5 Best Tuesday Columns
Why health care will survive, why lower taxes are morally right, why gay marriage isn't like tennis, and more
- Kenji Yoshino on the Best Argument Against Gay Marriage The popular argument that same-sex couples cannot naturally procreate--and therefore should not be allowed to marry--has been used once again by the lawyers defending California's Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban. A new article by Princeton professor Robert George and two graduate students defends the common procreation argument, but Slate's Kenji Yoshino suggests that using the ability to procreate as a standard of legitimacy for marriages does more to "diminish the institution of marriage itself" than to prove the faults of same-sex marriage. George et al. use sports analogies to argue that while same-sex relationships are like tennis (in that they are recreational and do not produce a child), opposite-sex couples who are unable to reproduce are more like a baseball team that plays but never wins. Yoshino responds, "I suspect it will be cold comfort to many infertile opposite-sex couples to hear that while their marriage is still 'real,' it is a 'losing' marriage as opposed to a 'winning' one. Ideally, most of them view their marriages as something more than honorable defeats and would despise the contention that they had not fulfilled the central purpose the institution. Moreover, the article says nothing of straight people who choose not to procreate. It is unclear why they would have 'true marriages,' as they are not even trying to win."
- William McGurn on the Moral Argument for Lower Taxes When Republicans make the case for lower taxes, they usually do so with "purely functional arguments," figures the Wall Street Journal columnist. That is, GOP legislators argue that higher taxes on millionaires "have a habit" of affecting "quite a few others" in lower tax brackets and will therefore bring less overall revenue to the government. While this is a "solid point," says McGurn, what Republicans really need to do is make a moral argument for lower taxes. They need to frame the issue as a matter of government "greed." It is not the rich, but rather the government who "whose appetite better warrants the word insatiable," he argues. "If Republicans hope to regain the moral high ground, they need to remind citizens that the argument for lower taxes and government that lives within its means is not an argument about numbers or federal revenues," it's an argument about "dreams and opportunities."
- Afua Hirsch on the Julian Assange Case and the European Arrest Warrant Much attention is focused on Julian Assange's recent arrest and pending extradition for trial in Sweden. The Guardian's Afua Hirsch argues that the WikiLeaks founder's arrest is an example of the improper use of the European arrest warrant, a legal tool created to bring cohesion across E.U. criminal justice systems in order to prosecute terrorism suspects in the wake of 9/11. She points out that since the Extradition Act passed in 2003, "around three people per day are now extradited from the U.K., and there is little to suggest that the majority are terrorists or serious criminals. In fact those involved in the process agree that many of the cases are 'trivial.'" Such trivial cases include a man who was recently extradited to Poland for overdrawing on his bank account and another, also sent to Poland, for stealing a dessert from a restaurant. The requirement of such countries as Poland, for example, to investigate and prosecute every criminal offense results in the U.K. "picking up the tab for police, court, experts' and lawyers time to process thousands of cases a year," not to mention the specially charted airplanes used to extradite them. Hirsch calls for the Assange case and the others mentioned to bring light to the fact that "the EAW is set on a collision course where the labyrinthine world of EU mutual recognition meets the reality of defendants' rights."
- Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius on Preserving Health Care Writing in The Washington Post, the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services downplay concerns that U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson's ruling yesterday spells the beginning of the end for the president's health care reform law. Hudson's ruling, which found the individual mandate unconstitutional, is simply "wrong on the law." The fact the law's opponents have resorted to positing "new constitutional theories and digging up old ones that were rejected 80 years ago" strikes Holder and Sebelius as nothing more than a sign of desperation: "It's not surprising that opponents, having lost in Congress, have taken to the courts. We saw similar challenges to laws that created Social Security and established new civil rights protections. Those challenges ultimately failed, and so will this one."
- Robert Wright on a UN Plan for Israel The United Nations created the state of Israel in 1947. Six decades later, says Wright in The New York Times, the international organization should pass a similar resolution creating a Palestinian state. Wright explains that the UN enjoys unique advantages that, utilized properly, would go a long way toward ensuring a lasting peace in the Middle East. "[The UN] can define the borders, set the timetable and lay down the rules for Palestinian elections (specifying, for example, that the winners must swear allegiance to a constitution that acknowledges Israel's right to exist)," argues Wright. Considering "how hopeless the current process is," turning to the United Nations would be pragmatic and provide "political cover" for President Obama, seeing as how "the current path involves Obama taking political heat every time he tries to move Netanyahu a few inches toward the goal line."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.