OPINION – Five old, white men in long black robes have once again imposed their will on the United States.
If we have learned nothing else this year it’s that the United States Supreme Court is anything but the idealistic, apolitical, arm of justice it was set up to be.
The five conservatives on the Supreme Court have hijacked the law and rendered decisions that are deeply rooted in their conservative ideology.
We’ve seen them throw open the doors to allow unlimited campaign contributions to political candidates, which will tip the odds a bit as most money sits in the pockets of the far right; we’ve seen them attempt to kill unions and unionization efforts, which have been the core support of the working class of this nation and represent a significant segment of the Democratic Party; and now, we’ve seen them use their muscle to support the Republican Party’s war on women with a ridiculous decision that allows “closely held for-profit” businesses to opt out of coverage for certain contraceptives in their health plans.
The names are Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia, the conservative wing of the highest court in the land, and they are no longer seeking justice, choosing instead to advance the agenda of the Republican Party. Their decision regarding the right of Hobby Lobby and others to deny certain forms of birth control to their female employees is nothing more than another slap at the Affordable Care Act and President Barack Obama that is based on partisanship rather than law.
We’ve seen SCOTUS rulings in the past, of course, that have been unpopular, but rooted in law. As difficult as they may have been to accept, there was still a logical line that traced from the Court rulings to justice.
These latest decisions, however, represent a pathological allegiance to conservative dogma.
It happens, of course, when one group – be it political, religious, or cultural – holds on to a majority for any length of time. These groups tend to become selfish, self-serving, non-inclusive, even abusive.
The nation is built on a democratic principle, but for a democracy to work, it must take into account the needs of the minority as well as the well-heeled majority. We are a diverse community where a winner-take-all philosophy is unhealthy, creating divisiveness, bitterness, anger.
Before you argue that there is partisanship coming from the other side, realize that most liberal rulings tend to be progressive and inclusive, adding to the overall quality of life for all, rather than simply serving those with the power of majority. The Constitution, after all, was a document written by “we, the people,” not “we, the rich,” “we, the powerful,” or “we, the righteous.”
The most current SCOTUS ruling is dangerous in another respect as it mixes law and a particular arm of organized religion as the basis for its decision that a for-profit business may opt out of contraceptive coverage in its health care plan as a result of the owners’ religious beliefs.
The case has already been made elsewhere about what effect this could have on companies owned and operated by those who do not believe, on religious grounds, in blood transfusions or vaccinations. But, how much further will the ruling reach? The First Amendment comes into play because it not only ensures freedom to worship as one pleases, but guarantees freedom from religious influence. This SCOTUS decision forces a certain behavior upon all women, religious or not.
The impact of faith on governance is a major concern. It’s why when Mitt Romney was running for president he was asked if the LDS Church would influence his decisions. John Kennedy’s Catholicism drew similar questions. But, now that SCOTUS has decided to politicize itself, the importance of religious influence has been kicked to the curb, and make no mistake about it, the far right is held tighty in the grasp of organized religion.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a furious dissenting opinion in response to the latest ruling.
Among her arguments:
- “Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations.”
- “The ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement applies generally, it is ‘otherwise valid,’ it trains on women’s well being, not on the exercise of religion, and any effect it has on such exercise is incidental.”
- “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would override significant interests of the corporations’ employees and covered dependents. It would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure.”
- “Until this litigation, no decision of this Court recognized a for-profit corporation’s qualification for a religious exemption from a generally applicable law…The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities. As Chief Justice Marshall observed nearly two centuries ago, a corporation is ‘an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.’”
Perhaps that’s where the five old men of the Court went south. Perhaps they got caught up in all that right wing psycho-babble that “corporations are people.” That misplaced priority cost the Republican Party the White House last time around. There was no lesson learned, however, as this group of pouters known as the GOP continues to do everything in its power to make the administration look bad, even if it includes idiotic actions such as Speaker John Boehner’s threat to sue the president; using obstructionist tactics to make this one of the least-productive and most-hated Congressional sessions in history; subjugating women’s rights with misogynistic fervor; and corrupting the United States Supreme Court with unseemly politics.
This is not the Supreme Court the Founding Fathers imagined.
Not even close.
No bad days!
- Sens. Hatch, Lee on Supreme Court decision for religious freedom
- Congressmen brief US Supreme Court, health care law’s contraception mandate is illegal
- Hatch applauds Supreme Court; Hobby Lobby case on religious freedom
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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