July 27, 2009

Your "strict constructionist" at work

Alex De Grand, at the State Bar of Wisconsin's website, describes the holding in last week's Supreme Court decision, Coulee Catholic Schools v. LIRC:
The court majority explicitly stated its decision stands on independent state grounds, precluding review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Specifically, the justices said that the "Freedom of Conscience Clauses" in Article I, Section 18 of the Wisconsin Constitution "uses the strongest possible language" to protect the right of worship free of state involvement. These protections are even more expansive than those in the First Amendment, the court added.
Never mind the highly questionable proposition that the "right of worship" includes for a judicially created exemption from answering to a lawsuit alleging a discriminatory employment practice expressly prohibited by duly enacted Wisconsin statutes.

What's remarkable here is that the opinion's author, Mike Gableman, repeatedly criticized his political opponent during last year's Supreme Court election for similarly insulating from federal review the court's 2005 decision in State v. Knapp.

I get that conservative Republicans are only devoted to their political principles when in accord with and convenient to their personal views but they could at least pretend and make it a little less obvious.

A post about the case at the Marquette Law School Faculty Blog contains this compellingly supported argument:
As the product of seven years of Catholic primary school, and the son of a longtime Catholic schools teacher, I’m convinced the Court [sic] got this determination right.
How about this one: As the product of eight years of Catholic primary school, four years of Catholic secondary school, and the son of a longtime president of the PTA, I'm convinced the court's decision is a corruption of the controlling principle announced in Rayburn v. Gen. Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, a federal case out of a Virginia court upon which Gableman (ironically) relies heavily.*

Do I win?

* Gableman determined ultimately that merely allowing the plaintiff to proceed with her employment discrimination claim — in spite of her prior successes before several administrative bodies, the circuit court, and the court of appeals — was an "'inroad on religious liberty' ... too substantial to be permissible."

If you can believe that. Gableman never explains how.

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