Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A not very supreme court

On the last day of the Supreme Court's session, a poll was released which reflects the American people's trust and confidence in the institution.  That confidence rate stands at 30% - or at least it did before the court announced decisions on its last two cases yesterday. I suspect that rate may be even lower today.

This is sad. I can remember when the court was held in high esteem, but it is now at its lowest ebb since polls started being taken on the issue in 1973. If it continues on its present path of rewriting the Constitution as a strictly right-wing instrument, confidence in the court is most likely destined to fall into the single digits.

That is not good for the country, but that's what you get when the court is peopled by mediocrities like Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Anthony Kennedy,  intolerant religious warriors like Antonin Scalia, and arch conservatives bent on furthering their political philosophy like John Roberts. It is perhaps telling that all of these very conservative men (Yes, I know Kennedy is regarded by pundits as a "swing" vote but he only seems to swing to the right.) are all Catholics.

Now, some learned observers of the court will say that the religious convictions of justices have no bearing on the decisions they make. If you truly believe that, I have a nice little bridge in the desert I would be willing to sell you.

Only one-third of the Supreme Court is comprised of women, while a bit more than 50 percent of the population of the country is female. American women are used to dealing with inequities, but this is a glaring one that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, because this court, as presently constituted, is entirely dismissive of issues that are faced only by women - whether it is refusing to allow a buffer zone for women entering a medical clinic where abortions are performed so that they don't have people screaming in their faces or giving women's employers veto power over the kind of birth control they use, regardless of what their doctors say or regardless of the women's preferences.

The Supreme Court based these decisions on the rights to freedom of speech and religion. But what about the freedom of speech and of religion of the victims of their rulings?

What of the employee of Hobby Lobby who does not share her employer's profoundly unscientific and extreme views on contraception? Doesn't she have freedom of religion also? Doesn't she have the right to not have her employer's religious views imposed upon her?

The same question holds for those women entering medical clinics for an abortion. Don't they have a right to control their own bodies without enduring the religious rants of people who, once again, are unscientific and extreme in their views? No one disputes their right to hold and express those views, but why do they have a right to shout them in the faces of people who don't want to hear them?

Furthermore, it is an affront to common sense and decency to claim, as our current Supreme Court does, that corporations are people and have the same religious rights and speech rights as people. They went off the tracks with their Citizens United decision which essentially found that money is speech and that corporations have a right to freedom of speech. They opened the floodgates and gave permission to the super-rich to control our political process as never before. This week they continued far into the weeds with the Hobby Lobby decision, affirming that corporations can have religious convictions that are protected under the Constitution.

This session of the court certainly affirmed one thing: WOMEN NEED TO VOTE! WHENEVER THERE IS AN ELECTION, LOCAL, STATE, OR NATIONAL, WOMEN MUST MAKE THEIR VOICES HEARD. NO EXCUSES! THE ONLY WAY TO CHANGE THINGS IS TO CHANGE THE PERSONNEL WHO OCCUPY GOVERNMENT POSITIONS, INCLUDING THE COURTS, AND THE ONLY WAY TO DO THAT IS TO VOTE!!!

Only then might we justifiably expect to see the Supreme Court rise in the esteem of the American people once again and possibly begin to deserve its name.  

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