May 15, 2008

Court Cases

Howard M. Friedman, in his blog Religion Clause, has this summary of today's California Supreme Court decision:

The California Supreme court today in a 4-3 decision ruled that under the California Constitution, same-sex couples have the same right to marry as do opposite-sex couples. In In re Marriage Cases, (CA Sup. Ct., May 15, 2008), the majority emphasized, however that "affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 4.)"


Friedman also reports on a Paratrooper who is entitled to Conscientious Objector status:

In Barnes v. Green, (D AK, May 13, 2008), an Alaska federal magistrate judge concluded that an Army paratrooper's request for conscientious objector status be granted. The court rejected the Army's contention that Michael Barnes was not sincere in his claim that he was a conscientious objector, saying:
Much is made of the fact that Barnes did not attend church services in Iraq. While [this] ... might hold sway if there were other facts showing a sudden and convenient getting of religion, surely the Army agrees that it is not its province to suggest there is a proper way to be a Christian, or for that matter, to lay claim to or practice any other form of religion....The fact that Barnes’ thought processes may not have been "mature" is of no moment. One need not be a St. Augustine or a St. Thomas Aquinas to qualify as CO, indeed conscientious objection has no necessary relation to intellectual sophistication....The evidence is overwhelming that Barnes – a motivated infantryman –is a person who takes his religious beliefs seriously, and there is strong evidence that his decision was motivated by those beliefs.... True, the timing of Barnes’ decision is suspect. But that alone cannot be the basis for denying his application....Instead of remanding the case to the Army's Conscientious Objector Review Board, the court concluded that Barnes' petition for habeas corpus and mandamus should be granted and the Army should be ordered to grant Barnes an honorable discharge. The Army has until tomorrow to appeal the magistrate's findings. Yesterday's
London Guardian reports on the decision.