True Neutrality in a Time of Existential Crisis

What is rapidly becoming not a national existential crisis, but a world existential crisis forces us to examine not the limits of neutrality, but the obligations of neutrality.

The United States is enriched by enormous numbers of organizations that are committed in one way or another to various forms of political neutrality or non-partisanship.

As such, they refuse to endorse candidates, and are extremely careful about taking policy stands, particularly about legislation.  This is all to the good in a normal time.  The problem is not that this should be ditched, but that in a time that is not normal we need to think about whether a formalistic and excessive application of this approach is counter-productive.

To be specific, but at a general level, I do not believe that for organizations to choose this time to formally and publicly reassert the non-partisan values they support is in any way non-neutral, even if so doing my have a political effect because one party or the other presents such a threat to those values.  In such a situation, it is the aberrant party that is creating the political effect, not the neutral organization restating its neutral principles.

Thus, for courts to reassert judicial independence — surely a neutral act if ever there was one — can not be turned into a partisan act by one candidates attack on judicial independence.  Similarly actions of organizations supporting the equality now implicit and explicit in our constitution are not turned into a political acts by a party appearing to attack that principle.

At this moment of crisis, I wish we were seeing more of this clarity, and less retreat into passivity, justified as neutrality.

The distinction between neutrality and passivity should be particularly easy for the legal system to understand, since we now have gotten to the place that we realize that engagement by judges is not the same as non-neutrality, and that passivity is therefore no virtue when true neutrality requires otherwise.

 

 

 

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About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
This entry was posted in Access to Justice Generally, Constitution, Federal Courts, Judicial Ethics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to True Neutrality in a Time of Existential Crisis

  1. Pingback: A Collection of Prior Posts on My Politics Blog Relevant to Now | Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

  2. Mary Ryan says:

    Maintaining Tax Exempt Status for Non-Profits (and its financial dependence and/or its fixation on financial gain) too often takes precedence over what really matters.

    I have never become a tax exempt non-profit organization for that reason. Its a slippery slope and one that demands that a non profit “organization” give up its ability to fight for the very cause it stands for. Perhaps a cynical view, but taking off my “rose-colored” glasses brings clarity to how too often “money takes priority over principle”.

    We don’t need to look too deeply to see how we have boxed ourselves into a place where we believe that our choices for a President of the United States is limited to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump – neither of whom are worthy to serve the Citizens of the United States. I weep for our nation.

    Peace,
    Mary Ryan

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