NFL Anthem Kneeling is Back, With a Twist




A dozen Cleveland Browns took a knee Monday night as the national anthem was played prior to the Brown’s kickoff against the New York Giants in a nationally televised preseason Monday Night Football game.

Last season, Colin Kaepernick (in)famously sat through the national anthem in a preseason game.  After the game, he explained, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  His protest generated a firestorm of both criticism and applause.  Other NFL players and athletes in a variety of different sports soon began following Kaepernick’s lead, kneeling through the national anthem.

With the NFL preseason back, it appears the kneeling is also back.  But in post-game interviews, the 12 Browns who kneeled through the anthem didn’t say they were refusing to “stand up and show pride.”  They were praying.



“We just decided to take a knee and pray for the people who have been affected [by racial and social injustices] and just pray for the world in general,” Browns rookie Jabrill Peppers said in comments reported by ESPN.  He added, “We were not trying to disrespect the flag or be a distraction to the team, but as men we thought we had the right to stand up for what we believed in and demonstrate that.”

Linebacker Christian Kirksey, who reportedly led the prayer, said in comments also reported by ESPN, “We did it out of respect.  No disrespect for anyone, we just felt like it was the right time and the need to do it.”

Not only was the Browns’ kneeling unique in its prayerful attitude, it also featured the first white NFL player to kneel through the anthem.  Tight end Seth DeValve, whose wife, Erica, is African-American, said, “I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise [my children] in a better environment than we have right now.  So I wanted to take the opportunity with my teammates during the anthem to pray for our country and also to draw attention to the fact that we have work to do.”

He emphasized his love for the country and the anthem, and added, “I’m very grateful for the men and women who have given their lives and give a lot every day to protect this country and serve this country. I want to honor them as much as I can.”  But, to DeValve, “[T]he issue is that [the United States] doesn’t provide equal opportunity to everybody.”

So what should conservatives make of this? Colin Kaepernick’s protest was met mostly with criticism from the right. Although all acknowledged and some defended his right to express himself under the First Amendment, many argued that sitting or kneeling through the national anthem was not the right way to express political thought. For the critics, the national anthem represents primarily a sign of respect to the country and the men and women in our armed services who defend our First Amendment rights.  In that light, Kaepernick’s protest was a sign of disrespect to the very country and people that defend his right to speak freely.

But what of the Browns’ prayer? The players themselves spoke of their love and respect for our country and the men and women who serve it.  They declared that they meant no disrespect to the country or to those men and women.  Rather, they said, they knelt in prayer for a better world.  They did it in a visible way as a witness to their faith and as a way to generate attention on their prayer. That’s a far cry from Kaepernick’s defiant refusal to “stand up and show pride.”

As a lifelong Browns fan (yes, we exist), I’ve many times prayed for the Browns:  “God, please let us not draft a quarterback in the first round”; “God, if we could just win eight two games this season, that would be really swell”; etc. Needless to say, these prayers have gone largely unanswered.

But today I find myself praying not for, but with the Browns. Faced with the Charlottesville-dominated headlines of the past week-and-counting, I myself have taken to prayer for our country and our fellow Americans. I have prayed for God’s comfort for the people in our country who have felt like they’ve experienced racism, hatred, and injustice. I’ve prayed for God’s guidance for our leaders, that they would lead us into a less race-obsessed, more loving, and more just society. I’ve asked God to show me the ways in which I contribute to the ills in our society and guide me into helping to heal those ills.

Conservatives have long been frustrated by the identity-politics of the left. In many ways it seems like a great con: claim to be the only ones who recognize that the source of a problem is identity driven and then claim that the left’s leaders are the only ones who can solve the problem.

But recent events have shown that there are a great number of people in this country who honestly feel that they have experienced racism, hatred, and injustice.  The small but increasingly vocal alt-right is doing nothing but provoking that feeling.

As for expressing all of this during the anthem, the principled response it to let the players decide. Last season’s protest generated a backlash from fans. If players want to accept the backlash and express themselves in this way, let them. That’s the essence of the First Amendment.

Conservatives make a fair point that perhaps there is a way to express these feelings and offer these prayers without the apparent disrespect to our country and those who serve it. But with the attention that these demonstrations are getting, maybe there isn’t.

