History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.
People seem to want to discuss Third District Court of Appeals Judge Leslie Rothenberg.
Have at it.
In the interest of equal time, we include the link to her Bio on the 3rd DCA’s website. BIO
Judge Rothenberg: Runner, black belt, supporter of Israel, signer of the Christian Family Coalition’s pledge to use the powers of her office to oppose gay marriage, abortion, and support religious displays on public property. Former Prosecutor; ran for State Attorney; former Circuit Court Judge. We think it behooves everyone to remember people are much more than their public persona. There are two sides to every story, and for every complaint about Judge Rothenberg being too State oriented, there are her positions that she advocated during her run for State Attorney about revamping the Juvenile Justice Courts, and not wasting resources on simple drug possession cases.
See the New Times Article
Here is part of what the New Times has to say when Judge Rothenberg was running for State Attorney in 2004:
This past August, during the Republican primary for Miami-Dade State Attorney, the Christian Family Coalition asked candidates to sign a form pledging that, if elected, they would use their powers as public officials to oppose gay marriage and support a religious agenda. "Running for a quasi-judicial office, I did not think it was appropriate," says one of those candidates, Al Milian, who declined to sign.
His Republican opponent, Leslie Rothenberg, enthusiastically put pen to paper. She vowed to oppose providing abortion coverage as part of local government's health-care package as well as any zoning laws restricting religious meetings. She supported religious displays on public property. And she promised to oppose gay marriage and domestic partnerships "with my votes, powers, and privileges of public office."
[Rumpole thinks this is a good place for another quote from Thomas Jefferson:
"The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man." --Thomas Jefferson to Jeremiah Moor, 1800. ]
Rothenberg's career as a jurist was baptized in controversy. In 1992 she quit after six years as a prosecutor in the State Attorney's Office to run for judge in the Eleventh Circuit here in Miami-Dade. She trumpeted her experience as a "tough prosecutor" and "crime fighter" so vociferously that local defense attorneys were convinced she was blatantly anti-defendant.
When she won, Robert Scola Jr., chairman of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (now a circuit court judge himself), sent a letter to Leonard Rivkind, the Eleventh Circuit's chief judge, asking him to assign Rothenberg to the civil, not criminal, division: "Our directors unanimously expressed grave concerns about her ability to sit fairly and impartially as a criminal court judge," Scola wrote in the September 17, 1992, missive. This was not a knee-jerk reaction. More than twenty prosecutors had become judges before Rothenberg, and the lawyers association had never deemed it necessary to send a letter of concern.
What can we say?
We elected Holly-Go-Lightly as our Governor, and he and his brother are bound and determined to turn this country into the gay hating, cross worshiping, Christian Nation that their supporters so ferverently believe we are.
You guys on the comment board can have at it with Judge Rothenberg, but as Hyman Roth said of Frank ("Frankie Five Angels") Pentangeli in the Godfather,
“[s]he’s small potatoes.”
The larger issue is the election, appointment, and promotion of politicians and their minions who support the belief this is a Christian nation.
It is a nation where any and all beliefs about religion or against religion are welcome. But do not confuse a country that is a haven for any and all religious beliefs, as a religious country. That is the difference between America and Iran. Yet the CFC and other religious zealots want us to be Iran, just a Christian Iran not a Muslim one. Substitute priests and preachers for Mullahs, and you have the type of country the brothers Bush and their followers want.
“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782
We could rail on about Judge Rothenberg’s pledge to the CFC.
But who are we as compared to Thomas Jefferson? So we will let him speak for us:
"I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like (the purchase of a book) can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offense against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens?
Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched?
Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? ...
Thomas Jefferson to N. G. Dufief, 1814. ME 14:127
What Jefferson was saying (if we may be so bold, but it is our blog after all) is that once you let the Camel’s nose under the tent- Once you let religion become the standard of what is appropriate or legal conduct, then who is to judge what religion allows and disallows?
Who tells us what God wants? Who decides what religion says the law may allow and prohibit?
Over 230 years ago we choose to be a country of laws not religion.
We are governed by our laws and have chosen Judges to interpret those laws.
The irony is that when Judges surrender to the supremacy of religion; when they pledge to use the powers of their office to advance the goals of a particular religion, or religion in general as is the case with the CFC pledge, they are surrendering the power that we have entrusted in them.
Can anyone be that desperate to win an election?