Antonin Scalia’s Dissent on Obergefell v. Hodges

All three dissenting opinions on Obergefell v. Hodges are thoughtful and well-constructed.  Justice Scalia, however, has a knack for getting to the very heart of the matter.  Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas wrote excellent and, I believe, spot-on dissenting opinions.

But Justice Scalia?  Nailed it. The following is an excerpt from his brilliant dissent:

A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

Judges are selected precisely for their skill as lawyers; whether they reflect the policy views of a particular constituency is not (or should not be) relevant. Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single South-westerner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination.

The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.

But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch. The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003. They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since. They see what lesser legal minds—minds like Thomas Cooley, John Marshall Harlan, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Learned Hand, Louis Brandeis, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Cardozo, Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, Robert Jackson, and Henry Friendly—could not. They are certain that the People ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to bestow on them the power to remove questions from the democratic process when that is called for by their “reasoned judgment.” These Justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry. And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution.

The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. It is one thing for separate concurring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so.

You can read the court majority’s opinion and all three dissenting ones here:


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logo-vatican  After watching Jacquie Baly​ and Mustafa Tameez spar on the topic this morning (curiously without Chris Tritico​’s usual refereeing; didja oversleep, Chris?), I decided to go look at Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, “On Care for our Common Home”. There’s an awful lot in it that’s not going to be reported on by the news media, but is worth at least scanning.

Okay, yeah, it’s really long, and if you’re not Christian, or you’re rabidly anti-Roman Catholic, you might not care. But I’m telling ya’, there are a lot of provocative and counter-cultural (and thus counter-intuitive) statements that deserve at least some reflection.

As for political preferences and forces (related to global warming or not), Francis gores everyone’s ox. For your consideration:

123. The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same “use and throw away” logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary. We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.

Political left or right, I think we all just got skewered. IMO, regardless of where you fall on politics or religion, there’s some good stuff to chew on in this letter.

Posted on by Keith Chuvala | Leave a comment

NoyzToyz Playlist from the USA Going Away Party

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A Few Words on the Word “Propitiation”

A fellow Christian asked me to share some thoughts on this somewhat unusual word.  I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it used outside of a Judeo-Christian context.  Since there are a few other readers of my ramblings here who are not only Christian, but Lutheran (my favorite brand of Christian ;), I wanted to share those thoughts here to allow for comment/critique, etc.   Fire away, friends!

First, please allow me a little editorial license.  Polysyllabic theological terms too often get a bad rap, or at least the people who use them fluently do.  At times Christians object to the use of “technical” theological/ecclesiastical words because they believe that speaking in the formal language of our faith is off-putting, or makes us look arrogant.  This one’s a good example.  “Propitiation” is just so… so… Latin-y. Life isn’t a vocabulary test, after all.  We have to meet people where they are; we have to speak to them in their own language, without regard for how inarticulate we must become to do that.  (Oh, nuts, I just used the word “inarticulate”, durn burn it!)  I mean, real people don’t use words like “propitiation”, right?

I think they should, if they’re Christians.

Words have meaning because they convey ideas, and when we’re at our best, we use words to represent and communicate ideas that are true, and ideas that are truth.  In most every professional field – legal, medical, technological, engineering, etc., etc. – words specific to that field or discipline are taught, drilled, learned, and used because they improve communication.  Such words efficiently convey relevant ideas in a way that those who are engaged in the field will understand with a depth of nuance or significance that those outside that field might not.  We even create a word to describe such words – “jargon!”

I believe that most every Christian at some point confronts the fact that he or she is in fact a theologian, and should act like one.  In this, the most important “field” or “discipline” on Earth, we should not shy away from our peculiar theological words, but should instead teach them, drill them, learn them, use them, embrace them, and speak them into the lives of our children and our fellow Christians.  That doesn’t mean we put ’em on billboards or try to work them into conversations with our next-door neighbor or turn our evangelistic endeavors into a game of Jeopardy.  But we should avail ourselves of the benefits of using them with each other.

Okay, I think I’m done with the editorial (no guarantees…..)