As a conservative, but most importantly as a Christian, I believe that I need to humble myself and recognize that there are people in our country who are truly hurting.  I don’t think I would agree with many on the left as to the best way to heal those wounds. I might not always even agree with their diagnosis of what’s causing those wounds. But nothing is more American or more Christian than to respect our neighbors’ right to express their hurt and to join them in prayer for a better world.

Washington Supreme Court Makes Case for RFRAs

The Washington Supreme Court today decided that Arlene’s Flowers and its owner Barronelle Stutzman violated the state’s anti-discrimination law when the florist refused to sell flowers to a same-sex couple for their upcoming wedding. Stutzman and her lawyers had argued that the law did not apply to this conduct. Even if it did, they argued that it unconstitutionally burdened the freedoms of speech, religion, and association. The Washington Supreme Court rejected each of these arguments.

The outcome should trouble all people of faith, particularly conservatives. The result of a decision like this is that proprietors like Stutzman now will have to violate their consciences or go out of business.

But the most troubling part of the decision is not the outcome. It’s that the decision has a solid legal foundation.

We conservatives tend to lionize Justice Antonin Scalia, and for good reason. But in 1990 Justice Scalia penned a majority opinion for the Supreme Court which directly led to the outcome in today’s Arlene’s Flowers decision.

In Employment Division v. Smith, the Court considered whether an Oregon law which withheld unemployment benefits from individuals who had been fired for misconduct—such as using illegal drugs—unconstitutionally burdened the rights of two Native Americans who had sacramentally taken peyote. Rather than apply strict scrutiny to the law and facts, as had been done in similar cases in the past, the Court decided to use the rational basis test. Using that test, the Court decided Oregon’s law did not unconstitutionally burden the free exercise of religion.

The difference in the level of scrutiny is a little inside baseball, but it makes all the difference. Strict scrutiny requires the government to convince the court that there is a compelling governmental interest for a law that outweighs the burden placed on a religious practice by the law. If it can’t, the law cannot be applied to the religious practice.

The rational basis test, on the other hand, requires citizens to convince the court that a law burdening their religious practice has no logical or permissible underpinning whatsoever. If they can’t, the law is applied to them, despite their religious practice.

It’s almost impossible for the government to pass strict scrutiny. And it’s almost impossible for citizens to win under the rational basis test. Strict scrutiny almost always results in a ruling for the citizens. Rational basis almost always results in a ruling for the government.

That’s exactly what happened in today’s State v. Arlene’s Flowers. Using Employment Division v. Smith as its guide, the Washington Supreme Court decided to use the rational basis test. Once it did, that was the ball game. Arlene’s Flowers lost.

Understanding that Employment Division v. Smith ushered in the potential for this kind of outcome, Congress almost unanimously—only three Senators voted against it—passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (commonly referred to as RFRA and given the pronunciation “rifra”).

RFRA basically reversed the decision in Employment Division v. Smith. It requires courts to apply strict scrutiny to all questions of whether laws violate the right to free exercise of religion in the First Amendment. As written, RFRA applied to both federal and state laws.

But in 1997 the Supreme Court heard City of Boerne v. Flores. In that case, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio challenged local historic preservation laws that prohibited the expansion of a Roman Catholic church building. The archdiocese claimed that the laws unconstitutionally burdened the free exercise of religion, and asked the Court to apply the strict security test required by RFRA.

Instead, the Supreme Court held that RFRA could not constitutionally apply to state laws. In a stroke of federalism, the Court decided that Congress lacked the power to impose RFRA on the states. The decision returned the state of the law in the states to the law handed down in Employment Division v. Smith.

States, of course, may pass their own religious freedom restoration acts. Many—including, famously, Vice President Pence’s home state of Indiana—have. But for states like Washington, which has not adopted a religious freedom restoration act, Employment Division v. Smith rules. And in that status quo, outcomes like the one in today’s State v. Arlene’s Flowers are nearly inevitable.

So what are conservatives to do? Pass state religious freedom restoration acts. Prior to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, 20 states had religious freedom restoration acts. After that decision, 16 states introduced legislation to adopt religious freedom restoration acts, but only two of those have been passed.

