THE BLOG
07/07/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

National Day of Prayer: Copyrighted and Unconstitutional?

In today's Wilshire & Washington, we tackle the big issues: God, copyright, marriage, and crude oil -- in that order of importance -- with our guest host, Megan Carpentier. A few weeks ago, a court in Wisconsin declared the government's celebration of National Day of Prayer unconstitutional on the grounds of separation of church and state; the Obama administration is appealing the decision. Yesterday, the big day arrived and President Obama did indeed declare it to be National Day of Prayer but he didn't hold any official event and the Pentagon disinvited Evangelical minister Franklin Graham from its celebrations. This was perceived by some in the Christian community -- including our lovely Sarah Palin -- as an affront. But did Obama have much choice, especially with that whole "secret Muslim" meme still at the back of the public's mind? Can any political figure realistically take a stand for separation of church and state, especially in times when the "American people" increasingly like to see their religion reflected in their government? Does it make a difference that the National Day of Prayer is copyrighted? Wouldn't a "National Day of Reflection" or a "National Day of Sensible Discourse" be just as good?

In other big news yesterday, a court in Boston has started hearing arguments for a lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act. Passed in 1996 during President Clinton's tenure, DoMA declares that states need not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and that only heterosexual marriage is federally recognized; this law prevents same-sex couples from having the same federal benefits "opposite-sex" couples do. Is this case more important than the Proposition 8 trial, as it deals directly with federal benefits and with every state in the union? Could this be a very well-timed controversy -- say, if DoMA gets overturned and the appeal takes it to the Supreme Court -- and a potential win for the GOP in this fall's election?

Finally, a judge ruled that Chevron could subpoena 600 hours of footage created for the documentary, Crude, in a lawsuit brought by the victims of an environmental catastrophe in Ecuador's oil-producing Amazon region. The director of the movie, Joe Berlinger, argued that his footage is protected by the first amendment, and like any journalist, he shouldn't have to release it, but the Manhattan judge disagreed. Could this have a chilling impact on documentary filmmakers and other non-traditional journalists and how they gather their information? Will this subpoena really bring transparency to the situation, as the judge claims?

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Wilshire & Washington, the weekly Blog Talk Radio program that explores the intersection of politics, entertainment, and new media, features co-hosts Ted Johnson, Managing Editor of Variety; and bloggers Teresa Valdez Klein (www.teresacentric.com) and Maegan Carberry (www.maegancarberry.com). The show airs every Friday at 7:00am PST on BlogTalkRadio.com.