California Lawyer


December 2013

Religious Rights
It's nice to see my civ pro professor [James A. Sonne] striking a pose on your September cover. The well-written "Defending the Faithful," on Stanford's Religious Liberty Clinic, raises some issues worthy of discussion. For example, Pastor Sam Gallucci's commendable service to the poor is a shining example of living Christ's message, but is it religious practice, per se? (We Catholics call it a corporal work of mercy.) And if we do call it religious practice, I argue that the church's right ends where the local homeowners' property rights begin.

Speaking of interfering with others' rights, I agree with Sonne's argument against forcing employers to indulge employees' religious practices. I found it ironic, then, that Sonne's clinic is now defending Seventh-Day Adventists who wish to punish an employer for firing them for not working on their Sabbath. Also, just because some- thing is a religious practice, is it necessarily a good? For example, certain Mormon cults advocate polygamy as part of their religious faith, notwithstanding 2,000 years of Christian civilization's rejection of the practice for its tendency to degrade women.

I found richly ironic the clinic's defense of the Muslim congregation. The clinic's work is financed by the Becket Fund, a group named (presumably) after the great saint. Now the clinic uses its finances to protect the religious liberty of Muslims, whose religion viciously opposes that same liberty for non-Muslims. The clinic's role in defending religious liberty appears sound in principle. Let's just remember that we don't want to protect one right at the expense of any other.
James A. Smith, Walnut Creek

The Good Fight
What an incredibly inspirational piece ["Prosecutor without Borders," September], and what an incredibly courageous, strong, and motivating attorney and woman. Almudena Bernabeu's story reminds us why we went to law school in the first place - to make positive change in the world. Keep up the great work! Adelante!
Gregory Ramirez, Ventura

From Envy to Disgrace
Kudos to Dan Grunfeld for his column on funding the judicial system ["Dear Governor Brown," At Large, September]. Someone is finally writing what all lawyers are or should be saying.

Governor Brown crows about a balanced budget while the state flounders, and our judicial system has gone from being the envy of the nation to a national disgrace.
Harold B. Glassberg, San Francisco

Letters on Letters
I agree with Benjamin Pavone's position regarding guns in his letter to the editor [September] in response to "The Fight Over Guns" [Legally Speaking, June]. In the wake of mass shootings, guns are being blamed and there is an outcry for gun control or outright banning.

My daughter was the victim of a crazed gunman who shot and killed three individuals. She narrowly escaped with catastrophic injuries. I continue to believe, however, in my constitutional right to own a gun. I am in favor of "gun control" as long as I am the one in control of the gun.

I keep a loaded pistol next to my bed. My weapons are legal, registered, and I know how to use them. I would not hesitate to protect myself or my loved ones. Outlaws have guns and always will. I want to level the playing field. Please, people: Guns are not the problem. People are.
Jayne Kelly Nordstrom, San Francisco

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