The radical right control of the Supreme Court turned the nation sharply right again today with its two final decisions of the term. Both 5-4 votes they eviscerated more of our rights. In the Hobby Lobby case they determined that closely held companies have the right to impose their extreme religious beliefs on their employees health care coverage. The small, family owned stores decided they didn’t want to comply with the ACA mandate that their health care cover their employees birth control. 99% of all American women use birth control at some point in their lives. Many use it because they could die if they get pregnant. Women have been dying during birth since the dawn of man. It isn’t a matter of choice for these women, it means life or death.
The Supreme Court decided today that their right to life is trumped by their employer’s radical religious agenda. This opens all sorts of slippery slope consequences as Justice Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent. If your employer in such a company doesn’t believe in immunizations, blood transfusions or other common medical practices they now have the right to impose those beliefs on you, their employee. Be very careful if your employer is a Christian Scientist: they don’t believe in medical care for anything. These folks actually allow their children to die of common viruses rather than seek treatment.
Now, when you interview for a job you’d better ask hard questions about your potential employer’s religious beliefs before accepting employment offers. I imagine this decision will make it very hard for such companies to attract and keep good employees. I certainly hope so. The rest of us need to be sure never to transact business with them.
In the second case home health care workers represented by SEIU in Illinois sued because they want to freeload on the system by accepting the negotiated benefits the union gets for them without paying union dues in return. SCOTUS said they don’t. This decision is a significant loss for unions. These workers, who are earning higher wages because SEIU negotiated them now don’t have to pay dues to SEIU in return for this largesse. This makes them freeloaders.
Elections have consequences and who we elect President has a direct effect on our everyday lives due to such radical right wing decisions by five Supreme Court Justices. Chief Justice John Roberts (GW Bush appointee), Samuel Alito (likewise GW Bush), Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Thomas have shoved the nation far rights with sweeping decisions the past few years. Worse, the two GW Bush Justices are quite young and could serve for decades. Scalia and Thomas are getting long in the tooth and we have to hope they either die soon or decide to retire. That isn’t likely until, if ever, a Republican gains the Oval Office again. It is imperative to restore balance to the Court before these five drive America into third world status. Or before a populist revolution takes their heads. I’d be very fearful of that latter possibility if I were them or the Koch brothers.
President Barack Obama appointed a new super computer to the Supreme Court this spring. The announcement came as an old IBM model neared obsolescence and their is much hue and cry throughout the land about the legal software the new machine will bring to future cases.
What if that had been the announcement recently instead of the one which appointed Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the high court? Machines, after all, are run by the software, not human emotions, life experiences or personal perspectives. Conservatives are having a field day over something Sotomayor said and have called her a racist. She had the temerity to say she could make better decisions that white men who have dominated the Court for our entire history.
Looking st many of the dreadful decisions of the Supreme Court since 1783 one can easily agree with the Judge. From Dred Scott to Bush v Gore white men have used their life’s perspectives to control the country in ways which have not always been just. Th elaw is not something which a computer software program can determine. It is a living thing which evolves, a concept which changes with time, experience and perspective. Each new Justice brings their own unique histoy an dlife’s experiences to the bench. Judge Sotomayor is no different from Samuel Alito (Catholic), Antonin Scalia (Catholic), John Roberts ( privileged white man), Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Jewish woman) or Clarence Thomas (African American angry at affirmative action) have brought.
We see every individual Justice’s perspectives in their writings, questions and decisions. No Justice has ever sat on the Court and decided cases like a computer might. This is why we do not appoint computers. We appoint people with all their prejudices and perspectives. The right wing does not like the perspectives Sonia Sotomayor brings so they have relentlessly attacked her perspectives. This has now extended to personal attacks by calling her racist for daring to speak truth to power. The Supreme Court has been dominated by male WASPs for over two hundred years. The current make up of the Court has ONE woman, ONE African American who is a traitor to his race, and NO Hispanics.
Clarence Thomas is an excellent example of how an individual’s life’s history shapes his legal thinking. Replacing the revered Thurgood Marshall as the token Black he does not believe in standing up for his race. He opposes affirmative action which seeks to reverse 300 years of oppression and racism. If any Justice ever exemplified how a personal life experience shapes one’s perspectives it is Justice Thomas.
Why then is it that Judge Sotomayor is receiving such exterme treatment? Because she will be a Justice who has said publicly she would stand up for her gender and race. That is scary to white men who feel their privilege is threatened. I’m sorry but after having all but five Supreme Court Justices represent your perspective it is time for new blood not a machine to spit out pre programmed legal opinions based on a software program. If there ever was an example of the term garbage in, garbage out, it is the history of the white male dominated Supreme Court. It is time for a new program, fresh perspectives and diversity.