Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Today the one and only Phyllis Schlafly was at our humble institution of higher learning. Why? Well, there was free pizza involved. But somehow my liberal ass isn't as pushy as those folks who are part of the Federalist Society and I didn't quite make it to the pizza before the crazy conservatives had scarfed it all down (and shame, SHAME, on all those people who took TWO pieces before everyone had their share). And because I wanted to know if Schlafly was really as big an idiot as I assumed she was based on my Gloria Steinem readings. Also, in addition to all of that, I thought it would be fun. I thought I would give my brain a workout by creating rebuttals to all she had to say. Instead, I just got myself riled up. Riled up about a lot of stuff I know nothing about it. So, of course, I'm going to list things she said that were upsetting to me. Because that's what grad students do. We take way too long to process things. And we think people care what we think. So here goes. Schlafly rebuttal (take one).

  • Her presentation was on her new book and how much she hates the Supreme Court. In particular, the issues she chose to focus her assault on were the Pledge of Allegiance under God controversy, the taking down of the ten commandments in public areas like courthouses, and gay marriage.
  • In the audience was a guy (a friend I was with told me he was a first year law student) with a Nalgene water bottle in front of him. His water bottle had a huge sticker on it that said, "I (heart) MY PENIS." Oh, I died. I laughed. I really did think I was going to roll on the floor.
  • So, this event was sponsored by the Federalist Society. Essentially, they are some strange folks who believe that the Federalist Papers (remember - Madison, Hamilton, and Jay propaganda to get New York to ratify that newfangled constitution back in the day under the psuedonym of Publius?) are the gospel. The Constitution should be interpreted according to principles laid down in the Federalist Papers. Clearly Schlafly does not believe that (we'll get to that later), but there was a point where she said that something that John Adams wrote could not be used to defend a position because HOW COULD HE POSSIBLY HAVE FORESEEN EVENTS of today? How could Pulius? That's all I wanted to know.
  • Okay, she really, really, really hates Earl Warren and the Warren Court. I wish I could express to you how she said Warren Court like it was the worst thing in the world. (Another side note. It reminds me of the time Reagan was talking about Dukakis and he said disdainfully of him, "he is a card-carrying member of the ACLU" and then Dukakis, at his next speech, smilingly holds up a white card ands says, "here's that card that's creating such a ruckus" or words to that effect. Reagan's tone of disdain was similar to Schlafly's.) She said that the Warren Court transformed the First Amendment into a tool for pornography and turned the laws protecting us (who is us, anyway? certainly she's not speaking for ME, is she?) upside down. Damn Earl Warren and his insane belief in freedom of speech.
  • Okay, and it got better. She was talking about how the Supreme Court ruled that pornography on the Internet (including pop-ups) was a legal right under the Constitution. And that was unfair. She said it was unfair to expect parents to MAKE SURE THEIR CHILDREN DIDN'T SEE PORNOGRAPHY and set their own controls on home computers because THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO IT FOR THEM (aren't the conservatives the ones who are always bitching about too much governmental interference?). Okay, here's her analogy. Let's make sure I get it right. It's like there's a flasher outside, in front of your house, and you call the police and they tell you to pull down the shades. Ummmm...well, this analogy has a major problem as far as I can tell. Blocking internet pornography is within your control, with some different blocking programs and whatnot. Also, porn on your home computer is hardly dangerous to your personal safety. A flasher in your yard is hardly within your control and may be potentially dangerous.
  • Okay, my roommate's notes are here to help me on this next comment. Schlafly has a different conception of the private/public distinction than I do. We can't be trusted to control our own home computers, but we should be forced to listen to a chant, invoking the name of a diety that we may or may not believe in, in many public venues. We need to be protected in our own homes, not in public.
  • She hates the ACLU like Reagan. Such contempt in her voice when speaking of the organization. Who knew Roger Baldwin was creating such a monster? I'm gonna get myself a membership cuz I want to be cool like Dukakis.
