cavanaugh, Justin Kelly and Law School layman, Dean Philip Colista). Ditto, for the stout hearted women like Cathrine McCauley (1778-1841), the founder of the Sisters of Mercy (all girls, Mercy High School in Farmington Hills) and Dorothy Day (1897-1980) of the Catholic Worker… journalist, convert and social activist (“Our rule is works of Mercy”). Ditto for Trappist monk and prolific writer, Thomas Merton (1915-1968… Seven Story Mountain) and many, many others whose names I do not record here.
Ditto for my “Great Depression” era, Greatest Generation parents (8th. and 9th. grade educations)… as I witnessed, first hand, the never-ending struggle of their lives, playing out amongst our outmatched, overwhelmed and depressed household of six misfits and other vagabonds we took in… all of us controlled by the “Establishment” Institutions of Corporate America, Wall Street, Government, the Cops, the Insurance Industry and others. Ditto for all the nuns, priests, rabbis and social philosophers who taught me “to whom much is given, much is expected.” For a description of the long lasting, insidious and cumulative effect of steely eyed, arch conservatism on the American Dream, see chapter XX (America Now) of my third book,The Fightin’ Irish of Detroit and Chapter 17 (The Great Depression of 2008… America’s Ruling Class and Trial Lawyers) of my first book Children of the Greatest Generation.
All these larger than life spiritual giants I have acknowledged above, taught me the value a professional education and how to stand up for the poor and down trodden and the underdogs of life… those not intellectually, physically or emotionally capable of making a go at it in the cut throat, “survival of the fittest”, laissez faire world of Capitalism. Or, as the prolific writer of History, Will Durant (1885-1981) points out in his book The Lessons of History… we are no tall born equal with the same gifts of evolutionary inheritance, and, hence, the never ending concentration of wealth in the few followed by the inevitable (peaceful or violent) redistribution of wealth… quote “We [Will and Arial Durant] conclude that the concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peaceful, partial re-distribution. In this view, all economic history is the slow heartbeat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of concentrating wealth and compulsive recirculation”. end quote (Lessons of History page 57).
Or, as the “Man walking in sandals” would say about redistribution of wealth… “When I was hungry, you gave me to eat, thirsty, to drink….” And, please save me from that arch conservative “distinction without a difference” as right wing apologists look into a crystal ball and tell the rest of us that the “Man walking in sandals” was only talking to private enterprise about taking up the slack for the hungry and thirsty, not government. Really??? Then, maybe what the “Man walking in sandals” should have said was… “If you starve to death or die of thirst because private enterprise turns their back on you… so be it.“
And what do these bleeding heart liberal role models of mine have in common and what do they look to for their human conscience and social consciousness??? They look to the historical “Man walking in sandals” that my Jewish, lawyer friend so aptly described. That’s the man who refused to let the religious leaders of his time “control” the narrative by exalting the “formalities” and “rituals” of religious control over the “substance” of the “message” of fairness, human rights, dignity and social Justice… a message of human rights and social Justice that the “Man walking in sandals” so diligently proclaimed and lived throughout his brief life here on this earth, in this harsh vale of tears.
THE JOURNEY… FOR A BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL
The path that unfolded in my early life was clear, precise and uncomplicated in its ignorance. I was wild eyed, arch conservative Archie Bunker from Northwest Detroit championing Capitol Punishment and All American heterosexually. My philosophy was rudimentary. If I called you a son of a bitch, I wasn’t using profanity; I was simply referring to the circumstances of your birth (Huey Long). If we threw down in the classroom or in the streets and I broke your nose (or, God forbid, vice a versa), we ran from the cops, lickety split and off to our next destination. But somewhere along the way, “opportunity” and “education” got in the way… the “opportunity” of a free education for playing football in college (which I would have done for free, anyway) and the “opportunity” to go to Law School on an academic scholarship… thanks to the compassion of the Jesuit priests and Dean Philip Colista. Without those two opportunities, there would have been no college education and no Law School… period!!! I was the fortunate one.… the privileged white kid, the kid who was given all the opportunities of education, buttressed by emotion support, enduring patience, forgiveness and second chances galore. I was the serendipitous kid who was handed a free education that allowed me to pursue a dream of being a Trial Lawyer so I could be a voice for those who have no voice… like my own beloved family who were told by the “Establishment” to take a seat on the sidelines of life, stay out of the way and shut the f_ _ _ up.
