Subpoenaing sermons: Method in Houston mayor’s madness

Subpoenaing sermons: Method in Houston mayor’s madness

There are three reasons why she might have expected this to be effective.
First, Mayor Parker likely believed that issuing the subpoenas, even if later withdrawn, would cause Houston pastors to think twice about criticizing her or her bathroom bill. She would not be the first politician to harass and attempt to intimidate people with opposing beliefs. The right response to such intimidation is for citizens of all stripes to vote out of office those politicians who practice it.
Second, in the case of pastors, Mayor Parker is clearly aware that there is a provision of U.S. tax law that already tends to chill the speech of some pastors from the pulpit. Known as the “Johnson Amendment” because it was authored by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, the statute states that tax-exempt organizations–churches, for instance–may not “participate in, or intervene in…any political campaign on behalf of…any candidate for public office.” …
Third, there is now an established and successful political and constitutional strategy to paint the protection of traditional moral values — and opposition to newly-invented sexual and gender identity rights — as motivated by malice.
In the 2013 Supreme Court decision (United States v. Windsor) that invalidated Congress’ enacted definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that the only purpose of those who supported this traditional definition of marriage was to “disparage,” ”injure,” “degrade,” ”demean,” and “humiliate” certain groups of fellow citizens.
In a word, hate is all that Justice Kennedy sees when he encounters someone who supports a traditional definition of marriage. Under this newly-invented constitutional standard, if the Court feels today that a particular law is hateful, then the Court will simply invalidate the law, no further justification needed. …
We can be confident that Mayor Parker has taken note of Justice Kennedy’s insidious two-part strategy of (1) making skeptics of the left’s sexual and gender identity agenda into “enemies of humanity”, to paraphrase Justice Scalia, and (2) thereby ending political debate over these newly-invented sexual rights by declaring them constitutional rights beyond public debate. Mayor Parker’s attention-grabbing subpoenas of five Christian pastors seems intended to do just that – to persuade the public that ‘these are the hateful haters who oppose my agenda to conjure up new constitutional rights.’


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