If states are going to pass and impose laws leading to outcomes like the one in today’s Washington Supreme Court case, people of faith and conservatives can fight back with religious freedom restoration acts. That’s exactly what we should do.

Sierra Club Believes Abortion Helps the Environment

The executive director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune, appeared on Tucker Carlson’s program on the Fox News Channel Thursday night. During his conversation he told Carlson that the folks at the Sierra Club:

[B]elieve in empowering women’s rights. We believe that women who have rights and who have the ability to have choice about their reproductive—make their own reproductive choices—will help to produce strong families and will help to protect the environment at the same time. Sierra Club is pro-choice.”

That’s not necessarily a surprise coming from the Sierra Club, which officially is an environmental group, but which lends support to all sorts of different left-wing political causes. Brune, however, took the Club’s support for abortion one step further, saying:

[I]t helps to address the number of the people that we have on this planet. We feel that one of the ways in which we can get to a sustainable population is to empower women to make choices about their own families.”

For anyone who has studied progressivism’s ugly history, even this is not a surprise. This kind of thinking is anchored in the materialistic, deterministic world view, which underlies the progressive political philosophy. This world view carries with it the capacity to deem “moral” or even “necessary” anything which ushers in a material state of the world that is deemed desirable, also known as “progress.”

In today’s progressivism, a chief material goal is to achieve an environment that is as close as possible to “natural”—which is often code for humanless, or at least devoid of certain of humankind’s technological advances, such as cars, plastics, and our ability to harness energy from coal, natural gas, and oil. For Brune and other progressive environmentalists, anything which gets us closer to that state of the environment has the capacity to be “moral.” To the extent abortion reduces human impact on the planet’s environment, it apparently is a moral good for the Sierra Club.

Let’s take a second to consider just how extreme that is. Brune is arguing that it is good not only to avoid overpopulation through means like contraception, abstinence, and delaying marriage and pregnancy until men and women are economically established and responsible, but also to avoid overpopulation by the killing of existing, innocent human life. For anyone who is pro-life, this should be revolting.

And for pro-life people who hold to a Judeo-Christian world view, this attempt to justify abortion for the sake of the environment should be especially revolting. It is a complete perversion of the first commandment given by God to humans: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 NKJV).

God’s very first commandment is therefore for us to reproduce. It of course is true that in the same sentence, God commands us to “fill the earth and subdue it” and to exercise “dominion” over the earth. That absolutely means that we must exercise responsible stewardship of the earth’s resources. But any world view which advocates the killing of innocent human life as a means of exercising that stewardship completely perverts God’s commandment. This kind of thinking further demonstrates just how out of touch progressives are with the morality of people in Middle America.

JUST IN: Cincinnati Becomes A Sanctuary City

On Monday, January 30, Mayor John Cranley of the City of Cincinnati, Ohio held a press conference to announce that Cincinnati would officially consider itself a “sanctuary city.” Monday’s announcement is largely for show, as official city policy already requires local law enforcement officials to avoid actively involving themselves in immigration enforcement.

As reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer and USA Today, local law enforcement was already prohibited from stopping, detaining, questioning, or arresting a person solely on the basis that the individual may have unlawfully entered the country or overstayed a visa. Cincinnati was also already providing identification cards to illegal immigrants. Perhaps most aggressively, last November Cincinnati created an online portal to help illegal immigrants get jobs and access to education.

To the extent sanctuary cities actively impede federal authorities from enforcing laws, and to the extent sanctuary cities themselves violate federal laws that are constitutionally binding upon them, conservatives can and should actively oppose them. One such law is codified as Section 1373 of Title 18 of the United States Code. That section requires that no local jurisdiction can actively “restrict law-enforcement officials from communicating with federal immigration authorities regarding an individual’s citizenship or immigration status,” as Alexandra Descantis explains in National Review. Based on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s report, it appears Cincinnati does not necessarily go so far as to run afoul of 18 U.S.C. § 1373, although no attempt was made to verify whether that inference is fair or accurate.

