Law and the Created OrderTweet
Posted 5/11/13 at 1:23 AM | Trey Dimsdale, J.D. |
The New Yorker is one of America’s oldest and most venerable magazines with a proud past stretching back to before the Great Depression. In its archives, a reader can find short stories, articles, and cartoons by such icons of American literature as E.B. White, James Thurber, John Updike, and J.D. Salinger. The most recognizable feature of the magazine is arguably its illustrated covers that reflect social issues, popular themes, and prominent people. The edition for the week of May 13, 2013, the week following Mother’s Day, is no exception. The illustration on its cover features three children peering around the corner watching two women standing in a kitchen as they hold what appears to be a homemade Mother’s Day card which they have just discovered. The undeniable purpose of this cover is to present a normalized view of a same sex household: two women and their children celebrating Mother’s Day (or is it Mothers’ Day?) in the same way that any household would celebrate it. FULL POST
Posted 3/29/13 at 1:43 AM | Trey Dimsdale, J.D. |
It is clear to anyone even remotely aware of the debate over the definition of marriage that this is a debate that is infused with religious issues. Proponents of the redefinition of marriage frequently point out that one person’s religion has nothing to do with another person’s rights or they offer an interpretation of religioun (whether Christian or otherwise) that allows, encourages, or at least does not condemn homosexuality. Opponents of the redefinition counter these arguments with appeals to the Bible or religious tradition. Quite frankly, while I am unapologetically a conservative evangelical Christian, I cannot help but wonder if this whole issue might be better resolved in the public square without these explicitly religious arguments. Before I am harpooned in the comments section below, let me explain: the fact that there is so much disagreement on the religious aspects of this issue, it is clear that we are talking past one another and this issue obviously demands a much more immediate public response than is possible if we stop to “define terms” so that we are all discussing the same issues on a level playing field. That being said, the religious arguments are extremely important because they are reflections of core beliefs of almost every religious tradition. One’s view of marriage, gender, sex, and family reflects and impacts one’s understandings of the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of sin, and many other fundamentals of the faith. In the spirit of (mostly) leaving behind religious considerations, I attempt here to articulate a non-religious case for man-woman marriage to the exclusion of same sex marriage. FULL POST
Posted 3/26/13 at 9:25 PM | Trey Dimsdale, J.D. |
While I was a law student, I had the privilege of being a member of my law school’s National Moot Court Team and representing our school in moot court competition. Moot court is not like a mock trial, which is for the hot-headed, emotional, and shallow student (not really). Moot court is appellate advocacy—it is dignified, gentlemanly, and rigorous (all of which trial advocacy can and should be). In the artificially created world of moot court, the trial is over and you are the lawyer for one of the parties on appeal. It is your job to write the legal brief that defends one position or the other and it is your job to stand up and deliver a thirty minute defense of your mock client before a panel of mock judges. Whether it sounds like it or not, the whole process is extremely intense, very stressful, and more fun than nearly anything else that I can imagine.
In moot court cases, there are always two issues. One is a substantive issue known as “the merits.” This is usually an exciting issue that has the potential to shift the paradigm of the law. It is the issue that mock political pundits would comment on if they had the chance. The other issue is jurisdictional—the legal question turns on nuanced interpretations of obscure statutes or court decisions that do not quite fit the present circumstances. These issues are not particularly exciting to outside observers and, honestly, when a court disposes of a case on the basis of one of these types of issues in real life, there is usually public outcry about a murderer being released on a “technicality.” To my chagrin, I was pigeon-holed early as a “technicality” advocate. I always was given the jurisdictional, statutory, or otherwise mundane issue to brief and to argue. Ultimately, however, I ended up preferring these types of issues because they were free from emotion and demanded pure “lawyering skills” to advocate effectively. FULL POST
Posted 3/3/13 at 5:22 PM | Trey Dimsdale, J.D. |
As of last week, the “throne of Peter” became vacant with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. In just a handful of days, the College of Cardinals will meet in a closed conclave to elect the next leader of the largest religious organization in the world. Most evangelicals, even those within denominations with some form of hierarchical ecclesiology, fail to grasp the power, importance, and the influence that the Bishop of Rome holds. The Roman Catholic Church grants much more deference to its leader than other denominations in large part to theological commitments that revere the pope as the rightful heir to the authority that Jesus Christ gave to the apostles, specifically to Peter, when He ascended into Heaven. For Catholics, the pope is the premier and supreme representative of Heaven among men and through his God-guided actions, the will of God is manifested in the Roman Catholic Church. FULL POST
Posted 11/26/12 at 7:19 AM | Trey Dimsdale, J.D. |
I am a Christian. I am opposed to redefining marriage to accommodate any marital arrangement other than one man and one woman. I freely admit that my faith informs my position on this issue, but I contend that aside from issues of morality that relate directly to sexual ethics, I am opposed to redefining marriage because it is bad for families, children, and our society. As the family unravels and children are no longer linked to one mom and one dad, our society will only slide deeper and deeper into decline. In fairness, redefining marriage to allow for same-sex marriage is not the primary cause of this unraveling and subsequent decline. The redefinition of marriage as anything other than a lifetime covenant (i.e. the advent of no-fault, easy divorce) dealt the most damaging blow to families, children, and our society. Same-sex marriage is simply the next step.
