No one should ever beat a dead horse that’s flatter than a spatula. Metaphorically. Literally, that’s your call. If you just need to vent, and if the horse is already dead and you don’t mind PETA picketing on your lawn, then whale away.
However, no matter how flat it’s become, flogging a dead horse from a different angle can be worthwhile. After all, you might have missed a spot.
Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk with the ingenious idea that the First Amendment protected her right to do nothing at her government job, has been nearly-universally mocked by anyone who graduated high school, or who isn’t running for the GOP presidential nomination. We could go over the legion of reasons why she’s in the wrong, but you already know them all because, once again, this ex-equine is now flatly supine.
In fact, Ms. Davis’ stance on gay marriage and her personal religious beliefs is so horrifically outdated, not even the Catholic Church would endorse it. After all, who would? Clarence Thomas, that’s who.
Justice Clarence Thomas was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1991, and has become widely accepted as its most conservative member. His hyper-textualist approach to reading laws has likely made him one of the worst drivers in the country, due to his incredible judicial acumen:
- “I’m sorry, officer. The sign clearly says ‘Right turn on red.’ As you can see, the light is currently green.”
- “I’m sorry, officer. The sign said to merge, and I was obeying it. The sign did not say to only merge if no one was in the other lane.”
- “I’m sorry, officer. The sign tells me to stop. I have stopped. Until the sign tells me to go, I am clearly not allowed to do so. You should tell everyone behind me to stop honking.”
Mr. Thomas’ insistence that words carry only the minimal amount of meaning possible has led him to endorse some interesting constitutional ideas. Especially important to this particular instance of horse abuse is his reading of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…
According to Mr. Thomas, this means that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. “Congress,” of course, means the Federal Government. Therefore, while the Establishment Clause prohibits the Federal Government from establishing a religion, it says nothing about the states’ ability to do it. In fact, it means that, if one of the states, like Kentucky, were to establish a state religion, the Federal Government would not even be allowed to pass a law to stop them.
To nearly all legal scholars, this is where the Fourteenth Amendment comes into play. By changing the direct object, the Fourteenth Amendment says what the states can’t do, as opposed to what the Federal Government can’t do. This was done soon after the Civil War specifically to prevent states (the South) from violating the rights of some people (ex-slaves). The Supreme Court has incorporated nearly all of the other Amendments into the Fourteenth.
But Justice Thomas doesn’t care. Regardless of the fact that the goal of the Fourteenth Amendment was to let the Federal Government restrict what states can do, Thomas has said1 that the Establishment Clause does not let the Federal Government restrict what states can do. In his eyes, if Kentucky wants to establish a state religion that prohibits gays from marrying, they can do it, and the Federal Government can’t do anything about it.
Which, obviously, brings us back to the horse, Kim Davis. It’s a shame, really, that she ventured all the way to Washington D.C. to visit the Pope when she could have just made the trip to visit Justice Thomas. While he might not give her the hug, the handshake, and the “stay strong” that she seems so desperate to have, he’d still tell her that, if Kentucky had taken the time to establish a state religion, then sure, why not?
Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1, 49 (J. Thomas, concurring in judgment ↩