Measure 3 would create loopholes

2012-05-17T01:30:00Z Measure 3 would create loopholesBy JONELL BAKKE and MELISSA GILLETT Bismarck Tribune

The North Dakota Women’s Network serves as a catalyst for improving the lives of women. Our organization passed a resolution to stand against Measure 3 for the core reasons our mission implies.

The language of the measure will create loopholes due to the lack of protection for individuals’ civil rights.

What does this mean? It means people who break a law or discriminate against another person have a protected defense and that the state must prove (in court) otherwise.

If Measure 3 passes, it could allow a person to take advantage and use personal religious beliefs to claim the right to break important laws that are meant to protect all of us, like laws against abuse and discrimination.

For example, an employer could use religious beliefs to fire a pregnant woman because she is unmarried.

Let’s think this through. We now have a single mother unemployed and struggling to care for the welfare of her family. Her employer would have a protected defense for his action and a judge would have to determine otherwise.

Supporters of Measure 3 claim that concerns about abuse and discrimination aren’t warranted because the government has a compelling interest to protect victims in those situations. However, Measure 3 would mean the government would have to prove its case each and every time someone takes advantage of the law — giving those people the upper hand while taxpayers foot the bill for endless litigation. Most importantly, it would delay the state’s ability to protect women and children.

Measure 3 is worded very differently than laws in other states intended to protect religious freedom; it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

The truth is, Measure 3 could lead to endless litigation and serious, even harmful, consequences for North Dakotans.

(JoNell Bakke, Grand Forks, and Melissa Gillett, Tolna, are co-chairwomen of the North Dakota Women’s Network.)

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. charles
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    charles - May 21, 2012 9:01 am
    kal11usa said: "Thanks for the constructive response."Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..."So is the concern that this only applies to the US congress? At least if you take it at face value. I still don't see the point."

    In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed itself, holding that the First Amendment does not provide the highest level of protection for religious exercise claims if the law was generally applicable and neutral toward religion. By default, the lowest standard of protection came into effect: government does not need a compelling interest before infringing on religion. Congress restored the higher standard for federal laws. Measure 3 would restore it for state laws.

    In short, contrary to what people think, the First Amendment, as currently interpreted by the Court, does not provide much protection for religious freedom.
  2. kal11usa
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    kal11usa - May 19, 2012 1:01 pm
    charles said: "Wrong on both counts. The First Amendment does not provide this protection. Whatever protection the First Amendment provides applies to criminal defense as well."

    Thanks for the constructive response.

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..."

    So is the concern that this only applies to the US congress? At least if you take it at face value. I still don't see the point.
  3. 007
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    007 - May 19, 2012 8:09 am
    What Measure 3 does is give the right wing religious community a license to discriminate and abuse people even more than they already do, plain and simple.


    What really amazes me is the brazen hypocrisy. These right wing religious crusaders are the same people who are always screaming about less laws and less government, and now here they are, once again, pushing for more laws and more government.
  4. charles
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    charles - May 19, 2012 7:56 am
    kal11usa said: "So then what's the point? The 1st Amendment does the same thing too, without the criminal defense implications"

    Wrong on both counts. The First Amendment does not provide this protection. Whatever protection the First Amendment provides applies to criminal defense as well.
  5. kal11usa
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    kal11usa - May 19, 2012 12:15 am
    charles said: "These claims about clogging the courts are ridiculous. Measure 3 is the same standard that was used in North Dakota before 1990. It is the same standard used in most states. The writers' claims that Measure 3 is different is simply false. No lawyer who had done his or research would make that claim."

    So then what's the point? The 1st Amendment does the same thing too, without the criminal defense implications
  6. charles
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    charles - May 18, 2012 6:59 am
    These claims about clogging the courts are ridiculous. Measure 3 is the same standard that was used in North Dakota before 1990. It is the same standard used in most states. The writers' claims that Measure 3 is different is simply false. No lawyer who had done his or research would make that claim.
  7. Report Abuse
    - May 17, 2012 10:51 am
    Grammie: Thank you for your post. You make my point. Of course we do not expect a defendant claiming religious reasons for an honor killing to succeed, but the point is that that defense will be used, and the state is going to have to counter every defense based on religious reasons.

    The state is going to have to train all prosecutors in how to handle defenses based on religious reasons, and they are many. The cost is this training will be borne by taxpayers.

    No one has any evidence of anyone being forced to participate in an abortion in North Dakota. Catholic hospitals seem to be doing just fine without Measure 3. There is no legitimate reason to support Measure 3, and there are many reasons to oppose it.
  8. Point to Ponder
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    Point to Ponder - May 17, 2012 10:11 am
    The sky is not falling in business will still be opened,but a Dr. or nurse who chooses not to do an aboration will not be sued,a Catholic hospital will be able to be a Catholic hospital,and pharmacist will not have to fill birth control Rx's or morning after pill, if it is against his or her beliefs.

    And gays will marry and sue the state for not issuing a license based on their religious (not Christian) beliefs. Oh No, Grammie, GAYS! Didn't see that one coming! Go ahead, vote for this.
  9. grammie
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    grammie - May 17, 2012 8:55 am
    Honor killings? You have to be kidding me... The sky is not falling in business will still be opened,but a Dr. or nurse who chooses not to do an aboration will not be sued,a Catholic hospital will be able to be a Catholic hospital,and pharmacist will not have to fill birth control Rx's or morning after pill, if it is against his or her beliefs.Yes to those of you who think that OH No the world will come to an end,you will be able to get an aboration,and still get your birth control,(for acne of course) you might have to go to another pharamcy or ask for someone different to fill your prescription. Some people do with their whole heart and soul choose to follow God's Law and the Churchs teachings. This is what this bill is about.
  10. Point to Ponder
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    Point to Ponder - May 17, 2012 7:51 am
    What about the cases when an employee claims a religious right to refuse to work on religious holidays or days of worship? Think of the burden that will put on employers and employees who will be forced to work more than their share of weekend days?


    Absolutely. Sorry, but some people, like policemen, firemen, nurses, doctors, just to name a few, have to work on Sunday or Saturday, or Friday after sundown.

    There is a big difference between being discriminiated against and not getting your way all the time.
  11. 007
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    007 - May 17, 2012 6:36 am
    This measure is based on one's "sincerely held religious beliefs". What about the documented religious mandates laid out in the Holy Bible? The Bible promotes slavery, and instructs the masters how to treat their slaves. Therefore, according to this law, someone in ND could enslave someone, and it would be legal because it is based on something that actually goes far beyond a sincerely held religious belief. It's a documented religious mandate.

    God help us all if this measure becomes law.
  12. Report Abuse
    - May 17, 2012 6:12 am
    Measure 3 is a criminal defense lawyer's dream come true. There will be so many opportunities to claim a religious freedom issue and the burden will be on the government to prove otherwise. Religious beliefs will be used to justify everything from spousal and child abuse to honor killings, and much as we hope these defense strategies will fail, the burden and cost will fall on the taxpayers.

    The letter writers point out a scenario where an employer claims a religious right to discriminate against unmarried mothers. What about the cases when an employee claims a religious right to refuse to work on religious holidays or days of worship? Think of the burden that will put on employers and employees who will be forced to work more than their share of weekend days?

    Lloyd Omdahl has predicted Measure 3 will pass by a large margin because North Dakotans will think it is the way to show they are religious. He is probably right on that. Lloyd Omdahl also said Measure 3 is harmless. He is wrong on that.
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