The Sunday Question: Any Problems Here?

This week, on The Sunday Question, you have an assignment:

1. Read this article. It discusses an interesting proposal for the voters in Mississippi.

2. Discuss [1].

25 thoughts on “The Sunday Question: Any Problems Here?

  1. Michael Rodgers December 14, 2014 / 5:18 am

    Requiring the recitation of the state pledge and the playing of Dixie is silly and bossy, and so is messing with university policy. As for the rest, Mississippi should return to using the Magnolia flag as the state flag. Flying the Confederate flag at the state capitol is OK if the display is clearly historic and memorial, like Alabama’s display, not confusingly sovereign or whoknowswhat, like South Carolina’s display.

    Mississippi’s Magnolia and South Carolina’s Palmetto are strong state flags that are not in any need of supplement. Mississippians can all proudly rally around the Magnolia flag just as South Carolinians all proudly rally around the Palmetto flag.

    • Michael Rodgers December 14, 2014 / 6:16 am

      Here’s a Christmastime picture of South Carolina’s display of the Confederate flag. The flag is behind and disconnected from the Confederate Soldier Monument. The flag has its own separate fence and lighting, with a patch of grass between it and the monument. The Christmas tree is right up against the Confederate Soldier Monument. The soldier is standing guard in case anyone tries to take the presents. He has his back to the flag.

  2. Stefan Jovanovich December 14, 2014 / 7:23 am

    It would be more useful to discuss the text of the initiative itself; the journalism is deliberately misleading. The authors of Initiative 46 were not so foolish as to “recognize Christianity as the state’s official religion”. Section (I) of the Initiative reads as follows: “The State of Mississippi hereby acknowledges the fact of her identity as a principally Christian and quintessentially Southern state, in terms of the majority of her population, character, culture, history, and heritage, from 1817 to the present; accordingly, the Holy Bible is acknowledged as a foremost source of her founding principles, inspiration, and virtues; and, accordingly, prayer is acknowledged as a respected, meaningful, and valuable custom of her citizens. The acknowledgments hereby secured shall not be construed to transgress either the national or the state Constitution’s Bill of Rights.”

    There is nothing in the text of the Federal Constitution that prohibits the voters of Mississippi from amending its Constitution to incorporate these and the other provisions of the proposed Amendment. That, of course, is no guarantee that members of the Federal judiciary and the Congress will not continue to ignore the restrictions on their judicial authority contained in Article III with the same self-righteousness that allowed the members of the Convention in Jackson in January 1861 to ignore the plain language of Article I.

    http://magnoliaheritage.com/46.html

    http://docsouth.unc.edu/imls/missconv/missconv.html

    • Joshism December 14, 2014 / 6:53 pm

      “The State of Mississippi hereby acknowledges the fact of her identity as a principally Christian and quintessentially Southern state…”

      No argument here.

      “…accordingly, the Holy Bible is acknowledged as a foremost source of her founding principles, inspiration, and virtues…”

      Problem here. While this could be construed as acknowledging a historical fact i.e. our state’s founders in 1817 were predominately Christians (we’ll refrain from debating hypocrisy regarding slavery since those for and against both found ways to use the Bible to justify their side; they defined themselves as Christians), it can also be construed to mean that since the Bible is a founding principle of Mississippi then the Bible – and therefore Christianity – are favored over other religious texts and religions. Which would violate the separation of church and state. (Caveat: I do not myself an expert constitutional law.)

      “…accordingly, prayer is acknowledged as a respected, meaningful, and valuable custom of her citizens.”

      No argument here.

      The larger problem I have with Initiative 46: it would be hard to convince me that anyone putting forth something like this does not have a biased agenda.

    • John Foskett December 15, 2014 / 3:14 pm

      As a judicial scholar, I’m sure you have some graphic examples of those Article III violations to which you refer. Fire away and educate. Of course, I’m certain that these examples of illegal judicial “activism” will cover all ends of the political and philosophical spectrum.

