Dunce Cap Department

The cardinal mocked a secular culture that “seems to discover new rights every day.”

“I don’t recall a right to marriage,” he said, describing marriage, instead, as a “call.”

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, 2012


Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

Loving v. Virginia, 1967

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

12 thoughts on “Dunce Cap Department”

  1. Zablocki v. Redhail:


    Reaffirming holding in Loving and citing numerous other precedents regarding the rights attendant to private life, including the right to marry free of state laws that unfairly circumscribe that right. (The interest, requiring the payment of child support, was compelling — refusing to grant a marriage license was not narrowly tailored and not necessary to effectuate that interest, when the state had other, more targeted and less restrictive means at its disposal).

    This is one of the things that opponents of gay marriage fail to understand. Even if the state has a compelling interest in protecting heterosexual marriage, it has so many more direct and less restrictive means to promote that interest than disallowing marriage among gays and depriving them of their civil liberties (if depriving someone of civil liberties could ever be used as a permissible means to promote the welfare of wholly independent third parties).

  2. As a 55 year old, it sure seems to me like we’re going crazy creating rights and stuff – just more and more every time I look around. In the short time I’ve been alive, we discovered a right for black folks to attend public schools with whites, marry whites and work anywhere they’re qualified. But wait, there’s more – women now have a “right” to work anywhere they’re qualified, to make decisions about pregnancy and birth control, and to sign contracts in their own name! My damn head’s spinning and I haven’t even got to the new rights of gays to work anywhere they’re qualified – even the Army! – and in some states, the right to marry. My God, when will it stop? I mean, a little evolution is fine, but all these changes in a mere half a century is just too fast! And what’s even worse, as all these new rights have been created, my rights have stayed the same. How is that fair? What kind of world will it be when a middle-class white male has no greater rights than anyone else?

  3. The Catholic Hierarchy seems to be possessed of a death wish. There seems to be no public issue that they won’t push their way into, displaying at all times their unique combination of ignorance, dishonesty, and overwhelming self-regard. A half-century of catastrophic pastoral failure, and the revelation that several Cardinals and Bishops seem to have committed multiple felonies in order to protect pedophiles and sexual predators doesn’t seem to have dented their serene faith in their own moral superiority. They also don’t seem to have noticed that the vast majority of American Catholics simply ignore the Bishop’s commands, regarding them as irrelevant at best. And in most of Europe, of course, people have just quit going to their churches altogether

    1. They are able to remain in a state of denial because flunkeys like E.J. Dionne are willing to let them off the hook.

      1. There’s also a selection-bias thing going on here, much as there is for CEOs and members of the financial industry. Catholic priests (and lay brothers and sisters) who aren’t serenely or even combatively OK with comforting the powerful and treading on the afflicted haven’t been moving up the ranks much in the past 30 years. The ones for whom these things were difficult moral issues are mostly long gone.

        1. Which is why people like Garry Wills are important if there will ever be any change. E.J. Dionne’s (and others, it must be said) willingness to humour bishops in their most destructive delusions to the point that they would actually endorse trying to require the government to impose those delusions on unwilling citizens through tax and employment laws is noxious and intolerable.

  4. Someone please remind me again, which branch of government includes Bishops? I must have been absent from class that day.

  5. Apparently the U.S. House of Representatives. Although my copy of the Constitution says sweet F.A. about clergy being a branch of gummint.

Comments are closed.