Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam

ON SUNDAY, James and I were sustained to be the ward's Sunbeam teachers. We were a little shocked when we were asked to do it. Having just moved into the ward, we had hoped for some time in Relief Society and Elders Quorum to get to know people a little, but the Lord had different plans for us. Instead of sitting in Relief Society or enjoying the Sunday School lesson, we get to teach the three year olds.

I was really dismayed when we got the calling. I was hoping to become the ward food storage specialist or work in the family history library--Both things I need to be doing, but have been lacking. After we got the call, I realize the kind of callings I wanted were a little selfish. I wanted to something that I should be doing already and just wanted to be pushed into it or given more time to do it. But that's not always the way the church works. We can't tell the Lord how we want to learn and grow, rather he tells us. So I may not get to learn the intricacies of the canning system here, but rather I get to learn how to make a grumpy 3 year old participate in a lesson or learn how to wrangle a group of them without duct tape (the Sunbeam class has 12 kids). This will be a growing experience for James and I, and unexpected growing experience, but a growing experience nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


"We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."

I usually try to stay rather apolitical in my blogging, but the above quote from Barack Obama has really been bothering me. As I explain why this bothers me I will try to keep it from becoming a rant, but give no guarantees.

As a first year law student, one of the first lessons that was embedded into my way of thinking was that of "fairsies." "Fairsies" is basically the concept that when applying the rule of law, a judge or jury can't rule based on what the fair outcome would be. Tugging of the heart strings should have no influence on the decision. All decisions must be made according to the law as it is written and interpreted and as according to the precedent set forth by prior cases. If the judiciary judges every case according to the fair outcome then the laws would be inefficient and there would be no way to set a legal standard because what's fair in one case may be completely inequitable in another. If a Fairsies or Equal Justice standard were set, case law would be nothing but a hodgepodge of cases that nobody would be able to interpret. Because of that courts have reject the Equal Justice argument. Justice John Marshall Harlan said it best in rejecting the perversion of "Equal Justice" in his powerful dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson:

"Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The
humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes
no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as
guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved. "

"All citizens are equal before the law." What a beautiful concept. No one citizen is judged to be more important or in a higher standing because of any issue, race, age, or case. All are equal. Even the "judge's oath," codified at 28 U.S.C. § 453 states that all are equal and the judge cannot be partial to any one party.
"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice
without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and
that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties
incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United
States. So help me God."

So, in light of all this, what part does empathy play in a judges decision making? I'm hard pressed to find where this is a necessary quality. Sure, I don't a cold, unfeeling, person sitting on the bench. A judge must have a heart, but it can't be a factor in legal decisions.

(Beware this next part will be more of a rant)

When Obama gave this little tidbit of a quote, I have to wonder if he even looked at who is on the court. Sure there's nobody that was a single teenage mom, but look at the rest of his list. Poor, African-American, gay, disabled, old. None of the current members of the U.S. Supreme Court (USSC) are openly gay, but his other necessary qualities are well covered.

Justice Clarence Thomas is African American and grew up very poor. He was raised by a grandfather (after his father abandoned the family) who worked very hard to keep the family just above the poverty line. He even mentions that he was so poor that his student loans were not paid off by the time he became a Justice on the USSC. As for the disabled and old qualities, I think most every justice we've ever had hits the old quality. And I don't think John Paul Stevens is going to do a jig anytime soon, let alone get up the stairs by himself.

All this is to demonstrate (partially) that people (the President) need to look at the court. It's made up of an eclectic group of well educated and politically diverse people. They come from all different socioeconomic backgrounds, but those backgrounds should not determine the decisions that they hand down. The Constitution is the only determining factor. Now, the Justices may disagree on how to interpret the Constitution, but at least they are to interpret the Constitution based on what the document says, not by the way their heart beats or bleeds.

PS-Thanks to Townhall.com for the political cartoon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why I hate Mondays

I believe Mondays are bad because they remind me that I have to spend more time here

then I get to spend with him

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My new favorite funny

I recently stumbled up on Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog and it cracks me up every time I watch it. Here's the trailer:

This was written and produced (from the genius mind of Joss Wedon) during the writer's strike last year. The whole thing is only 45 minutes long, but on Hulu it's broken into 15 minute segments. If you can find the DVD, I hear the director's commentary is great. The commentary is a musical itself. I highly suggest watching the show. When you do, be prepared to actually laugh.

As more of a teaser, here's the laundry day song. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More pictures

Nicole just sent me some more pictures of Carter. We're so excited about him that we figure everyone is as enamored with him as our family is . . .

Carter Craig Nelson

Little Carter Craig Nelson was born on Sunday at 7:34 pm weighing 5 lbs 9.4 oz and measuring 19 1/2 inches. He's healthy as a horse and both he and Nicole are doing fine.

We're so excited to have this little bundle join our family!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Gardening time

FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS my boss, Sam, has been telling me that I need a garden.When I protest that I don't have a place to put a garden as I've lived in apartments and now a townhouse, Sam always reminds me that there is a yard at the office. I've always had a reason not to put in a garden. My main reason was that I had nobody to help me tend it. Well, this year I can't use that as an excuse. My wonderful husband has "volunteered" to spend his days off weeding and watering and making sure our garden grows big. So I told Sam that this year we would have a garden at the office.

On Saturday, my Father-in-Law cut a garden for James and I. I'm so glad that he was willing to haul his rototiller over and spend two hours of his Saturday working so we can plant a garden.

I'm so excited to be able to plant the garden in the next few weeks and I'm even more excited to be able to harvest and eat the yummy tomatoes, squash, green beans, Swiss chard, peppers, and onions that we'll cultivate.