These more subversive actions of sanctuary cities aside, one component of the sanctuary city phenomenon involves the level to which local law enforcement officers actively implement federal immigration law. Under current law, local jurisdictions may, but are not required, to enter into agreements with federal authorities to enforce immigration laws. Local jurisdictions are compensated for their cooperation. This is a common scheme for the implementation of federal policy, often illustrated with the metaphor of a carrot leading a horse. The federal government dangles some funding—the carrot—out in front of the local jurisdiction—the horse—in an attempt to lead the jurisdiction to implement the desired policy.

Because of the potential of such a scheme to smother local decision-making, federal courts, including the Supreme Court in several high profile cases, have carefully scrutinized this technique. The scrutiny comes with another great metaphor: if the federal government is too aggressive with its coaxing, what was presented as a carrot by the federal government is seen as a stick by the courts. The principle animating the scrutiny is preservation of federalism. The federal government is within its powers to coax local governments to implement certain policies, but it oversteps the bounds of federalism when it “commandeers” local officials or effectively takes away local governments’ decision-making prerogative. While the specific decision not to enforce immigration laws may rightly bother us conservatives, we nevertheless should recognize our appreciation for the principle of federalism, which gives Cincinnati and other sanctuary cities the space to make such a decision.

Some of the most recent high profile examples of this scrutiny show that principled conservatism and fidelity to federalism in action require resistance to federal commandeering and overly aggressive coaxing. For example, in Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act was unconstitutional. The Act put into effect a requirement that the United States Attorney General establish a system for conducting background checks on prospective handgun purchasers. It further required the chief law enforcement officer of local jurisdictions to conduct the checks and implement the system. Counties in Arizona and Montana resisted implementation of the law. In the majority opinion striking down the law, Justice Scalia wrote:

We held [previously] that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case-by-case weighting of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”

Thus the federal government cannot use a stick to compel local jurisdictions to implement federal policy.

More recently, federal commandeering of local jurisdictions became an issue in the first Supreme Court case to consider Obamacare: National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius. Although in the dissent, Justice Scalia again wrote on the importance of federalism and the constraints federalism puts on the federal government’s ability to commandeer local jurisdictions. Unlike the Brady Bill in Printz, Obamacare does not directly command local implementation of a federal policy. Instead, massive amounts of funding from the federal government were conditioned on States “choosing” to implement Obamacare within their boundaries.

For Justice Scalia, the truth was clear:

The principal practical obstacle that prevents Congress from using the tax-and-spend power to assume all the general-welfare responsibilities traditionally exercised by the States is the sheer impossibility of managing a Federal Government large enough to administer such a system. That obstacle can be overcome by granting funds to the States, allowing them to administer the program. That is fair and constitutional enough when the States freely agree to have their powers employed and their employees enlisted in the federal scheme. But it is a blatant violation of the constitutional structure when the States have no choice.”

Thus the federal government can use a carrot to coax local jurisdictions to implement federal policy, but a proper understanding of federalism requires a limit to that authority. Local jurisdictions must be left with an effective choice.

Commentators in both left-leaning and right-leaning media have recently suggested that progressives have re-discovered federalism under Republican control of the federal government. Cincinnati’s decision to declare itself a sanctuary city strikes me as further evidence of that suggestion. By declaring that it will not actively implement federal laws, despite the enticing carrot it could have if it did, Cincinnati declares that local decision-making matters in our federal system. It declares that the federal government is limited in scope and authority. Those declarations should ring true to conservatives who prize federalism, no matter how much we disagree with the substance of the decision. That’s the silver lining of sanctuary cities for conservatives.

If it is true that progressives are coming home to federalism, I enthusiastically welcome them. I only hope that once the federal government is again controlled by elected officials sharing their views, they will remember their dalliance with federalism and remain principled enough to continue to advocate it.

Which brings me to the principal conservative case for not overreacting to sanctuary cities. For at least the last eight years, conservatives have not had effective control of the federal government. During those eight years we championed federalism, even going so far as to prosecute federal lawsuits resisting the implementation of certain federal policies by states and local governments. With control over the federal government now vested in Republican (albeit not necessarily “conservative”) lawmakers and executive officials, we must resist the temptation to betray our fidelity to federalism in favor of exercising power to get results we like.