Because I was a “privileged” white boy, I wasn’t going follow my beloved, Depression Era, 9th. grade educated father into the “bookie” business. Because I was a “privileged” white boy, I was not going to fight my way into prison and fight for the Heavyweight Championship of Jackson Prison, like me 9th grade educated brother Marty did. Because I was a “privileged” white boy, I was able to fulfill my dream and become a Trial Lawyer and work the circuit in criminal law, personal injury law, domestic and commercial litigation… for 47 years. As I worked that circuit, I began to see the forlorn masses of America’s rejected and “unprivileged,” “dead end” kids, raised in the hopelessness of poverty and a “no way out” “ignorance”… black, brown and white, little sweet, innocent children of God who I would later meet down the road of life at the Wayne County Jail because… well… because their “luck of the draw” birth was not privileged with the same “opportunities” of life that mine was.
As, my father was won’t to say, “I would rather be lucky than smart”… and “lucky” I was, as I walked away from an overwhelming background of dysfunction, depression and humble circumstances… only because my parents, the Dominican nuns at St. Scholastics, the Basilian priests at Catholic Central, the Jesuits at the University of Detroit and all the other mentors I previously mentioned… overlooked my rough edges and leaned down and pulled me up when I couldn’t do it on my own. Think about what I just said. Without those loving, patient, kind and forgiving mentors, there is no me… at least no Trial Lawyer me. And, for every false narrative you give me about someone raised in poverty, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, I will show you the unmarked graves of tens of thousands who cry out silently from their final resting place… “I never had a chance; I never was invited into the game; I never got up to bat.” Poverty is the mother of failure. Perhaps, we add on a modern day Ninth Beatitude…Blessed are those who had no struggle in their early years, yet empathize with those who did (e.g. the Kennedy clan).
As I matured in life and law, I could see how my status as the serendipitous, white kid of “privilege” and “opportunity” contrasted with those so much less fortunate than me. I saw all around me the less fortunate… in the jails, in the holding pens, in the Courts, in the prisons, in the mental wards, in the morgues and in the funeral homes. The conclusion was inescapable. I was the lucky kid able to fulfill my dreams because… well, only because of the bleeding heart liberals following the path of the “Man walking in sandals” all went out of their way to teach me “Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge” and support me financially and emotionally… when God knows, I needed a ton of support. My mission, my duty, therefore, is (in the fashion of the bleeding heart liberals who have helped me over a lifetime) to pay it forward and help others. I can’t look away. I can’t duck. I can’t wall my self up in my sumptuous estate and ignore the cries of suffering humanity and the broken riff raff who approach my door, rattle my sensibilities and indulge my patience and my pocketbook. My history has made me who I am… a bleeding heart liberal in the fashion of the “Man walking in sandals. “I plead guilty, your Honor. “Okay, Bailiff… take Downtown Freddie from Detroit, away and call the next case”!!!
THE JOURNEY… FOR A STEELY EYED ARCH CONSERVATIVE
The path of those I grew up with… those who would later become steely eyed, arch conservatives, took a very different turn, than mine. Miles away, philosophically, on the other side of the great social Justice divide, but only a few feet away physically from my “back row Catholic” church pew were my steely eyed, arch conservatives Catholic compatriots (and those of other Christian denominations) who always seem to be vigilantly on guard and raising the bar that “controls” the rest of us. For those arch conservatives, the first order of business, the first order of religion, the first order of law and the first order of Government is the authoritative “controlling the masses”… control the poor, the middle class, the downtrodden and the riff raff of America in order to ensure that their is no social outcry to contend with and little (or no) interference with the laissez faire, “survival of the fittest,” economic engines of America’s self-serving “wealth creators”… the “Establishment” institutions of Corporate America, Wall Street, Government, the Insurance Industry, etc.
