Required to stand for the Pledge?

RJLipkin at RJLipkin at
Sat Sep 11 08:05:31 PDT 2004

In a message dated 9/11/2004 2:09:56 AM Eastern Standard Time,  
TCBERG at writes:
The  government  "decide[s] what shall be orthodox in
politics" all the  time, in the sense of advancing policies and attempting to
convince the  public that they are right.  

        Although, I haven't read  the article, I think it is conceptually 
inaccurate to conflate what is  "orthodox" with "advancing policies and 
attempting to convince the public  that [the government] is right." The idea of 
"orthodoxy," as its used typically  in religion (for example, Orthodox Judaism) as 
well as in secular contexts,  connotes canonical belief that is not subject to 
challenge. Advancing policies,  etc, as I understand it, carries no such 
obligation.  I do not  see how questions of orthodoxy arise, when, for example, 
President Bush  asks us to accept the view that lowering taxes is the right policy 
 choice.  Sure he wants to convince us that he's empirically correct in  
connecting lower taxes to more jobs, etc, in this context and perhaps in most  
contexts.  However, the question of orthodoxy or heresy doesn't seem  to arise.  
The President is not (or should not be) articulating some  standard of 
fidelity, he's simply saying that he is right about an economic  controversy. Indeed, 
as I've understood American constitutionalism, perhaps  erroneously, fidelity 
to constitutional government is not even orthodoxy in the  sense that one is 
free to argue against its desirability. A particular  administration might 
declare certain values as the canonical  values, but merely arguing for a 
particular policy choice  doesn't itself entail that the government is doing so.  
Sure there  will be difficult cases.  But the difficulty of deciding whether 
certain  government pronouncements are attempts to establish orthodox commitments 
or  merely policy choices doesn't negate the general utility of this 
distinction, or  so it seems to me.
Robert Justin  Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener University School of  Law

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the Religionlaw mailing list