      • Stefan Jovanovich December 15, 2014 / 7:08 pm

        Hi, John. I am anything but a judicial scholar; I doubt I could be one, given the fact that for the last 3/4th of a century, at least, the American law schools have done their best to pretend that cases can, under the Constitution, take precedence over statutes and the Constitution itself. Under Article III the Supreme Court and such subordinate (“inferior”) courts as Congress may ordain and establish have the authority to exercise “the judicial power”, not the legislative or executive. That meant and still should mean that judges have the authority to resolve the disputes within their jurisdiction (those outlined in Section 2) according to the laws that Congress and (except for veto overrides) the President have enacted. The “judicial power” did not mean that judges themselves could, by their decisions, create the law. Justice Story had no authority to designate people of a particular race to be inherently subject to bondage and permanent servitude; the power to make such a designation is not granted to the Congress in the Constitution. The Supreme Court in 1954 did have the authority to abolish racial segregation in public expenditure; the 14th Amendment had made such practices unlawful nearly a century earlier. But, in Brown, the Supreme Court did not have the authority to discover a right to education in the Constitution; the words are simply not there. In making the comment about the voters of Mississippi’s authority to enact the text of the initiative into law, I was expressing my hope that a revival of the plain meaning of the 10th Amendment will allow our system to recover the balance between state and Federal sovereignty. The authors of the Constitution were aware that legislatures, executives and judges would all reach for greater and greater authority; they assumed that the contest between the states themselves and with the Federal government would preserve and protect individual liberty because people could, if nothing else, vote with their feat. What they did not anticipate was the extent to which factions would try to grab control of Federal authority and then, through judicial law-finding, make that Federal authority absolutely Supreme. All the best. Stefan

        • Joshism December 15, 2014 / 8:29 pm

          “I was expressing my hope that a revival of the plain meaning of the 10th Amendment will allow our system to recover the balance between state and Federal sovereignty.”

          150 years after a Civil War fought in no small part because of certain states’ belief in their precious sovereignty I would like to think that one of these days we will get over the absurd notion of that states should anything more than a trivial amount of sovereignty. The only reason state sovereignty was ever a thing is because the USA was formed from 13 colonies which had operated independently; 33 of the other 37 states (Texas and technically Vermont being independent for awhile, California being kinda independent briefly, and Hawaii originally being an independent kingdom) were never independent nations and therefore have only the sovereignty the Federal government allowed them. We are one nation, indivisible – not an economic union nor a commonwealth of independent nations.

        • John Foskett December 17, 2014 / 1:26 pm

          A couple of points: (1) Brown did not establish a “right to education”. It established that where a state provides a public education (and in fact requires one), it must provide that in a manner which is consistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment – just as it must do so regarding other services and functions which it provides/performs. (2) What say you about the Court’s decision in Citizens United, especially in connection with the First Amendment, the Federalist papers, and “original intent”? Just testing the political parameters of your theory about the courts and Article III. By the way, “American law schools” have imposed nothing over the past quarter century or beyond. Instead, they (properly) communicate what the courts, legislatures, and administrative agencies have done. I know because I got a degree from one and sort of stay in touch as part of my daily work in the courts and elsewhere.

          • Stefan Jovanovich December 17, 2014 / 5:44 pm

            There woud have been no Citizens United decision if Justice Black’s originalism (to which I and the authors and ratifiers of the U.S. Constitution agree) was in place; “no law” means “no law”. I, too, am guilty of having gone to law school and having made money from it; but I try not to let my reading of history become a brief for the judicial notion that stare decisis can substitute for the common consent that is required by the Constitution’s use of the words “law and equity”.

          • John Foskett December 18, 2014 / 11:15 am

            There would have been no Citizens United if the author of the opinion subscribed to professed ideals rather than being a “judicial activist”. See – it works on both sides of the political fence. All that aside, I’m sure you know from your law school education that “law and equity” are hardly scientific, precise terms. In fact, they cry out for interpretation. I’m sure that you also are well aware of the pre-1787 roots of the Anglo-American legal system, of Holmes’ The Common Law, etc., etc. I’ll match my “reading of history” with yours any old time you pick . We can have a party discussing Story, Marshall, the Nine Old Men, Court-packing schemes, why Nino is low down on the list of dinner invites from Justices of otherwise disparate views, etc.