But, the story of the self-serving “wealth creators” strikes a false chord with me. Their story resembles a fast moving, carnival, shell-game (“now you see it, now you don’t). Despite the slick economic theory of “trickle down” promoted by steely eyed, arch conservatives to justify their “preference” for the rich… the reality is different. The reality??? The actual economic engine of America is not driven solely by the “Establishment’s” institutions of Corporate America, Wall Street, Government, the Insurance Industry, etc. The actual economic engine of America is driven by the middle class job creators… those who spend their middle class wages on goods, product and services, thereby stimulating the American economy and create jobs in the process. Case in point. The 7/16/18 Detroit News reports that Ford Motor sold almost 900 million, F Series pick up trucks in the year 2017…grossing almost 42 Billion dollars (on only a single line of F series pickups). That 42 Billion is more then Coca Cola grossed in 2017, more than Face Book grossed in 2017 or Nike grossed in 2017. As I say the “job creators” in America… the ones who drive America’s economic engine are the middle class purchasers of product that keep America rolling.
The slick salesmanship of the steely eyed, arch-conservatives now unmasked, leaves but a single conclusion. The arch-conservatives (for the most part) favor the ”Establishment” institutions of Corporate America, Wall Street, Government, the Insurance Industry (and others). Why??? Short answer…self promotion. The longer answer… The steely eyed, arch conservatives want to establish themselves as “Compatriots in Capitalism” with those “Establishment” institution, “wealth creators” by building and nurturing relationships among the rich and famous in order to parlay those relationships into a huge chunk of the American Dream… much like newly nominated, Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh did growing up in highly affluent Bethesda Maryland (the only child of two lawyers… his father a lobbyist and his mother a former Prosecutor and then Judge), boarding at the very prestigious and expensive, Jesuit Catholic high school, Georgetown Preparatory (at the same time Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch also attended). After graduation from Georgetown Prep, Brett followed up with an Ivy League education at Yale undergrad and Yale Law School and then off to the Belt Way in Washington D.C. as part of President George W. Bush’s entourage and then onto the staff of Special Prosecutor Ken Starr, before Bush appointed Brett to the Federal bench… obviously, a very bright guy (certainly brighter than me), but just as obviously hearing a different message of Jesuit Catholicism that I did. I am left to wonder…???
Hey Brett, did you ever come down the social latter, assume the role of assigned counsel, roll up your selves and represent one of life’s down and outs while standing before a Jury of someone’s peers, with life, liberty and pursuit of happiness on the line, all for a pittance… as I and many other bleeding heart liberal, Trial Lawyers have done, decade after decade???
Hey, Brett, did you ever entertain the presence of Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mocking Bird… by Harper Lee and starring Gregory Peck)…even in your imagination??? Hey, Brett, did you ever entertain the presence of Paul Biegler (Anatomy of a Murder… by Robert Traver aka John Voekler, Michigan Supreme Court Justice, and starring James Stewart)…even in your imagination??? If not, Brett, your “credibility” with the “Man walking in sandals” could be open to question. Obviously, Brett is an educated thoroughbred, but he never really ran the good race or fought the good fight. He’s like a parish priest who gets appointed a Cardinal without ever hearing a confession of a single hapless soul. The man is not qualified for the job. He doesn’t have the experience of “humanity.”
Unlike Brett Kavanaugh, the religious folk heroes of my background were (just like the “Man walking in sandals”) human rights and social activists who never failed to roll up their sleeves and get down in the trenches and shower the masses with compassion, kindness, forgiveness… while fighting heroic battles on their behalf, battles for greater economic equality and a fairer disposition of the fruits of the American Dream. These folk heroes who informed and guided my philosophy of life and law were, like the “Man walking in sandals”… not afraid to throw down a “revolutionary challenge” and “cross swords” with those blue blood, arch conservatives who always sought to conserve the status quo that kept labor, the poor, the middle class, the downtrodden and other like riff raff in their place.
