1. As we now know, Governor Brewer vetoed AZ SB1062, the so-called “religious freedom” bill that was widely (and accurately) interpreted as support for discrimination against gays. In the previous post, I suggested that her delay in doing so sent a message that was as hostile to gays as the law itself: if she felt the law was ethically wrong, then she should have and would have announced that she would not sign the bill long ago. Instead, she waited to see how much economic damage the law would do to the state, and then vetoed it, not because this was the right ting to do, but because it was the pragmatic thing to do. (As the satiric Borowitz Report put it, “The state of Arizona found itself in the middle of a conundrum today as it awoke to the awkward realization that gay people have money and buy stuff.”) USA Today noted that, to the contrary,”Some political insiders believe Brewer has allowed furor over the legislation to build to thwart social conservatives’ attempts to push a similar bill later.” I doubt it, but if so, Brewer allowed her state and her fellow Republicans to be represented nationally as homophobic for as long as possible to spare herself the inconvenience of vetoing a second bill.
2. Despite the extravagant debate over the bill, almost no commentators actually published the bill’s text in the commentary. The reason appears to be that since the bill is really an amendment of an existing law, it takes a modicum of intelligence to figure out what’s going on. Here it is (the original law is in black; the new text is in blue; what has been removed in the amended version is struck through): Continue reading
I don’t know what Arizona Republican legislators are running from now: they have accomplished their mission. They’ve made it abundantly clear that they don’t like or respect the rights of gays, bi-sexuals and transsexuals, and want to leave no question in the minds of anti-gay bigots (or good and gentle religious people across the state who want to discriminate against gays because they thing doing so is “moral”) that the nationwide cultural shift to approval of gay marriage, a.k.a, equal rights under law, hasn’t changed this: Arizona Republicans back your dislike of these perverts’ sinful, corrupting lifestyle, whatever the law is.
The disingenuous and offensive argument being made by Republican supporters of the modifications of an 1999 Arizona law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is, in essence, that Arizona businesses can already discriminate against gays, and so can those of lots of other states. This isn’t an anti-gay law! It’s a religious freedom law! Yes, and the Civil War was about States rights. The new bill’s clear motivation—Timing! Timing!— is to strengthen the hand of businesses, organizations, corporation and non-profits that object, allegedly or actually on genuine religious grounds, to serving, employing, or dealing with gays. More than that, however, the goal is to line up the legal, moral and ethical authority of the state behind those who want to treat gays in this fashion, whatever the reason, rather than behind the rights of the LBGT community to be treated like all other citizens. Continue reading
[Personal Note: I apologize for the dearth of posts since Wednesday. I have been on short but intense road tour of Virginia, presenting three three-hour legal ethics seminars in three days, and driving long distances in-between. My sincere intentions to keep up the commentary on ethics developments elsewhere fell victim to fatigue, age, and the surprising discovery that vene I get sick of thinking about ethics sometimes. I am sorry, and will catch up diligently.]
Governor Jan Brewer suffered through an elected official’s nightmare, beginning her televised gubernatorial debate with Democrat Terry Goddard with an embarrassing meltdown, complete with a garbled opening statement and a 16 second pause when she lost her bearings entirely and went mute, despite having her notes in her hand. Ben Smith of Politico wrote that “Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s opening statement in last night’s debate reflects either an amazing lack of preparation, or sheer panic.” Well, nobody who is going to appear on television for a debate that will decide her future employment fails to prepare. It was obviously panic, and the kind of panic that has very little to do with being governor of Arizona or the ability to do any other job, except perhaps host the “Tonight Show.” Continue reading
I try not to consider political punditry unethical, except when the opinion rendered is unusually dishonest, misleading, uncivil, or unfair. Unfortunately, the current ideological blood sport fostered and nurtured by such outlets as Fox New, MSNBC, the Daily Kos and Breitbart, and carried on by such commentators as Ann Coulter and Frank Rich, make it increasing difficult to follow my own guideline. Occasionally there pieces so outrageously unfair that they make me angry, and those are ethically perilous: emotion is not conducive to balanced analysis. Usually I pass. The recent screed of Dana Goldstein on The Daily Beast, however, has to be condemned.
I just hope I can get through the process of explaining what without becoming furious.
It is entitled “Is Jan Brewer Anti-Immigrant Because She Didn’t Go to College?,” earning an ethics red flag right off the bat for intentionally equating Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law with being “anti-immigrant,” which it is not. Continue reading
A strange tale in the New York Times, told by reporter Adam Liptak, raises a persistent problem of executive ethics. Is it unethical for a state governor to reject a recommendation of clemency based on strong evidence?
As Liptak tells it, it had been 28 years since Ronald Kempfert had seen his father, imprisoned in an Arizona prison in 1975 for a 1962 double murder, when a lawyer contacted Kempfert and told him that his father had been framed—by his mother. Nearly the entire case against the father, William Macumber, had been based on his wife’s testimony that he had confessed the murders to her. Kempfert, knowing his mother, and knowing the toxic state of their marital discord at the time of her testimony, agreed that she was quite capable of doing such a thing, and after doing some digging on his own, concluded that his father, now elderly and ailing, had been wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
There was more. Continue reading