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Author Topic: Judge rules FLDS man doesn't have to answer questions because of Hobby Lobby ruling  (Read 1588 times)

mlr52

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How the Hobby Lobby ruling is helping a member of Warren Jeffs’ polygamous church
POSTED 3:00 PM, SEPTEMBER 16, 2014, BY BEN WINSLOW, UPDATED AT 03:21PM, SEPTEMBER 17, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has ruled that a member of the Fundamentalist LDS Church does not have to answer questions about child labor violations because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.

Vergel Steed refused to answer even the most basic questions in a recent deposition, because he is protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“It is clear that Mr. Steed has raised the very defenses available under RFRA,” U.S. District Court Judge David Sam wrote in the order.

The U.S. Department of Labor took action against Paragon Contractors for a 2012 incident where hundreds of children were seen working in a field in Hurricane, picking pecans. In court filings, the Labor Department has suggested that FLDS leaders ordered children to be removed from school to work in the fields.

As part of their case, FLDS members have been deposed — including Steed. In a deposition obtained by FOX 13 on Tuesday, it appears Steed refused to answer many questions.

(snip)

“It is not for the Court to “inquir[e] into the theological merit of the belief in question,” Sam wrote, citing the Hobby Lobby decision.  “The determination of what is a ‘religious’ belief or practice is more often than not a difficult and delicate task …. However, the resolution of that question is not to turn upon a judicial perception of the particular belief or practice in question; religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection.”
(snip)

full story http://fox13now.com/2014/09/16/judge-rules-flds-man-doesnt-have-to-answer-questions-because-of-hobby-lobby-ruling/

I am confused, what does having children picking Pecans (if the story is correct) have to do with religion?
« Last Edit: September 19, 2014, 12:59:45 pm by mlr52 »
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Quote from: mlr52;159383
I am confused, what does having children picking Pecans in the middle of a hurricane (if the story is correct) have to do with religion?

A literal interpretation of 'suffer the little children' perhaps?
« Last Edit: September 19, 2014, 01:01:27 pm by Valeria Crowe »
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Quote from: mlr52;159383

Vergel Steed refused to answer even the most basic questions in a recent deposition, because he is protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“It is clear that Mr. Steed has raised the very defenses available under RFRA,” U.S. District Court Judge David Sam wrote in the order.

 
1) Why would he need to cite the RFRA?  He already has 5th Amendment.

2) I'm kind of wondering just how the RFRA 'covers' child slavery, or any other form of child abuse.
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mlr52

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Quote from: MadZealot;159389
1) Why would he need to cite the RFRA?  He already has 5th Amendment.

2) I'm kind of wondering just how the RFRA 'covers' child slavery, or any other form of child abuse.

 
According to the court transcript  Steed's religious belief that he cannot talk about the FLDS organization or leaders is a valid reason.  I do not see what that has to do with did the church pull them out of school to work the field.

Reminds me of can't tell you its National Security.
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mlr52

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Quote from: Cuthwin Crowe;159386
A literal interpretation of 'suffer the little children' perhaps?

 
Just so you know I edited my original post.   I took out in the middle of a hurricane (I had miss read the name of the town for one.)
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sailor

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Quote from: mlr52;159391
According to the court transcript  Steed's religious belief that he cannot talk about the FLDS organization or leaders is a valid reason.  I do not see what that has to do with did the church pull them out of school to work the field.

Reminds me of can't tell you its National Security.

 
That's part of why the judge upheld Steed's petition under the RFRA.  The government was unable to prove that they needed information about the inner workings that 1) was needed to prosecute labor law violations and 2) couldn't get in another way.

There is no 5th amendment protection involved.  Answering questions about who ran or was a member of the church was not going to lead to him being prosecuted for labor law violations.  It might be used as background info to investigate the group and shut it down, but that's not going to trigger those protections.

Think about it this way.  If say a local CUUPS group is charged with say having an outdoor fire illegally, should the people in the local group have to provide the names and contact info for the regional and national CUUPS officers etc?

carillion

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Quote from: sailor;159483
That's part of why the judge upheld Steed's petition under the RFRA.  The government was unable to prove that they needed information about the inner workings that 1) was needed to prosecute labor law violations and 2) couldn't get in another way.

There is no 5th amendment protection involved.  Answering questions about who ran or was a member of the church was not going to lead to him being prosecuted for labor law violations.  It might be used as background info to investigate the group and shut it down, but that's not going to trigger those protections.

Think about it this way.  If say a local CUUPS group is charged with say having an outdoor fire illegally, should the people in the local group have to provide the names and contact info for the regional and national CUUPS officers etc?


But does that effect the illegality of an outdoor fire or using children as labour? There are labour laws in place which would make the reasons for it moot, surely?

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Quote from: carillion;159485
But does that effect the illegality of an outdoor fire or using children as labour? There are labour laws in place which would make the reasons for it moot, surely?

 
Does the RFRA effect the illegality of an outdoor fire or using child labor?  Absolutely not. (ok, not in the basic cases here.  I remember a recent case where a couple was charged with child labor law violations for letting their children pass out flyers).

I'm not sure what you are trying to say with your second sentence.

mlr52

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Quote from: sailor;159483
That's part of why the judge upheld Steed's petition under the RFRA.  The government was unable to prove that they needed information about the inner workings that 1) was needed to prosecute labor law violations and 2) couldn't get in another way.

Think about it this way.  If say a local CUUPS group is charged with say having an outdoor fire illegally, should the people in the local group have to provide the names and contact info for the regional and national CUUPS officers etc?

