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Natural Law

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NEWS
September 1, 1991 | By Aaron Epstein, Inquirer Washington Bureau
It was nearly 120 years ago that the Supreme Court upheld a state law barring women from becoming lawyers, declaring that it was "the law of the Creator" that a woman "fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. " Today, that discredited 1873 decision is being dredged up by foes of the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Why? Because the 1873 court and Thomas share a common legal theory: natural law. Natural law is founded on the venerable concept of an unwritten moral code.
NEWS
September 11, 1991 | From Inquirer Wire Services
Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearings yesterday sounded like an advanced jurisprudence seminar as Thomas was questioned about the "natural law" method of constitutional interpretation. Thomas has gained national attention in legal circles for invoking "natural law" or "higher law" as a key principle in the Constitution. Natural law is a fuzzy and malleable concept that has been endorsed by liberals as well as conservatives. In contrast to the strict constructionist view that the Constitution must be interpreted by sticking closely to its text, proponents of natural law hold that the Constitution also protects rights that are not specifically enumerated, or set out, in the words of the document.
NEWS
September 11, 1991 | By Aaron Epstein, Knight-Ridder News Service Inquirer wire services contributed to this article
Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas opened his Senate hearings yesterday by refusing to say how he stood on abortion and by distancing himself from the controversial theory of natural law. He said he believed the Constitution gave married couples "a right to privacy," but he declined to say whether that right included the option to choose abortion. Thomas tried to disavow his earlier advocacy of a "natural-law philosophy" that Senate Democrats suggested could be invoked to lessen personal privacy and to outlaw abortions.
NEWS
August 1, 1991 | BY CAL THOMAS
Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, reflecting the arrogance of modernists about everything that precedes the television age, recently wrote that Clarence Thomas "is the first Supreme Court nominee in 50 years to maintain that natural law should be readily consulted in constitutional interpretation. " Tribe ought to be asked why the interpretations of law by judges of the last 50 years should be considered superior to those of the previous 150 years or, indeed, of the Founders or those who preceded and influenced them.
NEWS
July 18, 2001
IRA EINHORN is nothing more than an actor. In the '60s, Einhorn was a hippie messiah wannabe. Last week, he looked like a demonic figure when he made a superficial suicide attempt to avoid extradition for killing his girlfriend. After 24 years, poetic justice will be served and the natural law will prevail. Just like the beatniks who eventually became the establishment, everything in time comes full circle. Stuart M. Burgh Jr., Philadelphia
NEWS
September 17, 1991 | By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER
"The higher-law background of the American Constitution . . . provides the only firm basis for a just, wise and constitutional decision. " - Clarence Thomas, 1988 "At no point did I or do I believe that the approach of natural law or that natural rights has a role in constitutional adjudication. " - Clarence Thomas, 1991 For several years in many forums, Clarence Thomas stressed the importance of natural law - meaning a higher moral law beyond man-made law - in American law and ethics.
NEWS
September 19, 1991 | BY MICHAEL LACING
From Michael Lacing: The term "Natural Law" has suddenly become part of our vocabulary. Some are confused to what this term actually means. Below are a few examples of Natural Law: Children are not permitted to look at a picture of Spiro Agnew until they turn 18. Spectators attending any Liz Taylor wedding ceremonies are allowed to laugh when the minister says, "'Til death do us part. " It allows you to make a citizen's arrest when you come upon a couple wearing matching shirts that say: Master and Slave.
NEWS
September 13, 1991 | By Aaron Epstein, Inquirer Washington Bureau
Clarence Thomas, weathering Democratic charges of dodging the abortion issue and abandoning his past positions on natural law, edged closer yesterday to Senate Judiciary Committee approval of his nomination to the Supreme Court. Democrats said they thought no more than five members of the 14-man committee would vote against Thomas because he has made no serious misstep, according to Democratic sources close to the committee Testifying for a third day, Thomas, 43, took unexpectedly moderate positions by supporting the right of unmarried people to use contraceptives, endorsing strong separation of church and state, and backing public housing.
NEWS
September 13, 1991 | BY CAL THOMAS
What if the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who sit in judgment of Clarence Thomas could be questioned on their views of the origin of laws and rights? What an education the American people might get if Thomas and his interrogators could switch positions. A clue to the thinking of the more liberal senators may be found in Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph Biden's, D-Del., op-ed piece Sunday in The Washington Post. Biden rejects the idea that God-given rights imply a moral code.
NEWS
September 11, 1991 | Daily News Wire Services
DAY ONE QUOTE OF THE DAY "My grandparents grew up and lived their lives in an era of blatant segregation and overt discrimination. Their sense of fairness was molded in a crucible of unfairness. I watched as my grandfather was called 'boy.' I watched as my grandmother suffered the indignity of being denied the use of a bathroom. But through it all, they remained fair, decent, good people . . . I follow in their footsteps and I have always tried to give back. " Thomas' opening statement THE QUESTIONERS Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and indications of their stance on Thomas' nomination (though none has announced how he will vote)
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NEWS
August 1, 2013
WE THOUGHT it would be difficult for Pennsylvania - the least progressive state in the region, and one of the least in the union on gay rights - to look much worse. But this week, we managed to sink even lower. This week, Pennsylvania became less progressive on gay rights than the pope . The Catholic Church, of course, is not exactly renowned for its tolerance toward the LGBT community. The previous pope, Benedict XVI, approved an order calling homosexual acts "grave sins" that are "intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. " Earlier this week, Pope Francis struck a much different tone, saying, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?"
