Battleground state

"Battleground state" Continued...

Francis Manion of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and other advocates of posting the Ten Commandments on public property are not ready to accede to the private-property alternative. Mr. Manion plans to appeal the 6th Circuit's ruling against Ohio Judge James DeWeese. In the DeWeese case, the majority of the judges decided that Mr. DeWeese's intent was religious, despite his assurances and his posting of other documents such as the Bill of Rights alongside the Ten Commandments.

According to Mr. Manion, the appeals court "tried to read the judge's mind, his heart as they put it, and discerned he really had a religious purpose for doing this because he actually believes that the Ten Commandments are the laws of God." One 6th Circuit dissenter, Alice Batchelder, cited in her minority opinion a 1962 Supreme Court ruling that "'many of our legal, political, and personal values derive historically from religious teachings.' It seems to me the majority today does exactly that."

Even when an expert like Mr. Manion offers his services for free, going to court can cost a city, county, or school legal fees anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000: If the local government body loses the case, it has to pay the legal costs of the ACLU or a similar organization.
-Jim Schenke

Unsafe worldview?

Swift Boat veterans are criticizing John Kerry for undermining American prisoners of war during the early 1970s, but California Democrats created their own controversy early in July when they blocked a GOP plan to celebrate Independence Day by honoring Admiral Jeremiah Denton on the chamber floor.

Adm. Denton, a medal-draped Vietnam war hero and former U.S. senator who spent more than seven years as a Vietnam POW, was "too controversial," Assembly Democrats said. So on the day Republicans wanted to honor the admiral, the Assembly instead honored a Los Angeles Times reporter.

But that was before the Democratic National Convention, when the Democratic presidential candidate posted himself at the podium, snapped a salute, and reported for duty as a candidate running on his own record in the Vietnam War. Are California Democrats now looking a little tone deaf?

"Absolutely not," said Nick Velasquez, spokesman for California Assembly speaker Fabian Nunez (D). "The refusal had nothing to do with Adm. Denton's service as a veteran." Mr. Velasquez said Mr. Denton is too "controversial" to be honored by the Assembly because of his views concerning separation of church and state: He wants to restore the "One Nation under God" concept as a fundamental national principle.

Also, Mr. Velasquez said, Adm. Denton while a senator once made what Democrats considered a sexist remark to People magazine. Furthermore, the Boston Globe called Adm. Denton's private foundation "an umbrella organization for fundamentalist Christian groups." (Mr. Denton is Roman Catholic.)

Mr. Velasquez said that Republicans in June had opposed an honoree suggested by the Democrat-led Asian-American caucus. That honoree was Wen Ho Lee, the Chinese-American scientist who pleaded guilty in September 2000 to downloading the equivalent of 400,000 pages in nuclear secrets (70 percent of which are still missing), then using his computer expertise to sweep away his digital tracks. The California Assembly's Asian-American Caucus wanted to honor Mr. Lee for showing "tremendous courage" during his year-long prosecution.

When California state legislator John Campbell publicized the turndown of Mr. Denton, protest e-mails and calls arrived daily by the hundreds. More have come since the Democratic convention, Rep. Campbell told WORLD: "Now people are writing and calling to say thank you for showing us what Democrats do when the cameras aren't rolling, the lights aren't on, and they think people aren't paying attention."

Republicans publicized the contrast: Assembly Democrats were ready to highlight a felon while at the same time disqualifying Adm. Denton, who led American POWs through the now-infamous terrors of enemy prison camps, suffered four years of solitary confinement, and endured a propaganda television interview orchestrated by the North Vietnamese inquisitors. In it he feigned light sensitivity and blinked his eyes in Morse Code, repeatedly spelling out a message: "T-O-R-T-U-R-E."

"I'm not comparing the two individuals," Mr. Velasquez said. "I'm comparing the situations." GOP Assemblyman Ray Haynes called either comparison "absurd." He said, "Democrats rejected a certified war hero. We rejected a convicted felon. I sort of think that says it all."
-Lynn Vincent


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