Paradoxically (“seeming contradiction”), these arch conservative, “true believers“of faith came from the very same religious background that bleeding heart liberals like me came from. We all attended the same Catholic schools, knelt beside each other for first communion, read out of the same catechism and heard the same story of the “Man walking in sandals.” But, as I have grown with age and with 47 years of experience as a Trial Lawyer representing the downtrodden, the poor, the middle class, the “common man,” the “forgotten woman” and the general riff raff of life, I finally begin to see a pronounced difference between them and me. The steely eyed, arch-conservatives, coming from the very same background of Catholicism as I did, came away with a much different message of Christianity than me. I came away with the social justice, human rights “message” of the revolutionary “Man walking in sandals.” They came away with the authoritative structure of a “belief system” they learned as kids that was put in place to control the masses. And, those steely eyed arch-conservatives, in a natural, authoritative progression, segued from a religious “belief system” that controlled the masses to a secular system of law that they seamlessly used to continue their control of the masses. This arch conservative control of the masses is carried out by a special group of arch conservative self proclaimed, “Federalist” Judges (their own private clique) wholly committed to “Judicial Activism” to get the preordain result they want… all the while, fraudulently masquerading as“non activist“ Judges. A strong criticism??? No doubt.But allow me to back that criticism up witha few examples.
“JUDICIAL ACTIVISM” FOR SELF PROCLAIMED “NON ACTIVIST” JUDGES
(1) First, there is Professor Kimble’s fine article,The Ideology of Textualism (Michigan Lawyers Weekly…8/21/17) that shows that the blue blood, arch conservative Judges’ interpretation of Michigan law under the guise of “textualism” (… “just following the plain meaning of the words, counselor”) coincidentally (just “coincidentally,” mind you) always wins the day for Corporate America, Government and the Insurance Industry… more then 96% of the time, 78 out of 81 cases. This skewed Justice favoring Corporate America, Government and the Insurance Industry also shows the hypocrisy of self proclaimed “non activists” Judges who, in reality, are arch conservative “Judicial Activists” who shape the law to get the “subjective” result they were looking for, all along. As the great philosopher, Goethe, would say… those Judges found the subjective result were looking for to begin with… even before they researched the law or wrote their arch conservative opinions. Then, those self proclaimed non-activist” Judges invariably hit the campaign trail where they become masters of hypocrisy as they hang the label “Judicial activists” on the liberal opponents running against them. Man, you have to ask yourself… whose side would these authoritarian, arch conservatives Judges have been on if they were walking the earth at the same time that the “Man in sandals” was walking the earth???
(2) See also the very insightful, well written article by Sarah K. Delaney, Albany Law School, Class of 2004, Stare decisis v. the “new authority”: the Michigan’s Supreme Court’s practice of overruling precedent, 1998–2002. In Appendix 1, Ms. Delaney lists 26 cases “overturning precedent analyzed: 1998-2002”…26 cases decided and written by arch conservative, self proclaimed “non activist” Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court (Engler appointees) that overruled prior Michigan law in just a short five year period (1998-2002) i.e. 26 cases that threw prior established Michigan law under the bus so the self proclaimed, “non activist,” arch conservatives Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court could (as “Judicial Activists”) rewrite Michigan law to get the result they subjectively wanted all along… the result that favors the “Establishment’s” institutions, Corporate America, Wall Street, Government, Cops and the Insurance Industry. And, the result???… a result that buries the “common man,” the “forgotten woman” and the “Man walking in sandals.” Again, more undeniable proof of “Judicial activism” by arch conservative judges who never miss a chance to attack liberal Judges with the label, “Judicial activists.” Does the political hypocrisy of these arch conservative Judges know no shame???
(3) And, never forget the case of the “blind man” whose very serious personal injury case was thrown out without the Jury even hearing the case because the “blind man” failed to see (you read me correctly)… the blind man failed to see the dangerous, water-filled bathroom floor at Chicken Shack restaurant that seriously injured him. Read Sidorowicz v Chicken Shack (469 Mich 912… 2003)… read and weep. But, the blind man’s case gives a shot in the arm to the cause of the “common man” and the “forgotten woman” because it gives the rest of the world an open window and a clear view into the soullessness of the arch conservative Michigan Supreme Court Justices… the gift from the right that keeps on energizing the left. In one fell swoop, the Michigan Supreme Court arch conservatives laid waste to Constitutional right to Jury trial and hurled a supreme insult at our disabled brothers and sisters blaming them for being blind, and in the process, protected Corporate America. “I see said the blind man who really couldn’t see at all.” Now, that’s something the “Man walking in sandals” would have supported… Right???
