We all have social positions that require us to be something other than our personal selves. That can feel artificial and even contradictory, but society depends on it. As a judge, lawyer, or office-holder of any kind, at any level, one takes on another personhood. Employees represent their companies and teachers are agents of their schools. Private decisions and attitudes must be subordinated to public rules and precedents when performing these official duties.

Once in a long time it might be imperative to put individual principles ahead of legal and social regulations. This is, and should be, rare, but we learn about it because it is dangerous and risky. Exceptions test the rule — prove it by bringing it to our attention for further examination. Order is not preserved by constant exceptions.

Of course society must change and individual initiatives often start such change. But eventually most people must agree or at least accept the adjustments. Loyal opposition can remain but not in official roles, unless officially permitted.

All this is pertinent thee days to our courts. It is necessary for ideas, arguments, and precedents to determine law, not private preference. Religious and ideological commitment is a private matter in the U.S. and cannot override laws for all the people. The only universal truth is respect for the spiritual lives of all people.

George Weckman

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