Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yes, EEOC, There is a Ministerial Exception

The Supreme Court has just issued its opinion in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC. In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court reversed the 6th Circuit and held that Cheryl Perich, a "called" teacher at the Hosanna-Tabor school, was a "minister" and thus her suit was barred under the so-called "ministerial exception" (which generally exempts religious organizations from anti-discrimination laws in employment decisions relating to persons who serve in a "ministerial" role). Though the ministerial exception had universal acceptance amongst the lower courts, this actually marked the first time the Supreme Court had officially ratified its existence.

The opinion itself (written by Chief Justice Roberts) is extremely, almost comically, narrow, refusing to go much beyond a determination that Ms. Perich was a "minister" for purpose of the exception, and thus that her suit was barred. It didn't give much, if any, of a standard for how to determine if a given person counts as a minister, and even was cagey over which sorts of suits are barred by the exception. Justice Thomas' concurrence was a little more concrete, saying that courts should simply defer to a religious body's good-faith determination regarding who was playing a ministerial role, and Justice Alito (joined by Justice Kagan) cautioned against relying too heavily on whether a person went through any formal ordination process (as many religions do not have such procedures).

Faithful readers may remember I gave a brief talk on this case as part of a panel at the law school. I am pleased to report that, like any self-respecting constitutional law professor, my prediction (an affirmance on narrow grounds) was completely off the mark.

Speaking of Traitors ....

The scandal over right-wing involvement in the "price tag" attack on an IDF base continues grow. First it was a National Union MK who said "If a person who transfers information about IDF movements is a spy, then I am a spy" (and hey, no argument from me). Now we get this charming profile of the IDF soldier who leaked much of the information (he's since been arrested), a paratrooper who likes to post about "killing" and "burning" all the leftists and Arabs in Israel. He has a propensity to refer to them as "traitors" and bemoan their presence in the IDF, which if you ask me is a bit rich coming from someone who apparently gave out confidential information to a paramilitary group which used it to attack Israel.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Stirring Tribute

There is something profoundly depressing about this:
The ANC [African National Congress -- South Africa's main political party and anti-apartheid organization] Youth League wishes to send its heartfelt condolences on the passing away of the Great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il. As we remember this revolutionary we call upon the Korean people to forge ahead with the struggle to reunify their country, to free it completely of a legacy of Colonialism left to its people by imperialists represented by the United States of America.

May the undying spirit of Comrade Kim Jong Il continue to inspire the Korean people to defend the Songhun, the idea that it is possible for the people of Korea, Asia and the world to live well alongside each other in an egalitarian society, free from poverty, joblessness, hatred of each other and the oppression of one country by another.

In commemorating this Great Leader we sent warnings to traitors of the people, led by Lee Myung Bak, who deliberately sunk his Cheonoan war ship and blamed it on the government of the Democratic People’s republic of Korea, to desist from an unsustainable offensive against the North of Korea and the Korean peninsula in general. His continued assault on the image of the DPRK in collaboration with the United States will not continue unabated. In this regard we support the just cause of the Korean people to defend themselves, using whatever means at their disposal, to continue struggling for a just and equal world order and to defeat Capitalism in all its facets.

In technology to save our climate you also excelled, as we saw the successful introduction of an air steriliser, to curb emission and related hazards from the climate, and this shows the effectiveness of the Korean nuclear technology, and this equally shames the Western and Imperialist Propaganda, that the DPRK nuclear programme is aimed at creating war in the world. “Korea is right, do not retreat”.

We say to all the Korean people fighting for peace and justice, Victory is Certain. Amandla, Awethu!!

All Power to the People

It's not as if members of the tripartite alliance haven't flirted with radical reactionary extremism before, but still, demoralizing.

Monday, January 09, 2012

You've Got a Deal

A second Israeli MK has admitted to divulging troop movement information to right-wing extremists who used the knowledge to disrupt IDF activities.
National Union MK Uri Ariel confessed last week to giving Israeli settlers information on the Israel Defense Forces' movements, even before it was discovered Sunday that Likud MK and coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin divulged similar information.

Ariel, during a Knesset committee meeting last Thursday, said that numerous times he had transferred information to settlers on IDF movements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"If a person who transfers information about IDF movements is a spy, then I am a spy," Ariel said during a discussion on law enforcement in the settlements. "If others were arrested, I should be arrested as well.

Sure, I'll take you up on that. Someone who gives information about his own government's troop movements to paramilitary group that is trying to disrupt those movements seems pretty spy- (and traitor-)like to me.

Notice a Trend?

The closest thing Israel has to a major fascist party is Yisrael Beiteinu.* Using "fascist" to describe YB isn't just my schtick -- it was applied by none other than Martin Peretz, who certainly is not unsympathetic to right-wing Israeli outlooks generally. YB is strong amongst Russian immigrants, and essentially wants to bring Putin-style "democracy" to the Jewish state -- that is to say, it wants to wreck Israeli democracy. And while Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is perhaps YB's most prominent member, nobody exemplifies its "values" better than MK Anastassia Michaeli.

A former "Miss St. Petersburg", Michaeli converted to Judaism upon marrying her husband and made aliyah to Israel in 1997. While she was listed on the Kadima slate in 2006, she did not earn a seat in the Knesset; however, after jumping ship to Yisrael Beiteinu in 2009, she was given their 9th slot and entered the Israeli parliament.

Since then, she has "distinguished" herself by informing the entire Israeli populace that they needed a lesson in "patriotism" that only she and her Russian colleagues could provide, by virtue of the infamous "NGO probe" bill. And just the other day, she tossed a cup of water at an Israeli-Arab MK during an argument about an Arab principal who had taken her students to a human rights rally in Tel Aviv (like any good Putin acolyte, Michaeli declared this "marching against the state"). This isn't even the first time that Michaeli has physically assaulted an Israeli-Arab MK -- last June she was reprimanded for trying to physically remove a colleague from the Knesset floor as the latter attempt to speak about the Gaza flotilla raid.

I mean, violent fascist racism -- it's the Yisrael Beiteinu trifecta. What could be more "patriotic" than that?

* A few minor parties -- most notably National Union -- manage to stray even further into extremism, and effectively are the official representatives of anti-Israel "price tag" terrorists.

UPDATE: Michaeli has been suspended from the Knesset for one month -- an extremely harsh sanction (normally, suspensions last only a day or two).

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Vegas Highlights and Lowlights

We're leaving Vegas tomorrow, thus bringing the traveling part of my Winter Break (i.e., basically all of it) to a close.


* Being nice and disciplined in video poker by staying with a pair of jacks instead of pursuing a flush draw, and being rewarded with a four-of-a-kind.

* Jill accidentally pressing "bet max" on video poker, then flopping a full house.

* Cirque du Soleil "O" being as awesome as I remembered (if not more).

* Penn and Teller being funny and mesmerizing.

* Food. All of it, but particularly the Asian restaurant we went to for lunch in the Venetian.


* After playing disciplined video poker for the first day, getting cocky and deciding to play "bet max" while simultaneously playing far more recklessly, and giving back all my winnings and then some in the space of a half-hour.

* Still having a cold throughout the trip.

* Getting a great point spread on the Lions and still not seeing them beat it (sorry dad).

* Placing dad's bet in craps and watching it all be lost on the first roll (sorry again).