Law, sex and religion…

June 19, 2018

 National Post – Chris Selley
Supreme Court strikes a blow against religious freedom with Trinity Western decision – Canadian courts have long protected religious practices they believe to be sincerely held, not necessarily essential or commanded by scripture. This turned that on its head

The Supreme Court has ruled (7-2) that the requirement that potential law students at Trinity Western sign a covenant to refrain from sex except between married heterosexual couples is within the rights of the university and does not offend against the rights of the LGBTQ community.  However, the SCC also allowed to stand the BC, Nova Scotia and Ontario Law Society decision not to accredit Trinity law graduates.  Selley is critical and suggests that the decisions helped no one.   Related article: Globe and Mail – Michel Coren  Trinity Western ruling: a stand against harmful LGBTQ discrimination   CBC News – Anna Su  The Supreme Court has dismissed religious practice as a matter of mere choice in its TWU decision   Related article: CBC News – Peter Zimonjic   3 legal reactions to the Supreme Court’s Trinity Western University decision   Related article: Canadian Lawyer – Tim Wilbur   Supreme Court rules against TWU accreditation – Decision upholds B.C. and Ontario law societies’ right to reject grads from proposed Christian law school

Toronto Star – Laurie Monsebraaten
Child poverty linked to discrimination and systemic inequality, study suggests

Campaign 2000, a national anti-poverty coalition of 120 groups, was founded with a goal to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000.  Instead, the organization is still around and its latest report traces the causes of poverty to multiple factors common in inner cities.  “After decades of waiting for federal action, the first poverty-reduction strategy must ensure Canada stops only tallying the number of children in poverty and starts to number poverty’s days instead,” said Anita Khanna, Campaign 2000’s national co-ordinator.”   Related article:  National Newswatch – Jordan Press, Canadian Press    In Bill Morneau’s riding, 40 per cent of children live in poverty, report says

CNN – Susan Scutti
WHO classifies ‘gaming disorder’ as mental health condition

The World Health Organization has defined ‘gaming’ as a health disorder and an addiction leading to loss of personal control.  “The World Health Organization announced “gaming disorder” as a new mental health condition included in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases, released Monday.”  The real question is how to live without technology since clearly in today’s world there is no escape from digital technology and absence is impossible.   Related article: CBC News – Associated Press    WHO declares compulsive video gaming a mental disorder   Related article: The Conversation – Digital addiction: how technology keeps us hooked

Centre for Crime and Justice (UK) – Penelope Gibbs
Domestic violence prosecutions clumsy and costly

Gibbs is arguing that the recent justice reform in the UK leans towards accepting that more trails and convictions, and longer sentences – a new statutory aggravating factor to increase sentences – and that those measures have not and do not work to reduce domestic violence.  Here’s the crux of her argument:  “But if criminal sanctions (according to the College of Policing) have no effect on reoffending, I wonder why we place such emphasis on prosecuting domestic abuse?  And why, if short prison sentences increase offending, courts are encouraged to use them? The criminal justice process is fantastically expensive, is, and probably always will be, stressful for victims, and abusers end up with a sentence which does not address their abusive behaviour. Surely the resources eaten up by the criminal justice process could be better spent on out of court disposals, support for victims (including refuges) and effective perpetrator programmes? The government says they want to increase sentences to “give a clear acknowledgement of the negative impact domestic abuse can have”. But the law is a very clumsy and costly means of signalling societal disapproval, particularly if it has no effect on reoffending.”  Makes sense to redirect funds to better community driven solutions…   Related article:  Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)(Scotland) –  Maureen Mansfield   What is Abolitionist Feminism, and why does it matter?- An insight into why we might privilege social justice, over criminal justice   (Ed note: there are a number of sites identified in the UK for their advocacy for women in prison and the abandonment of building more prisons.)

CNN (US) – Meg Wagner and Brian Ries
What’s happening at the US border

Many are puzzled first and then outraged at the deliberate pursuit of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy that removes infants and children from the parents – over 2,000 acknowledged to date but advocates are suggesting as many as 11,000 with holding centres filled to over-flowing and much confusion around just what prompts detention and what prompts asylum.  What remains clear is that the separations are a policy, not a law, on the part of Sessions and Trump and the children are being used as a pressure point.  Critics from widespread and diverse perspectives are offering these tactics as torture and a violation of human rights.

Canadian Lawyer – Dale Smith
Jury selection report shows system biased, say lawyers

A report by Ontario Superior Court Justice Giovanna Toscano Roccamo has defence lawyers wondering what next.  Completed while on study leave and focusings on  Belleville (ON) Judge Roccamo deliberately did not offer any analysis or recommendations.  Solomon Friedman of the Defence Lawyers Association suggests that the selection of juries based on property tax rolls excludes a large number of citizens who simply don’t appear on the list.  “It provides objective empirical data [that] proves that white, wealthy, home-owning Ottawans are exponentially more likely to be chosen for a jury than poor, racialized people living in rental or community housing,” says Friedman.

The Guardian (UK) (US Desk) – Shannon Sims
The end of American prison visits: jails end face-to-face contact – and families suffer

The Guardian is anticipating the point at which face-to-face visits with loved ones in prison will be no longer available.  The incident here describes the decision at Jefferson Parish Correctional Center which passed a pamphlet to a visitor saying that as of that visit, future visits  would only be by Skype at $12.99 per 20 minutes.  “Under the new system, in-person visits are no longer allowed. Instead, all visits now must be done by video, either from a smartphone, computer, or at an offsite location.”  Sims says that literally hundreds of correctional facilities – an estimated 600 plus to date -are already operating the new Securus Technologies system.  It’s for security and convenience, of course.