McDaniel flounders 

Dustin McDaniel seems to believe that the attorney general is supposed to blunder around talking nonsense. He's misguided. The state's top lawyer should be a level-headed sort.

McDaniel's recent behavior has been decidedly unsteady. Caught up, with other constitutional officers, in a controversy over the nonpayment of taxes on state-owned cars used by the officials, McDaniel was torn between confessing and expressing remorse, on the one hand, or brazening it out and denying wrongdoing on the other. So he did both, confusing all, satisfying none. He further clouded the air by calling down Lt. Gov. Bill Halter for paying the taxes, surely one of the oddest criticisms ever made by one politician of another. Ask "Would you elect a man who pays his taxes?" and you're likely to hear back "Yes!" McDaniel and Halter are potential opponents in a future governor's race. The potentiality appears to be weighing heavily on McDaniel. Although, eventually, he apologized and paid up.

But worse lay ahead. McDaniel ran bull-like into the First Amendment wall between church and state, aligning himself — as much as he can be said to be aligned these erratic days — with political opportunists seeking to weaken the constitutional prohibition against forced religion. He joined in asking a federal appeals court to overrule a district judge who held, properly, that a federal law directing the president to declare an annual National Day of Prayer violates the Constitution.

The judge was Barbara B. Crabb of Wisconsin, ruling in a suit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation against President Obama. (Who knows even better than McDaniel that the Foundation is right.) The name of the group is entirely apt. Fundamentalists argue that the constitutional guarantee of "freedom of religion" does not include freedom from religion, but of course it would be a sorry sort of freedom if it didn't, rather like saying that the freedom to express one's opinion doesn't include the right to keep one's opinion to oneself.

Whether any American should pray or not pray is none of the government's business. As Judge Crabb says: "Recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean that the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue [the Day of Prayer statute refers specifically to 'churches'], purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic. ... The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy."

The opinion is 66 pages long and there's wisdom on every one. We commend it to Attorney General McDaniel.



Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Most Shared

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Arkansas is the perfect place to try out this new health trend. Read all about the what, why, where and how here.

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Worse than N.C.'s bathroom bill

    SB 774 extends birth certificate requirement to bathrooms in all public facilities, and that's an original birth certificate, too.
  • Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight of his office to end the state's embarrassing dual holiday for slavery defender Robert E. Lee and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    • The South hasn't quit fighting. No, but Robert E Lee did and he could have…

    • on March 23, 2017
  • Re: City Board discovers LRSD

    • You reap what you sow, the seeds were planted when the Max Brantley's of LR,…

    • on March 20, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • Diane, as noted above, this is a *column* not a news piece. So yes, it's…

    • on March 20, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation