SCOTUS v. Congress

The point everyone seems to be missing about the current hearing in the Supreme Court, reconsidering Roe v. Wade, is that we’re asking SCOTUS to adjudicate a nationally-binding, controversial interpretation of conflicting state laws. It doesn’t matter what you think of the issue of abortion: CONGRESS is the problem in our system here, NOT SCOTUS. If Congress would DO ITS JOB and WRITE LEGISLATION to make national policy on the subject, we wouldn’t be putting the Supremes in an unwinnable political situation. CONGRESS is the governmental body where the debate should be had, and where the process of democracy should be working, yet they are sticking their hands in their pockets, whistling tunelessly, and looking at the ceiling while everyone vents their spleen about the political leanings of the Supremes.

Congress is only interested in passing endless “continuing resolutions” to play games with the tax rules, dole out money to special interests, and collect campaign finance contributions, none of which is actually visible to the public. Every law being written now is just some lobbyist putting his employer’s wishes down on paper, and Congressmen shuffling around to see which way they need to vote, and what favors they’ll have to do, in order to NOT aggravate their largest donors. This is why every election is now based on how much you hate what the OTHER guy SUPPOSEDLY stands for, when no one has any real idea what hardly any of them will ACTUALLY put their name to. Congress is completely captured by Big Business, and until we “fix” the Citizens United ruling, they will never again make actual social policy by legislating again. If you manage to get something you want from our government, just consider yourself lucky that your desires happened to line up with some large donor or corporate PAC.

UPDATE: Someone on Twitter pointed out that the House has passed a bill, specifically to address the limitations of the recent, controversial Texas law, and pointed out astonishment how few people had heard about it. Indeed, that raises strange questions about why the media didn’t seem to do much to cover it.

Also, we were all (supposedly) educated in our public school system about the Senate filibuster, and how it was a strange loophole that’s been exploited for the entire history of the United States. It seems particularly silly, in these modern times, to block a vote by a 60% majority that could lead to passing a bill with a simple 51%, regardless of which party is in control of the body, or what law is being considered. I think it’s time to remove that parliamentary procedure once and for all.

Of course, it would be better if we repealed the 17th Amendment, and restored some semblance of States rights, as a check-and-balance to the Federal government — which the Founders envisioned, and wrote into The Constitution — but that matter was effectively settled when the Feds won the Civil War.

Lisa Montgomery Is Executed After Supreme Court Clears Way – WSJ

According to a pool report from the Associated Press, “a female prison staffer standing over Montgomery’s shoulder leaned over, gently removed Montgomery’s face mask and asked her if she had any last words. ‘No,’ Montgomery responded in a quiet, muffled voice. She said nothing else.”

Source: Lisa Montgomery Is Executed After Supreme Court Clears Way – WSJ

Thank God she wore a face mask on the way to being put to death by the State! We wouldn’t want her to catch COVID just before being executed!

Separately, why would a prison staffer remove it to ask a question!?

Also separately, why are the votes of Court so predictable, based on ideology, when it comes to matters of law?

Major shift at Supreme Court on Covid-19 orders – POLITICO

The Supreme Court signaled a major shift in its approach to coronavirus-related restrictions late Wednesday, voting 5-4 to bar New York state from reimposing limits on religious gatherings.

The emergency rulings, issued just before midnight, were the first significant indication of a rightward shift in the court since President Donald Trump’s newest appointee — Justice Amy Coney Barrett — last month filled the seat occupied by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Source: Major shift at Supreme Court on Covid-19 orders – POLITICO

Why is it a “rightward shift” to reinforce the single, most-fundamental, undergirding tenant upon which this country was founded? The people who settled this country were religious zealots who refused to be told what to do and how to do it when it came to practicing their belief in God, and they formed an entire country based on that premise. From the Declaration to the Constitution to everything that followed, not being told what to do when it comes to religion is about as American an idea as anything, and perhaps what makes this country unique. That principle of refusing to be told what to do has flowed through everything else that’s followed, from the South’s secession, to the gold rush and the Wild West, to people who refuse to wear masks.

Many people still think the “freedom of religion” — and all that this phrase implies — is the most-valuable protected right in the Constitution. The people who don’t like it may think this needs to be changed. That’s fine. There’s a process for that, and they can avail themselves of it. It’s been done several times before. But I’m quite certain that those who would want to repeal the First Amendment (or, at least, retract the clause about religion) understand just how the daunting that prospect is, and that this is perfectly indicative of how unpopular and difficult this would be.

The freedom to express your religion is just about as fundamental to speech and assembly as possible. They’re all intertwined. So, as long as the First Amendment stands in effect, the idea that anyone can tell anyone else how or when or where to worship God as they see fit has to be rejected.

The First Amendment is not a “privilege” bestowed by the government, to be revoked during times of crisis or inconvenience. The First Amendment is a restriction on government power, recognizing the inalienable rights of the governed. It’s a subtle difference that consistently confuses a lot of people.

UPDATE: A former federal judge, law professor, and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, wrote an op-ed at the Times, saying basically the same thing I’ve said here: the issue is of paramount Constitutional importance, superseding even global pandemics.

That message is lost if the case is seen as the mere product of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s arrival at the Supreme Court. With the presidential election behind us, the balance between Covid-19 precautions and civil liberties no longer needs to be a partisan issue. The right to exercise religion in accordance with conscience is one of the most important in the Bill of Rights, and it is time for mayors and governors — and courts — to treat it that way.