No Weapon Formed Against Us Shall Prosper


Obviously, I’m off my schedule, today.  Suffice to say, one can’t always be doing.  Sometimes we have to make plans for what we’re going to do.

Still, the headlines roll through, affirming one’s vocation while urging more action.  Today, it’s the Supreme Court bringing the sense that America truly is lost.  There is, of course, the ruling on “disparate impact” related to housing that will aid in the implementation of schemes like RhodeMap RI.  That will be a matter for continuing battle, but it was the ruling on ObamaCare that strikes at the core of our system of government.  I’m of a mind with Justice Scalia:

Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.

Sadly, we must now begin reminding the United States what I have too often found it necessary to remind Rhode Island:  We cannot have a representative democracy if words have no meaning and rules are not followed.  We do not have a legislative process if our elected officials can put together byzantine legislation through “inartful drafting,” which is the term of art the Court’s majority uses by way of explaining why the plain words can’t be treated as if they are plain (see page 14), thereby leaving it to a dictatorial executive leading an unaccountable bureaucracy to actually tell the public what their representatives just did.

Without spending too much time searching for potentially conflicting evidence, I’d say we’re in new territory, here.  The Court acknowledges that “Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through ‘the traditional legislative process.'” It also highlights the “complicated budgetary procedure” used to pass ObamaCare and says the result was that “the Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation.”

But rather than take the opportunity to protect the American people and find that the government must follow the plain language of the law — perhaps as a means of inspiring Congress to get its act together, so to speak — the Court takes the slap-dash-dictatorial process as an excuse to validate the executive’s overreach in applying the law in a different way than it is plainly written (which original meaning, incidentally, the law’s advocates applauded before it proved to be a problem).

SCOTUS isn’t the only marker, though.  We could talk about the bizarre turn of events that saw an urgent push to make the Confederate Flag disappear from the landscape (which is of concern not because of the target, but because of the process).  At another time, I’ll take up the idea that the world needs some sort of global authority, which Pope Francis has made a matter of topical discussion, recently.

The point is that these issues appear to be everywhere, lately.

Rather than run through them all, I’ll close out with a video.  It’s the sermon by Rev. Norvell Goff, the pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which lost nine members when a crazed racist attacked a prayer group.  The full 28 minutes are worth your time, but if your interests are more social and cultural than theological, the first half or so, which is commentary leading up to the sermon, is must watch.

People “expected a riot,” said Rev. Goff, but they “just don’t know us.”  In contrast to the riots and attacks on police officers that have captured so many headlines, recently, the reverend thanked law enforcement.

Moving into his sermon proper, Rev. Goff said, “Because the doors of Mother Emanuel are open on this Sunday, it sends a message to every demon in Hell and on Earth that no weapon formed against us shall prosper.”  He goes on, “Some wanted to divide the races black and white and brown, but no weapon formed against us shall prosper.”

Watching the video, it’s difficult not to expect that most Americans who saw it would think — even if only in passing fancy — that these are the people, that this is the message, that ought to be guiding their country, not the divisive pap of the charlatan currently in residence at the White House, who used the n-word to capture the headlines spinning off the local tragedy for himself.

The soul of America is strong, even if the people who would give it voice are distracted and divided.  No weapon formed against us shall prosper.  That’s from Isaiah chapter 54:

In justice shall you be established,
far from oppression, you shall not fear,
from destruction, it cannot come near.

If there be an attack, it is not my doing;
whoever attacks shall fall before you.

See, I have created the smith
who blows on the burning coals
and forges weapons as his work;
It is I also who have created
the destroyer to work havoc.

Every weapon fashioned against you shall fail;
every tongue that brings you to trial
you shall prove false.

The translation, here, which is that officially approved by the American Catholic bishops, is different from that quoted by Rev. Goff, and I think it illustrates my larger point.  The King James version calls on believers to “condemn” “every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment.”  The New American version promises that we will prove those tongues false when they bring us to trial.

We’re coming to trials aplenty, it’s safe to say, and by our actions, by our honesty, by our integrity, and by grace, we’ll prove the accusations false.  If not to the satisfaction of the men and women granted black robes by Caesar, then to the standards of He who is the final judge of history, and of our stories.

  • Warrington Faust

    Legally speaking, I believe “inartful drafting,” was previously known as “scrivener’s error”. Of course, the latter does indicate error. I suppose “inartful” could best be described as a very artful “means to an end”.

    I am puzzled by the campaign against the Confederate Battle Flag, all pictures of the assailant including a flag show him burning the Stars and Stripes. Consider the Christian martyrs fed to lions, why aren’t we tearing down the Colosseum?

  • Warrington Faust

    My commendations to Rev. Norvell Goff. I can think of little more repulsive than assassinating people engaged in any form of worship which does not involve handling snakes or burning children.

  • Warrington Faust

    I am posting this because it seems of some import given the bad name the
    Confederacy is getting these last few days. The woman is a former GF who came to visit me at an encampment of my unit at Gettysburg. I am not the man in the picture. He is a ‘red leg” portraying Captain Pendleton. Capt. Pendleton was an Episcopal priest who named the guns in his battery Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The important thing is that, as the picture shows, he is not attempting to whip her and she is not throwing the coffee in his face. She was graciously accepted by all members of the unit, although some went overboard explaining that the war was not about slavery. The cigar was hand rolled on the thighs of a virgin.

    • Warrington Faust

      Picture didn’t come out. Oh well.


    • ShannonEntropy

      Your Heavenly Reward is hereby revised, Warrington

      Instead of 72 virgins, you get one 72 yr old virgin

  • ShannonEntropy

    Neither Roberts nor Kennedy are the “strict constructionists” that the dissenting three are

    But the idea that the plain language of the Law could be so mis-construed should come as no surprise. Title VII of The Civil Rights Act specifically outlaws using race as the basis of employment or college admissions criteria

    … but the Courts have fairly consistently ruled that “Affirmative Action” goals means that the Act commands exactly such blatant discrimination

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that’s all.”

    • Warrington Faust

      It is a long established legal “rule of construction” that when the wording of a contract is ambiguous, it is construed against the drafter. This does not require “strict construction”, it is the general rule.

      • ShannonEntropy

        You are talking about contracts, not US Federal Law

        As Scalia put it in his dissent =►

        Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.”…

        — The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so…

        That is not “ambiguity” … that is tendentious il·logic

        • Warrington Faust

          “You are talking about contracts, not US Federal Law”

          True, I am demonstrating a principle. There are legal tenants dealing with ambiguous statutes. One is “void for vagueness” meaning the average person would not know what the law is prescribing, or proscribing. The courts should refuse to enforce such laws and return them to the legislature. Here we have the court inserting language, in effect legislating. I know of no legal principle which supports that. “Separation of Powers” would seem to condemn it.

  • Max

    I watched the good reverend on Sunday and was waiting for the other shoe to drop. It never did. Shame on me for being so skeptical but I’ll take it. You’ll probably laugh when I say it was nice to see a sign that there is some sanity left in this society.

    • Warrington Faust

      He behaved very honorably. It has been noted that there are few race riots in the South, perhaps he is part of the reason. Perhaps we need at least one Protestant on the Supreme Court. On a religious basis, most of America is not represented on the court. The Court has long maintained a “Jewish seat”, why not a “Protestant seat” also?

  • Can I See your Papers?

    You folks sure love the Constitution…until someone interprets it differently than you.

    • Warrington Faust

      We are not discussing mere “interpretation” here. Seeing it that simply does avoid a lot of thinking.

    • Max

      LOL! The troll thinks the Constitution is the problem.