(4) And then, it’s off to the U. S. Supreme Court’s recent 5 to 4 decision where the five arch conservative Justices (including four conservative Catholics and one former (?) Catholic, Trump appointee Gorsuch… who attended the prestigious Catholic High School, Georgetown Prep in Washington D.C. with Brett Kavanaugh) played the roll of “Judicial activists” and threw past precedent under the bus to strike a blow against American public employee Union workers. In the Janus v AFSME case (585 U.S. __… 2018), the Court threw out/overruled the 1977 Abood v Detroit Board of Education case (431 U. S. 209… 1977) just so they could put their arch conservative, “Judicial activist” stamp of approval on allowing non union workers to “free load” by not paying any “agency fee” to the union… even though the “free loader,” non-union members just sit back and for free get the same union contract and benefits that the union negotiated for their members. If there is a clearer case of arch conservative “Judicial activism” crushing the workers and their unions, I am not aware of it. Again, the “Man walking in sandals” would have championed this most recent, anti-union, U. S. Supreme Court case… Right???
(5) And, hopefully, no one will ever forget (and I mean ever forget) the gravest of grave injustices created by arch conservative Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court with concurring opinions written by those two Catholic arch conservatives twins, Justice Antonin Scalia and the very reverent, Clarence Thomas. In Thompson v Connick (yes Harry’s father, 563 US 51…2011), some poor innocent guy (John Thompson) was wrongfully convicted of murder and sat on death row awaiting his capitol punishment reward for 14 years… all because the New Orleans P.D. and the New Orleans District Attorney hid evidence of his innocence. When the innocent man finally found out about the intentionally withheld evidence of his innocence, he was found not guilty in a second trial after a 35 minute deliberation. In the wrongful conviction civil case that followed (against the New Orleans P.D. and the District Attorney’s office), the Jury awarded 14 million…one million for each year suffering on Death Row. But, the five arch conservative Catholics on the U. S. Supreme Court threw out the 14 million verdict because, although the evidence innocence was kept from John Thompson by the New Orleans PD, the hiding of evidence was not a systemic problem. WOW!!! How bold??? How ruthless??? From the authoritative control of the masses by a religious “belief system” to control of the masses by a subjective “legal system”… is just a short step and a natural segue for devout Christians who have not a clue about the “message” of the “Man walking in sandals.”
The five points above are enough… more than enough to tell us all what is really going on with authoritative, arch conservative self proclaimed non-activist Judges who are really the poster boys of “Judicial activism.” And, if the five examples above are not enough… then, add in President Trump and U. S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and their complicit followers in ICE who tore the most vulnerable and fragile of brown skinned babies (from “shit hole” countries) away from their mothers, giving those kids a lifetime dose of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And the authoritarian, blue blood, arch conservative response by Trump’s former right hand man, Corey Lewandowski, a mocking “Wah, wah.” Take that… God’s children. What these authoritarian, blue blood, arch conservatives miss about the “message” of the “Man walking in sandals,” they more than make up for in their obsessive compulsive need to use subjective “religious beliefs” and subjective interpretations of law to “control the masses.” As the Irish Catholics in County Mayo would say… “God save us all.”
As I said, I was influenced by the revolutionary “Man walking in sandals” and by his many followers (role models of social Justice, human rights and dignity). But, my arch conservative compatriots were much more influenced by the need for Christianity to control the beliefs, control the message, control the narrative, control the ritual and control the masses of God’s children through a rigid adherence to the authoritative structure of religious “beliefs” and dogma which, later in their lives, found a natural and seamless segue into controlling the masses through “subjective” interpretations of secular law. And, the bottom line… those arch conservative Christians I grew up with, attended parochial schools with, made first communions with and heard homilies and sermons about the “Man walking in sandals” with, as we sat side by side… well… well, they dumped the sandals and walked away from the path the “revolutionary” Man of human rights and social Justice walked… and tightened their steely eyed, arch conservative, authoritative grip on the poor, the downtrodden and on the middle class… and wrote legal opinions that proclaim (when you read between the lines), ”We comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted.”
