Monday, July 28, 2008

Judge Bill Graves - Connect the Dots.

In June of this year, Oklahoma City District Judge Bill Graves strongly criticized the Oklahoma Bar Association's attempt to enact the American Bar Association's new Code of Judicial Conduct. His opposition to the proposed changes in the Oklahoma Code of Judicial Conduct was reported in a copyrighted story by the AP (Link HERE) which stated:

District Judge Bill Graves wrote a letter to an Oklahoma Bar Association committee criticizing the suggested changes in the code. These changes are along the lines of wording in the American Bar Association code.

"These policies are not based on laws enacted by Congress or the State Legislature, but on proposals of the liberal, pro-homosexual American Bar Association," Graves said.

He specifically objects to a proposed rule prohibiting judges from holding membership in organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, age, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity or sexual orientation."

Graves said the proposal promotes a "homosexual agenda which is to have homosexuality treated as normal and natural as heterosexuality. These are cultural, moral and political issues that should be reserved to the Legislative branch."

Recently, rumors began circulating that Judge Graves had been removed from his responsibilities as a District Court Judge and assigned to duties normally reserved for unelected Special Judges. Judge Grave's reassignment was reported today in the Daily Oklahoman (link HERE):

More than 2,400 criminal cases in Oklahoma County are about to be reassigned, thanks to a controversial order by the county's presiding judge.

District Judge Vicki Robertson shuffled some judicial assignments in a June 27 order.

The order — which goes into effect Aug. 1 — resulted in District Judge Bill Graves losing his criminal docket and being assigned to probate cases, a chore that had been handled by an appointed special judge.

Graves, who declined to comment on the move, had more than 2,400 cases on his docket in July, according to court records.

Those cases will be reassigned to the other six district judges handling criminal cases, according to Robertson's order.

Robertson said specialty dockets like drug and mental health courts have siphoned enough cases that the county does not need as many criminal judges.

"I just had to redistribute the caseload,” she told The Oklahoman recently.

Decision draws opposition

Robertson said she chose to reassign Graves, who made news recently for decrying the homosexual agenda in proposed rules governing judicial conduct, because he had the least seniority among the judges assigned to criminal cases. Robertson could not be reached for comment Friday, but her order has drawn opposition from all seven judges — including Graves — and the Oklahoma County Criminal Defense Lawyers

When I addressed the Oklahoma Bar Association Bench and Bar Committee on this issue this spring (Link to comments HERE and HERE), I warned them that this type of anti-Christian discrimination would occur as a result of the passage of the proposed rule changes:

I sincerely believe with all my heart, based upon my own personal experience, that that the new proposed code of judicial conduct will be used by some attorneys and organizations to first “shop” sitting judges and then shape judicial elections and thus establish a defacto , as applied, religious test for Oklahoma judges.

The question is straightforward. Will we use the power of the Oklahoma Bar Association to dictate the religious associations (or lack thereof) of the citizens who serve on our benches? I agree with Justice Joseph Story who said, “The rights of conscience are indeed beyond the reach of any human power. They are given by God and cannot be encroached upon by human authority … Our judges did not surrender their citizenship when they took the bench and are entitled to the same rights of conscience, association and free exercise of religion as any other citizen.

Our founding fathers recognized this problem and drafted strong protections into the language of the constitution. Article VI, Para. 3 of the United States Constitution is straightforward: “ … No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. Article 1 § 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution is equally clear: no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
It now appears that even legal opposition to the rule changes through the mandated OBA hearing process may be enough to get a Christian judge reassigned to duties usually reserved for his assistants.

This is truly frightening. Ten years ago when I was in law school, my ethics professor taught that any person who opposed gay rights should not be allowed to serve on the bench. That professor will soon become a part of the Oklahoma Bar Association committee which screens and selects the judicial candidates that you are allowed to vote for. At the time, many of us thought that that particular professor was a hopeless radical. But, given what has happened to Judge Graves, you have to wonder if there will be any way in the future for a practicing Catholic, Evangelical or Orthodox Jew to serve on the bench in Oklahoma.


Blogger Jimmie Dale Martin, Blogmaster said...

The war between truth and liars continues.
Truth will be bruised by win in the end.

3:40 PM  
Blogger JM said...

