On the EDge: Politics corrupts SCOTUS

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!

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

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  • Lance July 8, 2014 at 9:32 am

    SCOTUS has always been political. It was designed so that it would not be the popularity contest like the Presidency and Congress (Justice Breyer explained this idea).

  • Lance July 8, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Why can’t liberals afford their own birth control in total, is it that difficult for them to buy a box of Trojans? In this narrow ruling a few after the fact methods that are abortifacients are excluded, but there’s still 16 other types of birth control allowed under the plan. I guess that $10 pill would cut into the lib’s latte bills, is that what all the emotional shrieking is about?

    At least the IRS will be able to keep track of everyone’s sex habits soon enough. That’ll be fun to use against the libs when the partisanship swings the other way. Sex scandal-o-rama!

    Ignored in all this is the implicit assumption that the govt. should have any say in anyone’s health matters. A person needs a roof and food ahead of Dr visits, why doesn’t the govt. provide everyone with free food and houses as well?

    • Hunter July 9, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      By the same token, why can’t the old white men afford their own boner pills? Those are covered, after all.

  • Terry July 8, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Another left wing opinion by Kociela. These “old men” can’t possibly be the same “old men” who decided that “Obamacare” was legal.

  • Bo July 8, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Clarence Thomas is now white ! When did this happen? How did I miss that?
    Actually this is a good decision. Kind of makes up for the huge mistake of approving the Un-affordable Health Care Act by calling it a tax. It was really the only sensible conclusion that could come from this case.
    We just need the five somewhat-conservative and semi-Republican Judges to stay alive for 2 years until the next republican president takes over. If one or more dies, the new Obama appointment would help to courts to “fundamentally” change this nation once and for all. The 1st, 2nd and 4th Amendments would be gone so fast our heads would spin. Then Ed would have nothing to write about because the USA would be one big progressive-liberal paradise and all the worlds problems will be solved.

    • Ed Kociela July 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      Could have fooled me…

  • Rick July 8, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Ed, what makes you think any form of government has the right to force a private business to provide any kind of contraception to it’s employees ? Please answer the question. Thank You.

    By the way I find it fascinating how ALL liberals use the same talking points. Almost word for word about “the war on women”, “the evil, rich, right wingers” and their oppressive ways. Really? Is that really what motivates you Ed? If you are all about freedom for all why can’t Hobby Lobby opt out of providing drugs for their employees to kill their babies ? Killing a baby seems like a personal decision that should be made by the individual and not their employer.

  • BSMETER July 8, 2014 at 11:17 am

    You are just as politically biased as Bryan Hyde. You forget about how you praised the same “SCOTUS” when they ruled the individual mandate as constitutional, but this you object to…..interesting. The media needs to stop breeding hate and division. Stop pitting every story as us vs them. Report the facts, and let the people decide. Lets all try and learn to compromise and work together instead of against each other.

    • Rick July 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      I like “BSMETER”. It probably keeps you very busy these days. Ed is nothing but typical. Nothing new. Fair and balanced? I think not. More like biased and lop-sided.

  • JAR July 8, 2014 at 11:27 am

    This article your yelling for all to hear, is pure rubbish. You should think long and hard next time you want to be a mouthpiece for the far left side of government. If women want to get protection from getting pregnant, there is nothing stopping them. All they have to do is open their purse and buy whatever they want. Little men & women on the bench know how to protect the rights of the people, at the same time remove the halo’s from governmental figures.
    Remember, your rights are protected from government too. If you want to buy pills for women birth control needs, you free to do so. If you don’t want to contribute? don’t. And more important, your free to express your views from any soapbox. I respect your viewpoints as long as you don’t demand that I do.

  • LOL'd July 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Even as a liberal i don’t think we need to be paying for everyone’s birth control. They can always go in later and get it aborted if they decide they don’t want it. The no. 1 priority right now should be finding a way to gather up and get rid of all the illegals and to stop immigration in general. Put up a big no vacancy sign let them know they aren’t wanted

  • LOL'd July 8, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    we need true nationalist leaders and much less of these roll-around-in-money BS leaders like we have now. They can all be hung out to dry…

  • Dana July 8, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    “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.”
    Ed, I call BS.
    The entire contraception mandate is a slap in the face to women. It’s telling women they can’t make decisions re:birth control. It’s telling women that without an employer’s coverage she is out of luck. It’s telling women they NEED the ACA to prevent becoming a “victim.” BS. Birth control in many forms is affordable as well as obtainable. If ANY woman has a problem obtaining birth control, I suggest very strongly she practice abstinence.
    And, as a sidebar Ed….please put down your margarita long enough to correct your first sentence.