That having been said, I find it fascinating that the homosexual movement has actually a tactic long used by Christians to evangelize those with other worldviews. They are attempting to proselytize supporters of traditional marriage and convert them to the ranks of homosexual supporters so that they will not end up on "the wrong side of history." A few days ago, a friend emailed me a link to a website that is the result of the efforts of an initiative at Auburn Theological Seminary that provides talking points to homosexuals, lesbians, and “allies” who want to discuss the issue of homosexual marriage with friends and family who self-identify as “Christian” and oppose homosexual marriage and other so-called “gender equalities” on the basis of their faith. The website guides users through a series of questions about the target of their efforts and attempts to predict the objections that a person may have based on denominational affiliation, regional citizenship, and a couple of other factors. Christians have long worked to systematize the beliefs of other faiths in order to understand the objections to Christianity that others are likely to have based on similar factors. Interestingly, this initiative seems to be inspired by Bishop Gene Robinson of the New Hampshire Diocese of the Episcopal Church, with regard to whom I have blogged previously. FULL POST
Posted 11/7/12 at 7:23 PM | Trey Dimsdale, J.D. |
The issues of tax exemption for religious organizations and for the individual tax benefits that come with donations to religious organizations have a complex history. Most European nations have some sort of state supported church, so when the U.S. traces our tradition of treating religious organizations differently, we trace it back to complex circumstances that are often tied to free church vs. state church arguments. We don’t face that problem here in precisely the same way given that the United States does not have a state church, but there is no doubt that we inherited it when we inherited much in our legal and social systems. In order to be valid, every law that is enacted in this country must be enacted by a body with the authority to enact it. Additionally, no matter how attenuated the connection, there must be a “public policy” justification for the law. The just and justifiable law must encourage behavior that is beneficial for society, discourage behavior that is bad for society, or both. A law does not accomplish anything if it does neither. FULL POST
Posted 11/1/12 at 2:45 PM | Trey Dimsdale, J.D. |
In the second Presidential Debate of this election cycle, President Obama was asked, “What has your administration done, or planned to do, to limit the availability of assault weapons?”
The President responded, “We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition of hunting and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they can protect themselves.” This response should be troubling to all Americans whether they are gun owners or not. The response that he gave reveals some fundamental problems with the President’s interpretation of our Constitution, his understanding of the nature of our rights, and his view of the role of government in our lives.
Posted 10/29/12 at 11:46 PM | Trey Dimsdale, J.D. |
On Monday, October 29, a newborn baby boy was discovered abandoned in Corsicana, Texas. He had been stuffed into a bag and left on the door step of a family’s home. Thankfully, news reports confirm that he is doing well, although no details have been released about the chain of events that led to his abandonment. As of the time of this post, his mother has not been located and nothing more about him has been revealed.
There are a few things, however, that we can deduce from this situation. Firstly, whoever his mother is, she chose life instead of abortion. Secondly, we can presume that her circumstances are such that she was desperate and those circumstances drove her to do something rash. Given that we do not know who she is, it is impossible to tell whether this abandonment was planned or if she went into labor, delivered the child, and simply found the first inhabited structure where she could leave him. FULL POST
Posted 10/3/12 at 9:21 PM | Trey Dimsdale, J.D. |
In Philippians, the Apostle Paul warns the church that we are in the midst of a “wicked and perverse generation.” For every generation of the church, this has been true, but in the lifetimes of most in the American churches, we have never seen a culture that is more hostile to Biblical truth. We are being pressured to accept the “inevitability” of the redefinition of marriage that would allow two men or two women to marry. We are being pressured to abandon the defense of the sanctity of life by acquiescing to the legal right for a woman to kill a child in her womb or the legal right for a family to kill a dying relative.
The state has appropriated the church’s obligation to care for the poor and in the process, created entitlement programs that plunder the property of citizens and result in cycles of government dependency and poverty. The wicked and perverse generation of which we are in the midst is killing its children and its elderly, redefining the family, and creating a toxic economic environment that hurts the poor and creates perverse disincentives. FULL POST
Posted 9/12/12 at 1:34 PM | Trey Dimsdale, J.D.
On July 1, a new law went into effect in Mississippi that presents the possibility that there will not be a single abortion clinic in the entire state of Mississippi. The new law requires that abortionists in the state to have hospital privileges and there are several Mississippi politicians who are on the record confirming that at least in part, the motivation for passing this law is the hope that it will force the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic, to close. Mississippi is not alone in using regulation as an indirect tactic to limit the practice of abortion. Mississippi is also not alone in making itself a target of pro-abortion groups and the law in question has already been challenged in the United State District Court and the battle over whether the law will stand is not yet over. Currently, the clinic is still open while the enforcement of the law has been temporarily delayed by a judge to give the clinic time to comply. FULL POST