It’s a prisoner’s dilemma, and the only way to stop progressives from “punishing” conservatives by abandoning federalism when they are in power is to choose not to “punish” progressives by abandoning federalism while it is our turn. That sentiment is not in vogue, and I suspect the President’s most loyal supporters would disagree. But to the extent we wish to advance a principled conservatism in the future, we must resist the temptation to abandon principle in exchange for results.

Forget 2020, New Poll Has Warren In Trouble In 2018

Based on the public reaction, this weekend’s Women’s March in Washington, DC and other cities has to some degree consoled American leftists in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Further emboldened by the comparatively small crowd size at President Trump’s inauguration, the Left has gone from utter despair to a slightly more hopeful demeanor.

But perhaps not all is as it seems. As my colleague Darrick Johnson here at The Resurgent wrote on Monday, the crowd size at the inauguration should give Democrats pause, not boldness. As Darrick writes:

What should terrify Democrats is [] that with all of President Trump’s baggage, and a divided Republican Party, he still won. [ . . . ] Leaked emails revealed that Democrat leadership thought (understandably) that Trump would be the easiest opponent for them in the fall.   Friday’s small crowd showed that they were probably right. If I were a Democrat, that would be a terrifying thought.”

Then there was this from the sultan of statistics, Nate Silver. On Monday, Silver took to his FiveThirtyEight website to remind democrats that although the Women’s March was “among the largest mass protests in American history,” the:

[G]eographic distribution of the marches also echoed November’s election results, in which Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College despite receiving almost 3 million more votes than Trump nationwide. About 80 percent of march attendees were in states Clinton won, and a disproportionate amount were in major cities. So if the marches were a reminder of the depth of opposition to Trump—unprecedented for a president so early in his term—they also reflected Democrats’ need to expand the breadth of their coalition if they are to make a comeback in 2018 and 2020.”

The lesson being offered to Democrats in the statistics, for Silver, is that “[t]he Democratic Party needs broader geographic appeal than what it has right now.”

But Democrats’ problems may go even deeper than broadening geographic appeal. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA), one of the heroes of the progressive wing of the Party, may be in trouble in her senatorial re-election bid in 2018. RedSate reports on a telephone survey published by WBUR in Boston that found that only 44 percent thought Warren “deserved reelection,” while 46 percent thought voters should “give someone else a chance.”

Worse for Warren, WBUR found that only 29 percent thought someone other than incumbent Governor Charlie Baker (R) should get a chance at the governor’s office. Warren also enjoys a favorable view among only 12 percent of Republicans, while Baker commands a favorable view among 60 percent of Democrats. As RedState points out, Warren’s problem appears to be less about incumbency, and more about her and her party. All of this in the urban, coastal Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The lackluster response to the inauguration, the geographic concentration of the Women’s March in leftist strongholds, and Senator Warren’s trouble in the polls should have Democrats worried, introspective, and considering significant changes in course. The fact that the Democrats are none of these things, but instead are doubling down on the same policies and practices that led them to this point should have Republicans encouraged and emboldened.

Mr. President, Stop Winking at Them

In his inaugural address in Washington, President Trump used the term “America First.” As Joe Concha at The Hill reports, the term carries disgusting baggage from the 1930s. ABC’s Terry Moran in reaction explained:

“[…] it carries with it overtones from the 1930s, when an anti-Semitic movement [said], ‘We don’t want to get involved in Europe’s war. It’s the Jews’ fault in Germany!’”

In fairness, both The Hill report and Moran acknowledged that President Trump has explained his definition of the term as something much different from the anti-Semitism of the 1930s. According to a speech this summer, the President defines “America First” as applying to fighting unfair foreign competition.

But why does the President keep winking like this? Yochi Dreazen at Vox.com detailed many of these nods back in October. In one example, Trump, in a speech last October in Florida described a:

“[G]lobal power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”

Then there was the vile treatment of Julia Ioffe after she profiled Melania Trump, and Mrs. Trump’s reaction that Ioffe had “provoked it.” There was the President’s retweet from the Twitter handle “@WhiteGenocideTM.”

​None of this is to say that President Trump has himself acted in anti-Semitic ways or directly promoted anti-Semitic policies or rhetoric. In fact, he has called for the Iran nuclear deal to be ripped up, and he has said he will pursue moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. So why keep winking like this?
​Josh Hammer this morning posted a stirring piece here at The Resurgent which called for all of us in the classically liberal, traditionally American conservative camp to stand on principle. He called for us to put away #NeverTrump, but not to adopt #AlwaysTrump at the cost of our principle.