    • Ed Kociela July 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      Sorry, Dana, but as far as Clarence Thomas is concerned, as I said, could have fooled me!

      • JAR July 9, 2014 at 11:31 am

        Duh, That strikes me as a little bit racist Ed.
        What your stating is any so called black man (and he has been out in the sun a lot), who can understand the principles of the Constitution and not deviate, is a damn Uncle Tom. I’m willing to bet you rather have unionized Black Panther member in that role, wouldn’t you.
        (Just saying)

  • Contraceptive Use July 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Utah must have some of the dumbest people on this earth if they thing contraceptive use is just for birth control, to prevent pregnancies. Also, where is the outcry against these same insurance and business companies that provide erectile dysfunction medications for men? You want to prevent pregnancies? Slip some saltpeter to those old, white Republican horn-dog men who want to control women. Better yet, castrate them. However, you are an idiot, pure and simple, completely ignorant if you think contraceptives are just to prevent pregnancies. You really must be from Dixie to think that.

  • DIXIE MEN July 8, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Utah’s DIXIE MEN, like old white Republican men, must think a woman’s place is either on her back or in the kitchen.

  • DB July 8, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Why is contraception covered at all? (Or Viagra, for that matter) Pregnancy isn’t a sickness or a disease. As far as I know, taking a “day after pill” isn’t going to keep you from getting a STD. As some have said above, this ruling hasn’t denied anyone from getting any contraceptive they desire. They will simply have to pay for them themselves or find a job elsewhere if it’s that important to them.

  • McMurphy July 8, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    While the five conservatives have rendered decisions deeply rooted in their conservative ideology, the four liberals have rendered opinions deeply rooted in their liberal ideology.

    It is true unions in the past played an important role in bringing the working class into the middle class. So why then do more and more of the working class now decline unionization? Should an apolitical Court be rendering decisions on whether a particular entity represents a significant element of a particular political party?

    By the way, the decision on unlimited campaign contributions was an act of inclusiveness since it permits more voices to be heard in what Jefferson called the marketplace of ideas.

    The Hobby Lobby decision does not permit companies to deny health benefits to anyone. It merely means the company does not have to pay for those benefits. The decision does not force a certain behavior upon all women, religious or not. Women are free to make the decisions they believe are in their own best interests. The court decision means under certain circumstances some companies don’t have to financially support those personal decisions.

    The concept of corporate personhood goes back at least to 1819. In a string of decisions the Court has said that “persons” in the 14th Amendment does include corporations. The extent of what personhood entails has changed over the years, but Ed as a liberal surely you subscribe to the notion that the Constitution is a living and evolving document and we shouldn’t be overly concerned about what the Founding Fathers intended.

    I really don’t understand your statement that since the Court has decided to politicize itself the importance of religious influence has been kicked to the curb but the Court is the lackey of the far right which is in turn in the grasp of the organized religion.

    Ed – it appears that you are not overly concerned about the hijacking of laws and whether decisions have Constitutional underpinnings but rather the effect of those decisions. The fact that you don’t like the decisions does not mean they are not based on the Constitution. Differing opinions interpreting the Constitution are possible – that is why there are 5 to 4 decisions

  • starbugary July 8, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Well said Ed, I totally agree with everything you said.
    And for all the Republicans and Tea Partiers who are saying how wrong Ed is and how horrible Liberals are just wait. Do any of you realize what a slippery slope this is? Wait until some Muslim owned business requires their female employees to cover their hair at work, or wear Burqas! No lunch breaks during Ramadan. Or a Scientologist owned business refuses to cover mental health drugs because its against their religion! Do you need to be reminded that Utah is one of the countries highest consumers of mental health drugs? This is about much more than two forms of birth control! The court is just an extension of the Republican Party in its current form, the Republican Party that is fractured and fighting within itself. If you can’t see the forest for the trees on this one then I am sorry for you, this is bad for everyone. And you all need to read up on your history Liberalism always wins in the end because it is inclusive not exclusive. Progress happens and it moves forward try to stop it but it will find a way!