I respect and appreciate the concern for religious liberty, however, in thinking about this issue I am struck wondering --- how is this different than a judge being a member of an organization that discriminates on the grounds of race or gender?

Maybe a good compromise position would be to exempt religious organizations?

11:50 PM  
Blogger JM said...

I would also add that it is possible for a "practicing Catholic, Evangelical or Orthodox Jew" to support civil rights for homosexuals, even if they might also believe that homosexuality is a sin.

I know many folks who fit into the camp (most are Catholics), who believe that the coercive power of the state should not be used to enforce standards of morality, but rather than Christians are called to preach their beliefs and encourage others to follow them (but not force obedience).

11:55 PM  
Blogger Bill Kumpe said...

A lot of blacks take strong exception to the comparison of so-called "gay rights" to their struggle for civil rights. The black person has no option of getting up in the morning and choosing to appear white and thus avoid the problems related with their "difference" that day. Further, the black person's problems are not related to their behavior but rather to their very existence, two entirely different things. They cannot choose to be anything other than what they are.

Discrimination on the basis of gender is another matter altogether. Our laws and culture make distinctions based upon gender all of the time e.g. female felons go to one prison, men to another. It is virtually impossible not to. The only question is whether the distinction is necessary and just.

The argument that civil law cannot force enforce morality is a sophistry. Civil law always enforces SOMEONE'S concept of morality. The only question is WHOSE MORALITY will you enforce? The only other options would be amorality(a legal system entirely void of morality) or immorality (a legal system opposed to morality). Both results are unthinkable, so, in this case, the argument is really about the courts enforcing a minority view of morality upon the majority of the population.

The doctrine of all of the major Judaeo-Christian religions, Evangelical, Catholic, Mormon and even Orthodox Judaism hold that homosexuality is a grievous sin. These citizens have the same right to present and advance their ideas in the culture and the political system as anyone else. The First Amendment guarantees it. Anti- majoritarian disestablishmentarianism is a twenty dollar word for the desire of a minority to strip the majority of their First Amendment rights and impose their own morality through the courts. Jefferson called it the "tyranny of the oligarchy."

6:57 AM  
Blogger JM said...

>A lot of blacks take strong
>exception to the comparison of >so-called "gay rights" to their >struggle for civil rights. The >black person has no option of >getting up in the morning and >choosing to appear white and thus >avoid the problems related with >their "difference" that day.

Actually many black people do "pass" as white, either because they have a lighter skin tone, or because they conform to the social norms of white culture.

>Further, the black person's >problems are not related to their >behavior but rather to their very >existence, two entirely different >things. They cannot choose to be >anything other than what they are.

Actually I think the opposite is often true. Prejudice against black folks is rooted on behavioral issues. Black young people who dress in ways perceived as "safe" by the white majority culture are reasonably accepted in many circles.

And for LGBT folks, it is often very possible for folks to know that some is gay, even if they aren't behaving in a "gay" way, which would seem to indicate that there are deeper issues of identity here than just mere behavior.

Or let me put it another way. At this point in my life, I am a heterosexual celibate man. Even though I am refraining from sexual relationships right now, I am still a heterosexual, and likely will always be heterosexual.

Behavior doesn't make one straight or gay.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Bill Kumpe said...

RE: "Passing" - there are always exceptions.

RE: "Norms of white culture" - Manners are manners. I don't believe there is or should be a difference. I grew up around poor southern black kids who had very good manners for the most part. We all called people senior to us "sir" and "maam" regardless of our race. We removed our hats going indoors, spoke politely to adults, held doors for ladies, etc. At that time, (the final years of Jim Crowe) black parents took great pride in their children's mannered behavior and went to great lengths to teach and support it. A lot of them were very classy folks, often a lot classier than their poor white neighbors. Don't get me wrong, racial discrimination was morally wrong and Jim Crowe was absolutely evil. But, remembering the values of black families and neighborhoods of fifty years ago, the structure, the pride and the class they had, I have to wonder if we didn't destroy something in the black community better than what we replaced it with.

RE: "Acting gay" - In some rare instances there may be hormonal or mental aberrations which cause inappropriate masculine or feminine attributes or behavior in the opposite sex. But, I still believe that for the most part, "gay behavior" is a choice as is evidenced by so many gays who live straight lives for decades and later "come out" to the shock of everyone around them.

7:19 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home