Well, here’s one principle we must stand on: anti-Semitism has no place in a free American society; it has no place in the Republican Party; and it has no place in the conservative movement. I don’t doubt that President Trump’s intentions with the phrase “America First,” were pure. I don’t doubt that he truly wants to define a new American policy in which American economic, fiscal, defense, and sovereignty come, yes, first, over the interests of foreign countries. What better way to sum that up than “America First”?
​And yet, in the classic (and hilarious) episode of HBO’s Veep in which Vice President Meyer goes to get frozen yoghurt, we get a glimpse into just how calculated, manufactured, and polished everything national politicians do publicly is. If (fictional) Vice President Meyer’s staff can analyze and overanalyze what message getting mint, swirl, or strawberry frozen yoghurt sends, someone on President Trump’s staff can catch when the President might be winking at people he ought not. That person needs to start doing a better job, and the President personally ought to see to it.

No, Obama Did Not “Save Chelsea Manning’s Life”

The Hill.com Tuesday evening reported on an interview between Greta Van Susteren and Chase Strangio, an attorney for Chelsea Manning.  In the interview, Strangio confided that he felt that President Obama’s commutation of Manning’s sentence may have saved her life.  And according to The Hill, he added, “President Obama acted on the side of justice here.”

Justice.

President Obama’s midnight pardons and commutations have set off a frenzy of reactions on both sides of the political aisle (of which this piece is of course guilty of being).  Many on the right have pointed out that Manning’s deliberate leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks almost certainly put United States intelligence assets in danger, if not of torture and death, almost certainly of imprisonment.

That’s not to mention the damage the disclosure of intelligence gathering patterns and techniques does to the American intelligence community’s future effectiveness.  And that says nothing still of the costs—in terms of money and time—the leak likely caused American intelligence agencies to incur in securing assets, combing for counter-intelligence, and pulling the plug on all operations endangered by the leak.

Until yesterday, apparently, the Obama administration agreed that Manning’s actions had endangered America and its allies.  That was the basis for prosecuting the case.

Reports of the President’s actions by left-leaning media have downplayed these costs and dangers, citing the fact that prosecuting attorneys did not—and by law could not—disclose the types of damage Manning’s leak caused.  They highlight the same facts highlighted by Strangio in his interview with Van Susteren: Manning has already been jailed for about seven years (though not officially sentenced until 2013), that’s longer than anyone else has been imprisoned for leaking government secrets, and the documents were classified “secret,” not “top secret” or more restricted.

Back to justice.  It’s not an accident justice has classically been depicted as a blindfolded figure holding scales.  Western civilization’s classical conception of justice is vividly displayed in the imagery.  Justice should blindly weigh the relevant facts without regard to things like character, race, ethnicity, sex, or social standing.  The unprejudiced balance of the facts should determine the outcome.  Of course this has not always been the true nature of justice in Western or American society, sometimes with tragic impact.  But it has undoubtedly been the aspiration.

So let’s load the scales.  On the side of continuing Manning’s imprisonment are factors like: she was convicted of felonies after pleading down from more serious felonies, those felonies carry a range of sentences in which her sentence fell, she almost certainly endangered many Americans and American allies’ lives and safety, she cost America valuable time, money, and intelligence resources, and all this apparently simply because she felt the information should be public.  On the side of commuting Manning’s sentence are factors highlighted by her attorney: she has already served seven of her 35-year sentence, those seven years exceed the length of time served by other people convicted of leaking secrets, the documents carried a lower classification than they could have, and, apparently, her health and safety were less secure as compared to life outside of prison.

Justice, then, would weigh in favor of continuing her sentence.  Except that we forgot to load the commutation side with a few factors: Manning was born as a man named Bradley Manning, Manning has recently begun to identify publicly as the woman Chelsea Manning, she has pursued reassignment treatments and procedures, and in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that homosexual marriage is required by the Constitution, transgenderism is in vogue on the left.

True, these are factors to which justice is supposed to be blind.  But this is not the age of justice, it’s the age of social justice.