    • Maggie July 9, 2014 at 8:19 am

      I have to agree with part of what you said. The liberals are inclusive . They include only those they want to include. The libs started the KKK and excluded blacks and Ed is still doing that to this day. To be fair you are more inclusive of blacks and women since they got the vote.
      Once again the court is bound by the Constitution, existing laws and yes each of them is indeed human with their own preferences, just as we are. With the ACA they used Constitutional and existing law. I hated it ,but we need to find a way to work with it and amend as needed and possible.
      The HL ruling was indeed a fair one to all. We all got some of what we wanted. Did you once again want to do that inclusive, or only who we want to include and exclude all others ,thing libs do so well?

      • Jen Lindley July 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm

        Maggie, I bet that if you surveyed every KK member today, you would find that the majority of them identify themselves as conservatives or republicans. True, it was republican, Abraham Lincoln, who freed the blacks in 1865 but it was a democrat, Lyndon Johnson, who dealt the final legal blow to racism in 1964 when he signed the “Civil Rights Act of 1964” into law.

    • Rick July 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Starbugary, I take it you are young in years. Am I right? You are a fool if you think the government will solve all of your problems, and I mean ALL of your problems.

  • starbugary July 8, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    It has already started… http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/07/08/3457330/gitmo-hobby-lobby-court-filing/
    Bad ruling, horrible precedent, not just about birth control!

  • St. George Resident July 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    The USA is a very young country. If we were smart we’d look at what other, much older and more mature countries are doing and how they have solved these problems, and take some lessons. But we are not smart. We are arrogant, proud, nationalistic, jingoistic, and opinionated. The rest of the world is moving forward. The USA is moving backward, led by conservative idiots.

  • Maggie July 8, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    ….and when they voted for the ACA the left cheered and those of us in the middle and right booed.
    On this one I think they struck a nice balance. Most prescription forms of birth control were and still are paid for for the employees of Hobby Lobby, and yet the left acts like they took all your toys away.
    Now let me explain something to you. I am on a blood pressure medicine. It stopped working, Dr wants to put me on another, and there is no generic, in the hope that it will work w/o adverse side effects. My insurance says no coverage for the prescribed drug because of expense, so we try some other generic drugs or I pay for it. No religion or SCOTUS involved ED. I am on Medicare so the government is making those decisions as to what drugs I can take w/o paying out of pocket. Many of us have to make these decisions every day and it really is health related. Explain to me why all birth control medications should be available to all women at all times and all other medications are provided by medical necessity and determined by the government and insurers, even when a Dr orders a specific drug. These drugs are both available IF YOU PAY FOR THEM YOURSELF.
    When needed I paid for my birth control ,not my employer, not the government and not the insurance company because it was not a medical necessity in my case. It was the cost of a movie or a bottle of wine a month. I could afford that.
    When did women become such whiney, helpless wimps?
    I wish the left would all stop projecting women as pathetic needy creatures in order to make political points . Ed I hope if you have women in your life that you treat them with more respect and that you have not worked your political voodoo on them.

  • Suffragette July 8, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Clarence Thomas is an old white man? He doesn’t say much, but there’s at least one black man in a long black robe in your gang of five. Yikes.

    There’s a difference between a “moral” person (and plenty of arguments about when that person morally becomes a person) and a “legal”person. Although I’m not a fan of the recent SCOTUS ruling, the legal definition of “person” in 1 USC 1 includes corporations and the Supreme Court has been defining coroporations as “persons” since at least 1888.

    The recent Hobby Lobby ruling was at least partially based on the 2010 Citizens United decision. The Supremes like nothing more than their own precendent. Corporate personhood isn’t going away anytime soon, and, barring a political revolution, we should expect those rights to be further expanded — or codified, depending in your point of view — in the future.

  • Chaister July 9, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I read a lot of articles and think “man that’s a great opinion” or “I didn’t think of it like that”. But when I read this article I thought, “wow this person is so off base, how in the world are they trying to represent the people”, then I scroll down and see that Ed wrote it…that’s why.

  • EL JEFE July 9, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Says the one old white man in the long white hair…..sheesh!

  • Suffragette July 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    I hope this publication reconsiders publishing the work of someone who, instead of admitting a mistake, chose to equate race, political beliefs, and legal opinions. Justice Thomas may not have excelled thus far in his tenure (and how would we know because he chooses silence), but saying that he is untrue to his racial heritage because he is a conservative is unacceptable. As a progressive, I respect and support the right of each individual — of any gender, race, or sexual orientation — to choose his/her own political beliefs. The author insults African-Americans by presuming they should all be liberals. Each individual deserves to make his/her own decisions without stereotyping or derision based on race.

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