Thursday, June 02, 2005

Do it or else

Volokh comments on a story about a judge who gave a drug offender the choice of going to church or going to jail.

A Kentucky judge has been offering some drug and alcohol offenders theoption of attending worship services instead of going to jail or rehab -- apractice some say violates the separation of church and state.

District Judge Michael Caperton, 50, a devout Christian, said his goal isto "help people and their families."

David Friedman, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union ofKentucky, said the option raises "serious constitutional problems."

"The judge is saying that those willing to go to worship services can avoidjail in the same way that those who decline to go cannot," Friedman said. "

That strays from government neutrality towards religion."

Indeed it does, Eugene Volokh comments...

This issue has actually come up in the past, when the government has given prisoners special benefits if they go to Alcoholics Anonymous, a program that has a religious component; courts have generally — and in my view, rightly — held that such a program indeed violates the Establishment Clause, precisely because it coerces people to participate in religious activities.

The result would be different if the judge required people to do something, and there were both religious and nonreligious options. But here it sounds like the only option is to engage in religious practice — or go to jail or rehab. I'm not sure that going to worship services is an effective way of getting people to stop misbehaving. But whether or not it is, the government may not coerce people into religiosity, even as a tool in fighting drug and alcohol abuse.

Hmm, if... there were... options.

Military conscription is very likely to return, if not in this war, then in the next.
I wonder how well their options will be understood by the kids who will be drafted? Poorly, I would guess, inasmuch as the only source of such information has historicaly been through churches, and from where I stand churches no longer murmur a word of concern about going to war.

But, hey! That's not what they were talking about...
Let's change the subject.

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