This month, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in cases involving two divisive social issues: abortion and homosexuality. The justices have scheduled these hearings so that the decisions will be announced this summer, which serves to remind Christians that there are no time-outs in the culture war. The first case, Stenburg v. Carhart, is an appeal of the Eighth Circuit Court decision that struck down Nebraska's ban on partial-birth abortions. This decision raised a conflict with other circuit courts that had sustained the ban in Wisconsin and Virginia, and so has gone to the Supreme Court for a ruling. The second, Boy Scouts v. Dale, is an appeal of a New Jersey Supreme Court's decision that stated the Boy Scouts could not exclude homosexual men as scoutmasters, even though the Scout's Oath requires members to be "morally straight" ("Scouts' Dishonor," CT, Nov. 15 1999, p. 128). The court's finding that the Scouts are a "public accommodation," subject to New Jersey's anti-discrimination statute, was particularly troubling. This definition of public could, in time, include other non-profits and churches, forcing them to hire practicing homosexuals as employees, even clergy.It was no surprise the Supreme Court took these appeals; both raise major constitutional issues. But what has raised eyebrows is the justices' decision to do so on an expedited schedule, as was announced in January. This means the decisions will be handed down just as both political parties head for their national conventions. Why would the court inject these volatile issues—and itself—into the middle of a national election? Perhaps the justices believe that the presidential candidates will be distracted and would hesitate to criticize the Court in ...1
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