          • Stefan Jovanovich December 18, 2014 / 12:34 pm

            Thx for the invite, John. I am afraid I would not have much to say. Holmes’ book is very, very bad history according to the Brit scholarly community who should know. Law and equity had very precise meanings in 1790; what both denied was the presumption of absolute sovereignty that has become the foundation of our modern jurisprudence. Take comfort in the fact that neither left nor right liked Black’s originalism; the right wanted to ban pornography and the left wanted hate speech outlawed. Neither side was or is comfortable with the 1st Amendment’s absolute limit on the government’s authority.

  3. Andrew Raker December 14, 2014 / 7:40 am

    If passed, this will bring the state into conflict with various groups, but none as powerful as the Southeastern Conference. Their stance on cowbells is clear, and I think they’re more powerful than the state constitution.

    The inclusion of Mississippi State into a campaign that started to bring back Colonel Reb is also telling. It’s as if the drafters had a few meetings where they asked “what do we think people in Mississippi like?”, and threw everything together in a pot, and got this.

    • Ira Berkowitz December 14, 2014 / 5:19 pm

      I had a similar take seeing the English only provision and states rights provisions. Just an odd assortment of various disconnected ideas thrown together in a “greatest hits for the heritage crowd” law. Be interested to see if one concept throws off the others. The general over reach of the thing in various places may be what does it in. Also curious to see if the demographic nature and general cultural sensibility of the state has changed alot in the 11 years since they deal with the state flag. If Mississippi is like a lot of place (e.g. Virginia) things have changed a lot in the last decade.

      • Andy Hall December 16, 2014 / 8:41 am

        Just an odd assortment of various disconnected ideas thrown together in a “greatest hits for the heritage crowd” law.

        Yes. It’s a laundry list of carps for the “we want our country back” folks. I have no doubt they would’ve included literacy tests and poll taxes for voting if they thought they could get away with it.

  4. jarretr December 14, 2014 / 7:55 am

    I don’t suppose that informing these folks about the often strained relationship that many Mississippians had with Confederate policies during the war would change their decisions at all? Perhaps that’s being overly optimistic.

  5. Leo December 14, 2014 / 8:06 am

    Ignore it and don’t give those fools press.

    That stupid thing will never see the ballot box. Arthur Randallson is a well known clown, bigot, and embarrassment to the state of Mississippi.

  6. Leo December 14, 2014 / 9:09 am

    As a Mississippian, I agree with Michael Rogers about adopting the Magnolia Flag. Our current flag does nothing positive for our public image and likely hurts in attracting high paying industry to the state.

    I believe the current flag also marks the first time the CBF was used as a symbol of white power when the conservative democrats took power back after reconstruction. It was their way of letting the radical republicans and freed blacks know who is calling the shots.

    • Lyle Smith December 16, 2014 / 10:32 pm

      Yes, the Confederate battle flag was incorporated into the Mississippi state flag during Jim Crow in 1894. Georgia didn’t incorporate it until 1956 as a counter symbol to civil rights reform. South Carolina didn’t start flying a Confederate battle flag over its statehouse until 1962, also as an anti-civil rights symbol.

      • Lyle Smith December 16, 2014 / 10:34 pm

        1961 should be the date actually.

  7. neukomment December 14, 2014 / 1:05 pm

    If they were actually able to get 107,216 signatures, that would be very sad indeed…

  8. hankc9174 December 14, 2014 / 1:18 pm

    finding 100,000+ Mississippians who can write their name?

    • Leo December 14, 2014 / 9:20 pm

      I hope you noticed all the negative comments in the Clarion Ledger article mentioned in the news story.

      As I’ve said before, the group pushing the amendment tried this nonsence before and failed spectacularly. I can accrue you these fools will fail again.

      Bank on it!

  9. Leo December 14, 2014 / 2:58 pm

    hankc9174, I’m from Mississippi, and I take great offense to your comment. The people pushing this amendment are extremists and do not represent most Mississippians. This is their second attempt at getting something on the ballot, and it will go down in flames just like their first attempt.

    Please don’t paint with such a broad brush. It tends to be messy.

  10. Charles Lovejoy December 15, 2014 / 7:32 pm

    I really wish more people and groups would put their effort in preserving Civil War historic sites and museums. That’s what I consider preserving a heritage, preserving historic sites.

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