For my arch conservative Christian compatriots, their view of the world is that the role of Christianity and the role of the Law are fundamentally the same… to “control,” “control,” and “control,” control the poor, control the downtrodden, control the middle class, control the “common man,” control the “forgotten woman,” control America’s riff raff… control the masses. And while my heroes and role models might have a “preference” for the poor, these arch conservatives “control” the rest of us through a “preference” for the rich, including arch conservative politicians and Judges who controlled the rest of us by “preferring” and protecting the social institutions of the America’s “Establishment”… Corporate America, Wall Street, Government, the Insurance Industry… over the human rights and dignity of the “common man” and the “forgotten woman,” as they segue from “control” by religious dogma that they were raised on… to control by legal dogma they later learned.
The big names that I am talking about are all strong, steely eyed, blue blood, right wing, authoritative Catholics… including former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (the darling of the conservative right and a Judge who made a reputation out of a gross oversimplification, the “originalist” theory and a Judge I refused to welcome to the Detroit Mercy Law School when I was President o the Alumni Board). I am also talking about present Catholic Supreme Court Justices, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch and all the Supreme Court candidates on Trump’s “short list” to replace Justice Kennedy before Trump settled on Brett Kavanaugh… a man who (coincidentally, I’m sure) previously informed the rest of us that he does not believe a sitting President should be investigated and charged with a crime while in office (as I say, just “coincidental” to the ongoing Mueller investigation of President Trump). None of the men or women on Trump’s short list could hold a candle to the great Michigan Supreme Court Justice, Michael F. Cavanagh, the “Great Dissenter” or to the great Michigan United States Supreme Court Justice, Frank Murphy (1890-1949… appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt) or to United States Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr (1906-1984), the “The Great Liberal” (appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower)… the man who once gave a talk to my University of Detroit Law School in 1966. For further details on Justice Frank Murphy’s prestigious career, see Chapter XV (Judging the Judges) of my third book, The Fightin’ Irish of Detroit.
My heroes and the mentors in my past always empowered me with a wide-open invitation to exercise my “free will” and rely on the autonomy of my cognitive power and intellect. They had some answers, some direction, some advice, but they left me with the example of their lives and empowered me to figure it out myself… much as all the great religions acknowledge, that all of us must reason ourselves to our own salvation, telling us that we cannot show up to the eternity party and tell St. Peter, “I was just following orders“… anymore than the Defendants at Nuremberg could defend war crimes against humanity with the “just following orders” slogan. My steely eyed, arch conservative, authoritative compatriots have a religious and psychological need for more order, more control and a narrower view of freedom, living in a land where they (I suspect) simply accept without any thought the religious dogma they heard as kids… the same dogma that opened the door to their strict interpretation philosophy of law that enforces rigid order while curtailing freedom… all for the “supposed” betterment of mankind and America’s “Establishment” institutions, Corporate America, Wall Street, Government, the Insurance Industry (and others). That doesn’t make them bad and it doesn’t make me good, but it certainly makes us drastically different bedfellows.
(1) I fail to live up to the example of the “Man walking in sandals” much more than I succeed. I am a role model for no-one.
(2) I have not incorporated the viewpoints of other great religions in this piece because I don’t have the knowledge or experience to do so. But, the words of the Dali Lama in answer to the question of what religion he was… “my religion is kindness”… certainly mirrors the philosophy of the “Man walking in sandals.”
(3) The admonition against commingling of “Church and State” is not violated by my admiration for the bleeding heart liberal “Man walking in sandals”… because this piece is not based on a religious dogma or on an un-provable “belief system.” This piece is based upon an historical figure, the “Man walking in sandals,” and is, therefore, no different than a Judge, a President or a lawmaker calling out the name of America’s Founders (George Washington, Paul Revere, Nathan Hale, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, etc.) to support an interpretation of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitutionor the Bill of Rights. My use of the historical figure, the “Man walking in sandals,” does not violate the separation of “Church and State” doctrine… period. Take that to the bank.
