One of the many stories that grew out of John F. Kennedy’s aborted term as President has to do with an idle question put to him by a reporter aboard Air Force One. What would happen, the reporter wondered, if the plane went down, killing all on board?
Long ago scholars identified the arches and loops of John Locke’s fingerprints on the writings of James Madison. Evidence of this influence is often noted in Madison’s espousal of Lockean liberalism in the arguments set forth in the Federalist, particularly Federalist, No. 51. That Madison benefited from Locke’s analysis of the machine of government and its relationship to the virtue of a people is indisputable, but to describe all Madisonian philosophy as some sort of diluted mimicry of Lockean principles is lazy and incorrect. Madison, it has been said, was a “profoundly original thinker” and “no mere follower of the philosophers.” The design of this article, however, is not to expose the originality of Madison’s thinking; rather it is to note how in regard to his view of religious toleration (a term Madison despised as being, as Thomas Paine said, “not the opposite of intolerance, but the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it.”)
Same-sex married couples find themselves confronted by federal law when it comes to federal benefits. When these couples attempt to add their "spouses" to their federal healthcare plan, they are rejected, simply because while individual states may recognize same-sex unions, federal law does not. Joanne Pederson and Ann Meitzen have experienced this obstacle first-hand, and as a result, intend to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage.
The Pledge of Allegiance is often a controversial and, unfortunately, an unwelcome component in the public arena. Last month, on two separate occasions, guests at congressional political debates were angered by the hosts’ unwillingness to begin the debates with the Pledge of Allegiance and took matters into their own hands by standing up and reciting it themselves. Most disputes regarding the Pledge of Allegiance follow similar story lines, with one group opposed to reciting the Pledge and another in support of it. In the North Collins school district of upstate New York, however, the debate over the Pledge of Allegiance takes on a unique twist.