Chaos Theory might help us understand another phenomenon, often identified as the Law of Unintended Consequences. How often have we been told that some ill outcome was not intended to be provoked by some action? There are too many instances of folks describing something as being the result of the law of unintended consequences to try to detail them all. Still, it is a source of disturbing amusement to consider examples of the Law of Unintended Consequences, so let me offer a couple examples.
Yes, The Law of Unintended Consequences Can Kill
Under Chairman Mao, Communist China instituted an agricultural campaign to improve production. They called it the "Four Pests" campaign. The four pests were sparrows, rats, flies and mosquitoes. Yes, sparrows. Sparrows enjoy grains, and fed on growing crops. So the Communists included sparrows in its extermination program.
The Four Pests Campaign aimed to insure great crops for "Ten Thousand Generations." Of course, doing so would depend on involving children in more than just the sling shooting of sparrows. So, here is a lovely poster from the early 1960's showing
In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them. There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.
On Tuesday, April 28, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a set of consolidated cases arising out of
Will Harms to Religious Organizations Result from Recognizing a Fourteenth Amendment Right to Marriage Equality
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Counsel, I'd like to follow up in a line of questioning that Justice Scalia started. We have a concession from your friend that clergy will not be required to perform same sex marriage, but there are going to be harder questions.
Would a religious school that has married housing be required to afford such housing to same sex couples?
GENERAL VERRILLI: I guess what I'd I'd like to make three points about that, if I could, Mr. Chief Justice.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, the first part
GENERAL VERRILLI: And I will and I'll go right at the question you asked. The first one is, of course, this Court's ruling addresses what the States must do under the Fourteenth Amendment.
And the and the second point is that when you get to a question like the one Your Honor asked, that is going to depend on how States work out the balance between their civil rights laws, whether they decide that there's going to be civil rights enforcement of discrimination based on sexual orientation or not, and how they decide what kinds of accommodations they are going to allow under State law. And they could well you know, different states could strike different balances.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: What about Federal it's a Federal question if we make it a matter of constitutional law.
GENERAL VERRILLI: But the question of what how States use their enforcement power is up to the States.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, you have enforcement power, too.
GENERAL VERRILLI: Right. And and well, that's certainly true, but there is no Federal law now generally banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, and that's where those issues are going to have to be worked out.
And I guess the third point I would make, Your Honor, is that these issues are going to arise no matter which way you decide this case, because these questions of accommodation are going to arise in situations in States where there is no same sex marriage, where there are and, in fact, they have arisen many times. There there are these commitment ceremonies.
For example, in the
New Mexicocase in which this Court denied cert just a few months back, that did not arise out of a marriage. That arose out of a commitment ceremony, and the and these, you know, commitment ceremonies are going to need florists and caterers.
JUSTICE ALITO: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same sex marriage?
GENERAL VERRILLI: You know, I I don't think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it's certainly going to be an issue. I I don't deny that. I don't deny that, Justice Alito. It is it is going to be an issue.
As the excerpt above shows, the justices raised as a concern that a decision finding that the Fourteenth Amendment mandates marriage equality could result in revocation of tax exempt statuses of religious schools. The Solicitor General did nothing to assuage the concerns raised by the justices.
Bob Jones University: Losing Tax Exempt Status Due to Important Public Policies on Discrimination
The governmental interest at stake here is compelling. [T]he Government has a fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education -- discrimination that prevailed, with official approval, for the first 165 years of this Nation's constitutional history. That governmental interest substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on petitioners' exercise of their religious beliefs. The interests asserted by petitioners cannot be accommodated with that compelling governmental interest,  and no 'less restrictive means,' , are available to achieve the governmental interest.
Past is Prologue: Employment and Other Disputes Accusing Religious Organizations of Discrimination in Matters Sexual are Already Ongoing
Just last year, for example, a teacher employed with a Montana Catholic school sued the Butte Diocese (under law and Catholic doctrine, Catholic schools are administrative units of the Diocese, and the Diocese answers for the acts of the school). Shaela Evenson taught literature and physical education, and her employment was under a contract with the Diocese. When an anonymous tip advised the Diocese that an unmarried teacher in one of the Catholic schools of the Diocese had become pregnant, an investigation followed. The Diocese offered Evenson the opportunity to resign rather than to suffer termination due to her breach of contract.
Obviously, others have drawn the likely connection between a newly recognized constitutional right to marriage equality and practices previously recognized as protected due to their religious dimensions. Bob Jones University tells us that the IRS -- already shown to be a potent political tool when the administration in power seeks to use it in that way -- can justifiably deny tax exempt status where a sufficiently compelling government interest exists as part and parcel of an important public policy.