Besides, I am not a governmental agent bound by theBill of Rights…and, if I was a governmental agent (e.g. a Judge), I would be bound by theBill of Rightsand I would have to constrain my view of law with intellectual honesty and be oh so mindful of the “Separation of Church and State” doctrine. But, on the other hand, I am who I am, consciously and subconsciously, and so are the steely eyed, authoritative, arch conservatives who show fealty to the institutional “Establishment” of Corporate America, Wall Street, the Government, the cops, the Insurance Industry, etc. And, if I was a Judge, I guarantee you that I could be much faired to both the bleeding heart liberals and the arch conservatives than the Michigan Judges that Professor Kimble and Sarah K. Delaney have demonstrated are overwhelming “activist Judges” and “town criers” for the “Establishment’s” institutions of Corporate America, Government and the Insurance Industry more than 96% of the time… even if they have to dismantle prior case law precedent in wholesale fashion to do so (because they think they know more than the jurists who proceeded them).
THE DILEMMA OF THE CHRISTIAN ARCH CONSERVATIVES
As you see, thedilemmaof the steely eyed, arch conservative Christians who seek to “conserve” and “preserve” the status quo puts them in an untenable position. Are they really Christians i.e. are they really followers of the “Man walking in sandals”??? or do they just trot some hackneyed religious “belief system” that garners support of the Federalist’s Society as well as the Evangelical Christian base’s “rapture”??? And, additionally, do they really support Democracy and its defining “law and order” document… the Bill of Rights???or do the steely eyed, arch conservative Judges of the Federalist Society just write legal opinion after legal opinion of obtuse legalese telling the rest of us why it’s okay to take away the American right to Trial by Jury, thereby removing “accountability” and giving a free pass to their comrades in arms from Corporate America, Wall Street, the Government and the Insurance Industry ??? See Chapter XX (America Now) of my third book,The Fightin’ Irish of Detroit, Fightin in the Streets… Fightin’ in the Courts for details.
The dilemma the steely eyed, arch-conservatives find themselves in???…
(1) How do you conserve and preserve Christianity when you are holding the human rights philosophies of the “Man walking in sandals”… at heel???
(2) How do you conserve and preserve Democracy when you are holding human rights philosophies of the Founders and their “law and order” document, the Bill of Rights…at heel???
But, arch conservative Christians can persevere with their pursuit of the status quo (contradictory as it may be) by using the precedent of America’s founding hypocrisy (“All men are created equal”… except slaves). In the last analysis, it’s like our first black, United States Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993), said… “Ah, America, the greatest country that never was, but, hopefully, always will be.”
WHAT TABLE DO YOU PREFER???
As a 47 year, career Trial Lawyer, I know when I am on to something and I am definitely on to something. What I am onto??? At a minimum, I am onto the fact that… I choose at place at the table with the revolutionary “Man walking in sandals” and with the revolutionary founders of America so we can talk about the Sermon on the Mount and the Bill of Rights… much more interesting than sitting around with arch conservative, high-brow “true believers” and talking about how to control with religious “beliefs” and “law” so we can keep the masses and the riff raff in their place.
We end where we started. One group became followers of a message and the other leaders of a power structure. The bleeding heart liberal Christians became followers… more influenced by the historical (“do unto others”) message of Christianity, which then guided their philosophy of life, law and politics. The steely eyed, arch conservative Christians became leaders… more influenced by organized religion’s historical (“control of the masses”) philosophy, (1) the philosophy they first learned as children when they were taught about the “superiority” of the religious dogma they grew up on and then (2) later reinforced as adults, when they naturally transitioned from the superiority of the religious dogma to the “superiority” of their of their legal and political dogma e.g. Federalist Society… the legal clique that drafted Trump’s entire short list for the Supreme Court, duplicitous “Activist Judges”… talking non activism while showing themselves to be leaders of “Judicial Activism,” protectors of the power structure of the “Establishment’s” institutions… Corporate America, Wall Street, Government, the Insurance Industry, at the expense of the “common man” and “forgotten woman,” reverent connection to all things “authoritative”… the chain of command, knowing one’s place, whatever place that may be, putting revolutionary thinkers and actors in their place, pomp and circumstance, etc.).
With the understanding that we humans are all flawed, I pose one last question. Which of the two groups, the bleeding heart liberals on the one hand or steely eyed, arch conservatives, on the other… repeat, which of the two groups remind you more of the Jewish religious leaders that the “man walking in sandals” railed against and which remind you more of the historical “Man walking in sandals”???
That’s it. Thanks for staying with me as I tried to think my way through a question that has hounded down the annals of time.