NEWS
July 28, 2012 | By Bill Reed, Inquirer Staff Writer
Major provisions of Pennsylvania's controversial law governing the oil and natural-gas industry were ruled unconstitutional Thursday, allowing communities to keep drilling away from homes, schools, and parks. The 4-3 ruling by a Commonwealth Court panel was a blow to Gov. Corbett, who has pushed to attract gas drilling and the resulting jobs to the state. An appeal of the ruling to the state Supreme Court was likely, Corbett's office said. The provisions of Act 13 that override local zoning and environmental laws are "unconstitutional, null, and void," President Judge Dan Pellegrini wrote.
NEWS
April 13, 2012 | By Sandy Bauers, Inquirer Staff Writer
When Pennsylvania's new natural gas law, which takes effect Saturday, was being debated, the focus was on high-profile issues such as the new impact fee. But just before it passed, medical provisions were added that now have some physicians worried it will compromise public health. Except in an emergency, a physician who needs proprietary information about chemicals used in natural gas drilling to assess a patient must provide "a written statement" to a company, according to the act, and must sign a confidentiality agreement.
NEWS
September 9, 2011
By Lanny Morgnanesi Lately there's been much reading of old but relevant documents, like the Constitution. For my part, I've been reading old but relevant books. One is The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His 18th-century writings helped inspire the French Revolution and probably the American Revolution. In this small book he uses a familiar term later picked up in our Declaration of Independence: "unalienable rights. " Until recently, I thought unalienable rights were ones that could not be taken away.
NEWS
October 17, 2007 | By David O'Reilly INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Devout U.S. Catholics like himself may stand apart from much of the nation on abortion, homosexuality, and embryonic stem-cell research, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a packed audience at Villanova University yesterday, but he insisted "there is no such thing as a 'Catholic judge.' " "The bottom line is that the Catholic faith seems to me to have little effect on my work as a judge," he declared. Invited to speak to that very question - "the role of Catholic faith in the work of a judge" - the famously opinionated justice rendered his decision just three minutes into his keynote lecture at Villanova Law School's annual Scarpa conference on law, politics and culture.
NEWS
July 11, 2002 | By Gregory J. Sullivan
The end of the U.S. Supreme Court's term brought a flurry of noteworthy rulings involving such important issues as school vouchers and the execution of retarded criminals. These cases have dramatically changed the political landscape. But a lawsuit filed in New Jersey overshadows them, at least in this state. The litigation will, without the intervention of a constitutional amendment, establish a constitutional and moral catastrophe - homosexual marriage. Seven same-sex couples have sued for the right to marry.
NEWS
June 10, 2002 | By Betty Jean Wolfe
On May 16 the Philadelphia City Council voted 15-2 to pass a bill that prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations on the basis of "gender identity. " Many sexual minority-rights groups consider inclusion of people under this rubric a major victory. Mara Keisling, co-chair of the Pennsylvania Gender Rights Coalition, described City Council's action as "a wonderful step forward for civil rights for citizens of Philadelphia. " I thought the Constitution's 14th Amendment - equal protection under the law - took care of that.
NEWS
July 18, 2001
IRA EINHORN is nothing more than an actor. In the '60s, Einhorn was a hippie messiah wannabe. Last week, he looked like a demonic figure when he made a superficial suicide attempt to avoid extradition for killing his girlfriend. After 24 years, poetic justice will be served and the natural law will prevail. Just like the beatniks who eventually became the establishment, everything in time comes full circle. Stuart M. Burgh Jr., Philadelphia
NEWS
July 12, 1997 | By Walter Williams
Should we obey laws? It all depends. Some laws aren't worthy of obedience. I know what you'll say: "What kind of society would there be if people decided which laws they'd obey or disobey?" How big a worry should that be? Let's consider. During several visits to South Africa during its apartheid era, I discovered widespread disobedience and contravention of its apartheid laws. Whites rented to blacks in open violation of the Groups Areas Act. Whites hired blacks in defiance of job-reservation laws that set aside certain jobs for whites.
NEWS
September 26, 1996 | By Tom Infield, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
First came the Libertarian Party, with its platform to scrap most of the federal government. Then came the Natural Law Party, pushing a notion that the United States would be a better place if its citizens practiced transcendental meditation. Typically, these minor movements operate without much notice on the fringe of American politics. But, this year, their candidates conceivably could tip the balance in one of the country's most closely watched congressional elections - the battle in the Philadelphia suburbs between freshman Republican Jon D. Fox and Democrat Joe Hoeffel.
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