Saturday, September 22, 2007

God Has An Attorney?

So a couple of weeks ago, some joe-blow state senator from Nebraska filed a lawsuit... against God. This man, Ernie Chambers, claims to have done so as a way to protest the filing of another high-profile lawsuit he sees as frivolous while at the same time highlighting what he considers to be one pillar of our judicial system, the fact anyone can sue anyone in this country... even God (If this logic makes any sense to you, please take a moment to explain it to the rest of us).

In his complaint, the senator seeks a permanent injunction ordering God to stop "making and continuing to make terroristic threats of grave harm to innumerable persons," including Chambers' constituents, "who [Chambers] has the duty to represent." The complaint also alleges that God has caused "fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like" which have resulted in "the wide-spread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants including innocent babes, infants, children, the aged and infirm without mercy or distinction."

Chambers claims he's tried to contact God numerous times, but the "despite reasonable efforts to effectuate personal service upon defendant 'Come out, come out, wherever you are,' has been unable to do so." In light of this, Chambers has requested that the court waive personal service because, since God is omniscient, it should be assumed that he has actual knowledge of the action. He's asked the court to grant him a summary judgment.

Well... God apparently knows a few lawyers and it seems he has, among other things, motioned for the court to grant him a special appearance just to contest jurisdiction. Even if this thing goes to trial though, God should make out alright. The thought of deposing Him has got to intimidate even the most seasoned trial attorney, and you have to figure that God's gonna' have an in with the judge and jury. On top of that, God's court submission purportedly includes a witness list with heavyweights like St. Michael the Archangel.


buddens said...

It's so weird, I don't even really know what to say.

BA said...

I like His signature. Notice how I capitalized "his"? Both Mrs. Bestors would be so proud.

Chris said...

Almost as good as the time some guy sued Satan and his servants:

U. S. ex rel. Mayo v. Satan and his Staff

Civil rights action against Satan and his servants who allegedly placed deliberate obstacles in plaintiff's path and caused his downfall, wherein plaintiff prayed for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The District Court, Weber, J., held that plaintiff would not be granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis who in view of questions of personal jurisdiction over defendant, propriety of class action, and plaintiff's failure to include instructions for directions as to service of process.
Prayer denied.

54 F.R.D. 282

Citizen said...

Personally, I am not convincted that the service of process issues are not insurmountable for Mr. Chambers. No, I am more concerned about whether, as he has framed his complaint, he has standing to sue. Simply stated, to have standing, Mr. Chambers must show in his complaint that he has suffered or imminently will suffer (b/c he is seeking injunctive relief, he will have to show this) some cognizable injury; that the injury can reasonably be traced to God, and that the Court has the ability (and not just the authority) to redress Mr. Chamber's harm, i.e. order God to stop.

1. Injury. It seems that Mr. Chambers' complaint is concerned not with the direct, personal injuries that God has caused him - but rather with the injuries God has allegedly caused innumerable other parties, including his constituents. In other words, Mr. Chambers is trying to assert some form of "third party" standing, which is normally prohibited unless there is a "special relationship" that the Court has recognized as permissible for 3rd party standing. The relationship Mr. Chambers seems to assert is (a) he is part of humanity - hardly "special" and (b) his constituents have been harmed. Really? by earthquakes in Omaha? Besides, I am fairly certain that the Court has ruled out "representative/senator" 3rd party standing, because that would violate the political question doctrine, and it would just be unmanageable.

2. Fairly Traceable to God. Assuming arguendo that the Court didn't punt on the first question, and that he were granted third party standing (or personal standing) for injuries by God to him or his constituents in Omaha, he would have to specifically state those injuries, and show how they could be traced back to God. I think the defendant would make quick work of that, because the Court wouldn't have to decide that there "is no God" when the defendant shows that an earthquake is more likely traceable to techtonic shifts, the Court would just say that the Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden, and the defendant's evidence in the alternative shows that it could traced to alternative sources.

3. Redressability. This is my favorite part. Mr. Chambers is seeking injunctive relief from the Court. He can't have standing unless the Court agrees that whatever relief he has asked for, the Court is capable of providing (or some other adequate relief that it can fashion). The Court would have to ask whether an injunctive order would do any God, assuming arguendo that God was responsible for the "terroristic earthquakes" et al. Well, I think the Court might delve into an inquiry into God's nature, to determine His likelihood of following an injunctive order. On the one hand, He doesn't have a very good track record of fulfilling "requests" by prayers, willy nilly. But what about orders? Most of human history is filled with people REQUESTING things of the Omnipotent and getting DENIED. Maybe we have it ALL WRONG... Maybe Mr. Chambers is on to something. Maybe, instead of praying to God, "please protect my family, don't let any harm come to them," it's time we played some hardball. I think it would be intriguing if the Court decided to do a survey of religions to check and see if any of them have anything on DEMANDS of the God(s).

BA said...

geek alert!

Marc said...

Geek, maybe.

Freaking awesome, most definitely.

Citizen said...

Geek alert? you mean like these...? I thought that "The World According to Marc" was like, where geeks came to roost...

See e.g.

a geek revealed

geek explanation

very geeky in hindsight

ugh. a geeky chart!

navel gazing at the homeless? liberal geek!

arguably geeky

King Family said...

Crazy. Who has this much time?

Marc said...

Citizen - I never denied my geekdom... nor did I allege yours.

King - Hmmm... are you talking about Citizen's legal analysis or the guy suing God?

angie said...

guy suing God.

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