“Propitiation” as used in the New Testament, unused or unpopular as it may be, communicates perhaps the most important and profound truth God has chosen to reveal to us.  It tells us not only that “God loves you,” but I think it also tells us how He expresses, and to a large extent defines, that agape love.

Looking at the ESV and NASB, I find “propitiation” in the following verses:

Romans 3:25: “…whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be      received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his      divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

Hebrews 2:17: “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

1 John 2:2: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

1 John 4:10:  “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

English dictionaries offer us definitions using phrases such as “an atoning sacrifice”, “the act of conciliation”, “appeasement of wrathful gods”, etc.  All of which are pretty good, I think.  The Christian Cyclopedia gives us a more complex – and complete – picture of the word’s background:

The Gk. word (hilasterion) tr. “propitiation” Ro 3:25 is tr. “mercy seat” Heb. 9:5; the Heb. equivalent (kapporeth) Ex 25:17 denotes the cover, or lid, of the ark of the covenant. Once a yr. the high priest sprinkled the blood of sacrifice on this lid to make propitiation for the sins of the people. This was a type of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ.

Inside the Ark was the law, and the mercy seat covered it.  God’s seal was applied to it annually on yom kippur (the day of atonement) by covering it in sacrificial blood, because all sin, which is revealed by that same law, demands a penalty of death, and the spilling of blood is the sign and result of death.

Understanding this, we read the verses above, especially in their context, and see a miracle.  Let’s look at the Romans passage:

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

I like to think that when Paul was writing this, the Holy Spirit saw to it that Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 5:17 were coursing through his brain and heart, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

In our 11:00 Bible Study just a few weeks back we read one of the above verses, and when an uncommon word like “propitiation” comes up in the text, I often pause to ask how folks in the class understand or define the word.  It’s not uncommon for me to then offer some “gently corrective commentary.” On this day, though, one of our members answered that propitiation was “substitution,” and we dug into that just a bit.  I can’t offer any direct quotes, but the gist of it was, as the propitiation for our sins, Jesus’ undeserved death was substituted for our deserved eternal death.  His earned righteousness is substituted for our utter unrighteousness.  By sacrificing Himself in the person of His Son, God satisfied perfectly every requirement and demand He makes on us to have eternal life, not because we are good enough, or because we are the right kind of person, or attend the right church, or because we’ve achieved anything at all, but because this was His plan all along, since before the creation of the world; since before there was even created time to be “before”.

I offered no gentle corrective commentary on that one. ;)

1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love.  Just two verses later he gives us God’s perfect definition of that what means when he writes “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

“Propitiation” is why we can love another.  “Propitiation” is how we can have hope when the world finds or offers none.  “Propitiation” is a true a comprehensive expression of how God loves us, and has demonstrated that love in the world as well as in eternity.

The more fully you understand propitiation, the more fully you understand Justification.

The more fully you understand propitiation, the more fully you understand Sanctification.

The more fully you understand propitiation, the more fully you understand who Jesus is.

The more fully you understand propitiation, the more fully you understand the nature of The Almighty.

Other than that, I don’t really have an opinion. ;)


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Forget the Web Site; let’s 404 the Law!

It is with considerable amusement that many of us in IT and related fields have watched the comedic tragedy of bad planning, testing, and deployment.  It is a Very Bad Thing, a model of how any software project, let alone a government-contracted one, should be run.

Having said that, I fear our focus is on the wrong Very Bad Thing.  Yes, the web site is a Very Bad Thing.  But web sites can be fixed.

The much greater Very Bad Thing is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. PPACA, a.k.a. ACA, a.k.a. “ObamaCare”).  The best part about the web site being inaccessible is that it forestalled and complicated the implementation of the worst law in my memory, and one of the worst Supreme Court decisions since Dred Scott.