 
My understanding is were the children engaged in illegal work.  If so was it at the church's order, or members of the church acting as church representatives or as individuals (who are using RFRA to cover themselves)?  If the work is part of the religious practice, that is covered by the RFRA.
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Quote from: mlr52;159392
Just so you know I edited my original post.   I took out in the middle of a hurricane (I had miss read the name of the town for one.)

 
A Reminder:
Hi, mlr52,

Our rules  generally prohibit editing after more than 2-3 minutes.  (Correcting  typos or minor mistakes is OK, but don't forget to fill in the "Reason  for Editing" box so that we know what's going on.)  This is because  after that long, several people have already read what you've written,  and they won't see the changes you make.  Because of that, they will  have difficulty following the conversation when someone replies to your  new, updated post.

If you need to correct or add anything  significant after those 2-3 minutes, you should just reply to yourself  and give the correction or additional information in the new post.   Double-posting is not considered bad behaviour here, and this will help  keep everyone on the same page, so to speak.

While you did make a new post mentioning the edit, it was in response to a post in which the part you edited had been quoted. This is exactly why we say '2-3 minutes'; any longer, and people are likely to have read and replied to the unedited post. Nine minutes (which is how long the timestamps show between the time of your initial post and the time of your edit) is much too long for anything more than typos and the like.

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carillion

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Quote from: sailor;159487
Does the RFRA effect the illegality of an outdoor fire or using child labor?  Absolutely not. (ok, not in the basic cases here.  I remember a recent case where a couple was charged with child labor law violations for letting their children pass out flyers).

I'm not sure what you are trying to say with your second sentence.


What I meant was that if something is illegal, like child labour, then surely the *reason* why people put them to it is irrelevant? Or does this new religious amendament to the law also cover 'behavior' as well as belief?  If so, it's an awful slippery slope. It would in effect mean a two-tiered law and anyone can claim anything - there is no way to 'prove' one holds a certain belief.

If the law doesn't cover behavior, then it's a moot point because it's the illegal act itself that is the deciding factor. The law doesn't care *why* you put children to work, the law is there to protect the children regardless of 'why'.

Isn't it?

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Quote from: carillion;159591
What I meant was that if something is illegal, like child labour, then surely the *reason* why people put them to it is irrelevant? Or does this new religious amendament to the law also cover 'behavior' as well as belief?  If so, it's an awful slippery slope. It would in effect mean a two-tiered law and anyone can claim anything - there is no way to 'prove' one holds a certain belief.

If the law doesn't cover behavior, then it's a moot point because it's the illegal act itself that is the deciding factor. The law doesn't care *why* you put children to work, the law is there to protect the children regardless of 'why'.

Isn't it?

 
Thanks for clarifying.

Point number one is that there is nothing new about this law.  It hasn't been modified, AFAIK, since it was passed in the 1990s.

The answer is that it depends.

It is a two prong test, and yes it does cover behavior. Behavior is really the key to religion as far as the law is concerned.  

First, is the behavior a compelling government interest.  In this case, preventing  unpaid child labor is considered, by the judge, a compelling interest.  So the FLDS, and the people who made the kids work for free, are liable.  So, the RFRA is not a way to get around illegal child labor laws.

Second, is this the least intrusive way to prevent or compel such behavior.  In this case, the government can get the information it needs about the labor law violation and about who might be involved without getting information about the leadership from this guy.  

To use a slightly different example, if the police arrest a Gardnerian coven for an illegal bonfire, they don't need a copy of the book of Shadows and copies of all the initiation lineage documents to prosecute them.

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Quote from: sailor;159598
Thanks for clarifying.

Point number one is that there is nothing new about this law.  It hasn't been modified, AFAIK, since it was passed in the 1990s.

The answer is that it depends.

It is a two prong test, and yes it does cover behavior. Behavior is really the key to religion as far as the law is concerned.  

First, is the behavior a compelling government interest.  In this case, preventing  unpaid child labor is considered, by the judge, a compelling interest.  So the FLDS, and the people who made the kids work for free, are liable.  So, the RFRA is not a way to get around illegal child labor laws.

Second, is this the least intrusive way to prevent or compel such behavior.  In this case, the government can get the information it needs about the labor law violation and about who might be involved without getting information about the leadership from this guy.  

To use a slightly different example, if the police arrest a Gardnerian coven for an illegal bonfire, they don't need a copy of the book of Shadows and copies of all the initiation lineage documents to prosecute them.


Ahh, I see. Thank you. I guess I was thrown as the opening post referenced the 'Hobby Lobby' ruling which I thought was a new amendment.

In which case, I don't see the problem. It protects freedom of religion but doesn't allow it to trump statutes that protect people from harm . At least behaviorally.

And while I can see the mindset of people wanting to understand a belief system so as to be able to act prophylactically, I also know this can be used simply to intimidate.

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Quote from: sailor;159598
Second, is this the least intrusive way to prevent or compel such behavior.  In this case, the government can get the information it needs about the labor law violation and about who might be involved without getting information about the leadership from this guy.  

To use a slightly different example, if the police arrest a Gardnerian coven for an illegal bonfire, they don't need a copy of the book of Shadows and copies of all the initiation lineage documents to prosecute them.

 
However, they may need to know the leadership to see who gave the order to take the children out of school for forced manual labor.  That's where your examples break down.

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Quote from: Skyth;159603
However, they may need to know the leadership to see who gave the order to take the children out of school for forced manual labor.  That's where your examples break down.

 
No, it doesn't.  The government can find out who the leadership is other than from this person IF they need to know who the leadership is for this actual violation of labor laws. That the government can get the needed information from another source is why the RFRA works for this particular person.

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