On letterhead for Douglas Laycock, a professor of law and of religious studies at the University of Virginia, 10 professors in addition to Laycock signed on. The thrust of the letter is that SB1062 is not discriminatory because it’s not the bill that was proposed in Kansas.
SB1062, which amends Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is on your desk for signature. The bill has been egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics. We write because we believe that you should make your decision on the basis of accurate information.
Some of us are Republicans; some of us are Democrats. Some of us are religious; some of us are not. Some of us oppose same-sex marriage; some of us support it. Nine of the eleven signers of this letter believe that you should sign the bill; two are unsure. But all of us believe that many criticisms of the Arizona bill are deeply misleading.
These are smart people who know, or certainly should know how to make sound, valid arguments. However, in the opening paragraphs of their 4-page missive, they set forth 1) why they believe they are authorities on the subject; and 2) a vague, generalized declaration that criticism of SB1062 is “deeply misleading.”
What they do NOT do is say ANYTHING specific about just what criticism(s), published or broadcast where or by whom, are misleading. That should be a HUGE red flag.
They then proceed to set forth brief history of RFRAs (Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, in federal and state law). They talk about the standards set forth in RFRAs and why — compared to the proposed legislation in KANSAS — Arizona’s bill was a good thing because of what courts would have had to do in order to determine who wins a given lawsuit.
But I don’t know that ANYONE published ANYTHING comparing SB1062 with the Kansas legislation in order to criticize or justify the Arizona bill. Which appears to make their attempted argument NOT germane to the discussion we’ve had over the last week here in Arizona.
The other thing that these uppity law professors gloss over is that in order for courts to be put in position to make any ruling, someone must face what they consider to be discrimination. Somebody is going to suffer harm to some degree before a court will be able to decide if that harm was justified or not.
So, bravo for Ms. Herrod for getting someone to put something in writing that attempts to justify SB1062.
The arguments set forth in the letter may or may not matter to a judge in a courtroom, but in the political realm of Arizona legislation, they do not hold water, and appear only mildly less disingenuous than Herrod has up to now on this matter.