  • I need to also read an Earl Warren biography. She really hates him. Someone who manages to get such extreme reactions from this esteemed member of the Eagle Forum is someone I want to know about. Anti-god, pro-communist (many guffaws in the audience at this), anti-prayer Warren Court. Damn, damn, damn them. Again this is ACLU-related. The ACLU claimed that those damn communists should be allowed to demonstrate freely. The (damn) Warren Court agreed. You know, we really do need to keep those dissidents quiet.
  • So, just because the public thinks that communists are bad, the Supreme Court should go with it? Public opinion should lead judicial decisions. Oh, wait. But only sometimes. Like, it would have been bad if they would have decided to agree with public opinion for Plessy v. Ferguson. No? Huh. Public opinion should not lead public opinion. That's what Publius said in the Federalist Papers. Oh, so maybe Schlafly just disagrees with the Federalist Society on this ONE thing. So, ummmmm, the Supreme Court should only be an activist court SOMETIMES. Some civil liberties are good, but some are bad. At least this is what I got out of the whole thing. Maybe she sees something else. It's all in your personal view.
  • There was a random comment that the pro-communist decisions made by (who else?) the Warren Court dismantled internal security. I think I was too busy staring, slack-jawed, to listen to the reason for this, but in my notes it says WTF?! I think that's enough about that.
  • Roe v. Wade has no constitutional basis. Okay, maybe. But I'm going to give both prolifers and prochoicers a HUGE wakeup call here. The Constitution says nothing about abortion, health care, OR privacy. So a literal interrpretation of this document does not help you. Either side. You need something with a little more meat to convince me on either side of this debate.
  • Okay, here's the point that I have to give to her. The Defense of Marriage Act. Yes, it's possible that Congress can pass a law to have it removed from the jurisdiction of federal courts. True enough. Congress created those courts and can sure as hell restrict what they hear. Congress did NOT create the Supreme Court, though (a little thing called Article Three of the United States Constitution did), and so the constitutionality of DOMA can be (and SHOULD be) examined under the province of the Supreme Court. They can't take away judicial review. Unless they (Schlafly and her ilk) want to somehow redo Marbury v. Madison. What? Undo the foundational case of judicial review, you say? Isn't that revolutionary? Sheesh. No, they're not revolutionaries. They're patriots.
  • The Equal Protection Clause should not override a PROPERLY MADE law. Huh. Well, damn it all. That crazy EPC sure helped us override those crazy racist laws like Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott v. Sanford. But, those were properly made laws. Damn. I am NOT even having to dig deep to find counterexamples to everything she says. Or, does she think those were badly decided cases? (Someone asked this very question. Her response was shockingly honest. It was a good decision, but it was made by an activist court [her words were actually supremist court] because the decision went beyond the scope of what was before the Court [the issue of one man's fate]). By the way, minorities can't depend on the EPC for protection. That's how we ended up with Plessy v. Ferguson. That's also how we ended up with Brown v. BOE.
  • Marbury v. Madison was a "fine decision," but it was a limited decision and established judicial review, not judicial supremacy. Crazy, I say. Apparently she thinks that equal means supreme. Because the Court is attempting to rise above its "least dangerous branch" label (which of course, is what Publius called it, so Schlafly thinks is the way things SHOULD be), they are attempting to be supreme. Not true. The Court is simply doing its best to have its proper place in the checks and balances of our system (also an important Publius idea).

Okay, there you go. This is what happens when a liberal goes for free pizza. All hell breaks loose on paper. But, really, I didn't have to dig too deep in the memory banks.

And, just in case Schlafly reads this (ha!), the Supreme Court is the most trusted branch of government. People don't hate our Justices as much as you do.

Oh, and a shout out to the law students. You were very nice to that crazy, tightass, pro-family lady. In our department, things would have been heated. You took what she said, you listened, you ignored. No heat. Impressive. It will stand you well in life. Especially if you decide to be trial lawyers. And if the whole lot of you decide to be trial lawyers, good luck getting a job.

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