The following op-ed was published in the Deseret News.
According to a unanimous decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court, the suppression of one’s moral convictions and the denial of one’s property rights has become the “price of citizenship.” The court’s opinion stemmed from a lawsuit against a photography studio whose owners declined to offer their services to a homosexual couple. Citing their religious convictions as a basis for their choice, they were soon faced with a legal battle over their discriminatory decision.
This is part of a larger trend nationwide. A Vermont country inn was fined $30,000 because one of its employees turned away a gay couple seeking to hold their wedding reception at the facility based on the owner’s religious convictions. In Colorado, a judgeupheld a gay couple’s lawsuit against a bakery for not offering them a wedding cake. A florist in Washington was likewise sued for her refusal to offer her services in support of a same-sex ceremony. We can expect more legal battles along these lines in the future, including here in Utah.
The following op-ed written by our policy analyst, Josh Daniels, was published in today’s Salt Lake Tribune.
Utah needs a recall election system. Governments “of the people” must have sufficient means for citizen oversight, and recall elections help ensure that government does not stray too far from the people.
Rep. Gage Froerer is sponsoring House Joint Resolution 4 in the current legislative session. If adopted, and if successful when placed on the ballot, the Utah Constitution would be amended to allow for the recall of the governor, state auditor, state treasurer and attorney general. This is a step in the right direction. However, in keeping with the proverb “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” it would be improved by including legislators on the list of elected officials subject to recall.
Of the 20 states with recall provisions for state officials, all but two — Illinois and Rhode Island — include state legislators. Utah should join the trend and create this ability for citizens to better hold elected officials accountable.
The following op-ed by our president Connor Boyack was published in today’s Standard Examiner.
If you remember your Bible stories, you’ll recall Esau and Jacob, the twin sons of Isaac and grandsons of Abraham. By being born first, Esau was the legal heir to the birthright, set to preside over the family and receive a double inheritance from his father. Surprisingly, he exchanged this prized status for a mess of pottage—giving up something profoundly important to satisfy a momentary desire.
Of course, the fulfillment of a fleeting need for food was temporary, and Esau would once again be hungry at a later time. Perhaps for this reason—by abandoning his birthright in favor of something so ephemeral—we read that Esau “despised his birthright,” obviously placing little value on it.
Many politicians follow in Esau’s footsteps.
The following is our op-ed published in today’s Deseret News.
For years, former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt led a failed effort to create a presidential primary in the West, hoping to remedy the longstanding concern that Utah and other surrounding states are “fly-over states,” meaning that candidates don’t spend much time or attention here. Now, Leavitt and his like-minded associates are promoting an effort to create this same problem in Utah.
The “Count My Vote” initiative—a proposal to dismantle Utah’s hybrid caucus/convention and primary system and move to primaries alone—would disenfranchise rural counties with sparse populations around the state, thus creating “fly-over counties” that would fail to attract candidates for state-wide office during a primary or general election.
In promoting his presidential primary, Leavitt’s goal was to “be better able to attract presidential candidates to discuss the region’s issues.” The concern was then, as it is now, that presidential candidates see little value in spending their time and attention on a state that will assuredly vote Republican and has few delegates to sway a vote. “The voice of the West is going to be heard if only faintly” under the current system, Leavitt said.
The following is our op-ed published in this weekend’s Salt Lake Tribune.
On May 15, 1945, fifteen men in suits and ties gathered for a photo opportunity on the steps of the Utah State Prison as they began their indeterminate sentences of up to five years. The supposed crime for which they were being incarcerated was “unlawful cohabitation.”
Put differently, the freedom of fifteen men was severely restricted, with taxpayers footing the bill for their prosecution and incarceration, because the men had strayed outside society’s norm by consensually choosing to love, support, and live with more than one female companion and their subsequent children.
Editor’s note: Libertas Institute invited former state school board candidates to support and co-sign the following letter that was published in today’s Deseret News.
Imagine running for public office, only to be told by the Governor that he didn’t want you to be on the ballot. Then imagine that the Governor actually had the power to make it happen.
This un-democratic mental exercise is a reality in Utah, and each of us have been in this position. As past candidates for the state school board, we were each denied ballot access by the Governor or his appointed agents without voters having a say.
Utah law allows a committee of 12 persons, appointed by the Governor, to screen candidates for the state school board and select at least three from each district they find best (for whatever reason) to submit to the Governor for consideration. Any candidate not chosen is unable to appeal to voters, and has effectively been weeded out of the electoral process.
The following is our op-ed published in the Salt Lake Tribune.
In an effort to tear down Sen. Aaron Osmond’s proposal regarding eliminating compulsory school-attendance laws in Utah, critics have produced a wide range of responses, absolutely none of which addresses the actual problem.
Utah law (62A-4a-201-1a) states that, “Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, a parent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children.” It also says that the state recognizes that parents have “the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority” to educate their children and that “the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.”
The following is an op-ed published in the Salt Lake Tribune this weekend.
Matthew David Stewart may have hung himself in his prison cell last week, but that does not mean that he alone bears the blame for his premature death. In fact, the government is responsible for putting him in the unfortunate circumstances that led to his desire to escape the grim future that faced him.
Little sympathy exists for the man dubbed by the media as an accused “cop killer.” When members of the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force invaded Stewart’s home using a “knock and announce” warrant, the army veteran was awoken by the sound of breaking glass. Acting on training and instinct, Stewart fought back against the intruders. The ensuing firefight resulted in multiple shots to Stewart, and one officer dying and five others being wounded.
Stewart was not engaged in human trafficking. He was not abusing a family member. He was not plotting to rob a bank or bomb a government building. Instead, the alleged crime for which such a heavy-handed assault was deemed necessary was that he was growing a plant, marijuana, for his own personal consumption.
The following is an op-ed published in the Deseret News today.
Article 1, Section 27 of the Utah Constitution states: “Frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is essential to the security of individual rights and the perpetuity of free government.” As the 2013 general session of the Utah legislature begins next Monday, this “essential” process deserves more attention and much more action.
Along the campaign trail, most candidates claim they will uphold individual rights and promote freedom. Our Constitution suggests that success in achieving these laudable goals will come not from a single vote at the ballot box or in a bill sponsored by a legislator, but by our collective recurrence to fundamental principles.
The following is an op-ed published in The Standard-Examiner today.
Not a single legislative session goes by in Utah without accusations from one end of the political spectrum or the other regarding hypocrisy on the part of politicians in our state. While the label of “hypocrite” carries with it a negative connotation, its origin denotes a specific meaning that should be understood in order to be corrected.
The word itself stems from the Greek hypokrites, a descriptive term applied to an actor playing his part on stage. An early example of its use comes from four centuries before Christ, when the Greek orator Demosthenes derided his longtime rival Aeschines as a hypocrite for using his previous employment as an actor to become an untrustworthy politician.
Stage actors during that time usually wore masks, and would modify their voice and actions to imitate the character being represented. Like the sheep in wolf’s clothing, the hypocrite altered himself as needed in order to come across in a preferred way.
Which brings us to politics.