Monday, June 30, 2014

Today it was Justice Sammy "The Hammer" Alito's big chance to bludgeon a hapless Constitution


Justice Sammy the Hammer was wielding his Sledgehammer of Doom at the Supreme Court today.

by Ken

Clearly the Cro-Magnon wing of the Roberts Court has developed a vestigial sense of shame. The two bombshell decisions saved for the final day of the Supreme Court term today (which Howie wrote about in his 2pm PT post) weren't bombshells in the sense of surprise. They were just more of the all-but-impossible-to-avoid IEDs that have become the manner of "justice" meted out these days by the High Court, now that the full counter-constitutional system is in place, with the Cro-Magnons being fed cases by the country's powerful right-wing illegal system, cases that allow the C-Ms to continue pushing their constitutional forced march back to the days of the Spanish Inquisition. The C-Ms had timed it so that they could drop their dirty bombs and immediately begin their long slither back under whatever rocks they come out from.

Veteran court-watchers had already deduced that one of today's big opinions would come from Sammy "The Hammer" Alito, but I don't know that anyone realized they both would. Once it was established that The Hammer was wielding his proverbial bludgeon over both cases, the rulings were a foregone conclusion. The only thing to watch for was just how much further the Constitution would be debased by the ruling Cro-Magnons. I guess in some marginal ways both decidsions coulda been worse, but it's bad.

By afternoon there was already lots of good coverage from our friends at ThinkProgress.

On the Hobby Lobby fiasco, our legal eagle Ian Millhiser looks at "the bait-and-switch behind the decision," beginning [links onsite]:
For many years, the Supreme Court struck a careful balance between protecting religious liberty and maintaining the rule of law in a pluralistic society. Religious people enjoy a robust right to practice their own faith and to act according to the dictates of their own conscience, but they could not wield religious liberty claims as a sword to cut away the legal rights of others. This was especially true in the business context. As the Supreme Court held in United States v. Lee, “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.”

With Monday’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, however, this careful balance has been upended. Employers who object to birth control on religious grounds may now refuse to comply with federal rules requiring them to include contraceptive care in their health plans. The rights of the employer now trump the rights of the employee.

To achieve this outcome, Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion on behalf of a bare majority of the Court engages in a kind of legalistic bait-and-switch. It takes a law Congress enacted to serve one limited purpose, and expands that law to suit Hobby Lobby’s much more expansive purpose. . . .
Meanwhile, ThinkProgress's Jack Jenkins has an interesting take: "Why Today's Hobby Lobby Decision Actually Hurts People Of Faith" [links onsite]:
[W]hile conservatives would have the American public believe that protecting Hobby Lobby is about protecting all religious people, the reality is that today’s ruling actually hurts people of faith. In fact, a Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey conducted in early June found that a substantial majority of almost every major U.S. Christian group support the idea that publicly-held corporations and privately-owned corporations should be required to provide employees with healthcare plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost. This is likely why so many progressive Christian leaders have vocally opposed Hobby Lobby in the press, why Americans United for the Separation of Church and State submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court opposing Hobby Lobby on behalf of nearly 30 religious organizations, and why both the Jewish Social Policy Action Network and the American Jewish Committee submitted their own amicus briefs decrying the corporation’s position.


Ian Millhiser notes ("Supreme Court Deals Sharp Blow To Public Sector Unions") that this is "a First Amendment decision" -- the latest effort by conservatives to use the First Amendment as their weapon in order to implement their preferred policies through the judiciary." Ian writes [links onsite]:
The purpose of the First Amendment, is to ensure a robust debate where no ideas are suppressed, so that the American electorate is best equipped to make choices at the polls. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes explained in 1919, “the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution.”

Harris, however, turns this principle on its head. As Justice Elena Kagan laid out at oral argument, [s]ince 1948 . . . there has been a debate in every State across this country about whether to be a right-to-work State and people have disagreed. Some States say yes, some States say no. It raises considerable heat and passion and tension, as we recently saw in Wisconsin. And — but, you know, these are public policy choices that States make.” The plaintiffs in Harris argued, in Kagan’s words, that “people have been debating the wrong question when they’ve been debating that, because, in fact, a right-to-work law is constitutionally compelled.”

The purpose of the First Amendment, according to the plaintiffs in Harris, is not to foster democracy, it is to render democracy irrelevant. This is a radical rethinking of our Constitution. And it was just embraced by five justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ian also cautions: "[T]he case hints that the Court will deal additional blows to public sector unions in the future. Alito labels a seminal Supreme Court opinion allowing unions to collect reimbursements from nonmembers 'questionable on several grounds.' "


In "One Good Thing The Supreme Court Did For Gay Rights Today," Zack writes [links onsite]:
It remains unclear what consequences the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision might have for LGBT equality, but the Supreme Court did take one other action Monday that is actually a small win for gay rights. Before issuing the day’s two big decisions, the Court refused to grant cert to a case challenging California’s ban on ex-gay therapy for minors, leaving the ban in place. . . .


June 30, 2014

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — By a 5–4 vote on Monday, the United States Supreme Court settled a dispute that Justice Samuel Alito said was “at its core about the rights of women versus the rights of people.”

Writing for the majority, Justice Alito wrote, “It is the duty of this Court, whenever it sees that the rights of people are being threatened, to do our best to safeguard those rights. In this case, it is clear that people’s rights were being threatened by women.”

Acknowledging that some women “might argue that they, too, have some claim to being people,” Justice Alito wrote, “That is an interesting question for another day.”

While the Court’s decision caused an uproar across the country, it received a big thumbs-up from one of the Justices who voted with the majority, Antonin Scalia.

“This has been a crappy year or so around here, what with all that gay-marriage stuff, but at least we finished strong,” he said.

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At 1:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Developments to expect re Hobby Lobby---

"Dear laboring cog:

By recent ruling of SCOTUS (Supreme Court of Taliban United States), this corporation hereby reduces your wages by 33%, it having determined, by analysis of your internet viewing/shopping record that, this proportion of your pay is spent on products/activities the corporate godhead finds morally unsupportable.

Remember, services for worship of our dear CEO are held every morning during what used to be your break. Report to the worship screen nearest your leg-shackle attachment point at 10:30 am each morning.

Have a Christ-filled day!!!"


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