Proponents of this law are lying, probably to themselves, definitely to American citizens.  Let’s not be naïve.  The Obama administration isn’t stepping in to this market because of any desire to “fix a broken system,” as some put it.  We had an un-broken system already.  It could be improved, but it was already the best system on Earth in terms of its ability to allow personal choices, produce medical advances, and encourage and reward high quality researchers and practitioners.  PPACA isn’t intended to fix anything; it is a play to take over a significant percentage of the American economy directly by the federal government.

Most disturbing to me is that PPACA puts the IRS in charge of enforcement of health insurance purchases (not health care per se.)  Follow the money!  Under PPACA we are all forced to buy a product.  Some suggest PPACA is no different from automobile liability insurance, and they are completely wrong.  First, auto coverage it is purely optional from a federal perspective.  Not everyone needs to buy it in the first place (ask apartment dwellers in NYC), and second, even if you should buy it but don’t, and then drive uninsured, you will be dealt with in municipal or state civil or criminal court, not by the feds.  PPACA federalizes this aspect of American commerce, and is, I think, the strongest move toward abject socialism this administration has made.  PPACA is not mere legislation or regulation; it is takeover.

As Dave Ramsey says, “…And we all know how good the federal government is at handling money, right?!”  PPACA will make health insurance more expensive for everyone; it has to for the numbers to work.  Those of us who already have insurance will pay more (in fact most of us already are – I want the other half of my Flexible Spending Account back!), and those that didn’t have it will start paying (complete with very high deductibles on the lower-cost options.)  There is no “free” option available to anyone with an earned income.

The worst part of this IRS involvement, though, is that the penalties included in the PPACA will be enforced without the constitutional protections of due process.   As the enforcement arm of PPACA, and the IRS can seize property and garnishee wages without a court order.  This was the tragic failing of the Supreme Court, re-casting the fines and fees in PPACA “taxes”, in order to make the Act constitutional.  Shame on John Roberts!  He should have struck it down for what it was, not amended it via legal opinion (not legislation!) to make it fit.  I wonder if threats were made against his family to get him to write that opinion…?  Cf. Dred Scott.

Shame, too, on the Democratic Party leaders, Representatives, and Senators who forced PPACA through all the way to the President’s desk.  They should all be voted out at the earliest opportunity, and those who didn’t actually read the law, including then-Speaker Pelosi, should be fired immediately for rank incompetence to make law, and for putting the nation’s economy at such great risk because of that incompetence.

And shame on voting Americans who either ignored the facts or are incapable of doing the math, and yet supported this horrible mess in two consecutive elections!

Read the Act; it needs to be repealed, not reformed or “fixed.”  The cancer is in the marrow of this Act.  “Compromise” on any of these points is capitulation to a Very Bad Thing.

Republicans and thinking, voting Americans of all stripes, let’s work towards a “404 – Law Not Found” error!

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Submitting Homework via Email

Submitting Homework via Email

My ITT Email address:

1)    The Subject Line – THIS IS IMPORTANT!

In the subject line, list the course #, your last name, the Unit or Week #, and the work being submitted. If multiple files are being submitted, put each in the subject line.


Subject: PT1420T Smith Unit 1 Assignment 1

Subject: IS4560T Anaya Unit 5 Lab 5.1 Assignment 5.3

Subject: IS3110T Jones Project Part 1


2)    File Name(s) – THIS IS IMPORTANT, TOO!

In order to minimize the chance of me mis-filing or otherwise losing track of your submitted work, each file name should contain your last name, the Unit or Week #, and what is contained in the file. Each item being turned in needs to be in a separate attachment.   DO NOT submit multiple assignments, labs, etc. in a single file.

Name each file submitted using this pattern:

LastName_Unit< #>_<Type><#>.doc (or .xls or .py or….)

Note the use of underscores to separate the elements of the filename.





3)    Submitting scripts, configuration files, programs, etc. (if applicable)

Submitting any kind of source code, configuration files, batch files or other scripts, etc., can be tricky because some Email systems will not allow those types as attachments. In such cases name your file so that the normal filename extension (.bat. .py, .cmd, etc.) is embedded in the filename prefixed by an underscore (e.g. _py instead of .py), and the actual extension is .txt or .dat, as your Email system allows.




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