Tag Archives: Supreme Court

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Obama can appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if the Senate does nothing

If the Senate refuses to consider President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Obama has the Constitutional authority to declare that the Senate has failed to exercise its right and declare the appointment done, says Gregory L. Diskant, senior partner at the law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler and a member of the national governing board of Common Cause, writing at the Washington Post.

The Senate would most likely sue.

It would break the logjam in our system to have this dispute decided by the Supreme Court (presumably with Garland recusing himself). We could restore a sensible system of government if it were accepted that the Senate has an obligation to act on nominations in a reasonable period of time. The threat that the president could proceed with an appointment if the Senate failed to do so would force the Senate to do its job — providing its advice and consent on a timely basis so that our government can function.

I love this idea just in anticipation of hearing the Republicans scream.

Cops already plotting how to get around Supreme Court ruling requiring a warrant to search cell phones

Notice how the focus is on figuring out more ways to search phones, not more ways to make sure they obey the law. This doesn’t make me feel any safer. Quite the opposite.

Law Enforcement, DOJ Already Plotting How To Get Around Supreme Court’s Warrant Requirement To Search Phones

Why Hobby Lobby is no win for religious freedom

“The whole point of establishing a corporation is to create an entity separate from oneself to limit legal liability…. It seems awfully dangerous to allow corporations to have it both ways.“ — David Gushee, an evangelical Christian professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University

“The New Testament never—not one time—applies the ‘Christian’ label to a business or even a government…. The tag is applied only to individuals. If the Bible is your ultimate guide, the only organization one might rightly term ‘Christian’ is a church.” — Jonathan Merritt, an evangelical Christian writer and blogger for the Religion News Service

Why Today’s Hobby Lobby Decision Actually Hurts People Of Faith

My opinion:

  • If you’re going to have religious freedom, then closely held corporations ought not to be required to take action against their beliefs.

  • On the other hand, as Gushee notes, the entire point of a corporation is to separate the business from the person. The family that owns Hobby Lobby can’t on the one hand claim, oh mercy, don’t make us support birth control, it’s against our religion, but on the other hand, oh goodness gracious, don’t make us personally liable for Hobby Lobby’s debts and regulatory violations because we enjoy corporate protection. I look forward to a smart attorney going after Hobby Lobby’s owners’ personal finances over some matter unrelated to religious belief.

  • It’s swell to see Big Government stand up for individual freedom. And by extraordinary coincidence, Big Government is once again standing up for the rights of the 1%.

  • Women have a right to decide for themselves whether to use birth control or get abortions.

Why the US Supreme Court was wrong to uphold public prayer at government meetings

The problem is that the town of Greece, N.Y., wasn’t opening with a generic prayer addressed to “God,” “the Almighty,” or “the Supreme Being.” It as an Easter prayer, stressing “the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross” in a town with synagogues and mosques within its borders.

I’ve been listening to a history of the English Civil War, which was fought in part over religious establishment. Fighting war over religion, particularly civil war, is absolutely insane. The Founders were wise to establish religious freedom, not just because it protects individual rights but also because it keeps the state from getting ripped apart with ridiculous disputes about nothing. Let everybody worship whatever God they want, in whatever way they want, and as long as everybody pays their taxes and obeys the law, everything runs smoothly. The government keeps the roads paved and the trash picked up, and leaves people’s souls to other authorities.

It’s best to be loose about church-state separation. For example, Christmas decorations in City Hall are technically a flagrant violation — but what the heck, it makes people happy and does nobody any harm, particularly if City Hall also makes some acknowledgement of other people’s religious celebration. But opening a city council meeting with an Easter benediction goes too far.

Amazingly, the Supreme Court is currently made up of six Catholics and three Jews, two groups who have historically suffered religious persecution, the Catholics in the US, Jews seemingly everywhere else in the world.

The Founders—so backward in their attitudes on race—launched the republic on the basis of religious tolerance. Benjamin Franklin believed in prayer but stressed the importance of ecumenical “public religion.” Thomas Jefferson did not include his service as president of the United States on his tombstone but requested that his authorship of the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom be included. James Madison believed that “religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” With God unmentioned in the Constitution, the Founders set a course that allowed, over Madison’s objections, for chaplains offering prayers at public meetings. But the tradition has favored deistic references (“God,” “the Almighty,” “the Supreme Being”) over sectarian specifics. “The Founders wanted to keep it general because theological disputes led to political upheaval,” says Jon Meacham, author of American Gospel.

In his majority opinion, Kennedy tried to argue that the court was merely upholding that ecumenical tradition. “Willing participation in civic affairs can be consistent with a brief acknowledgment of their belief in a higher power, always with due respect for those who adhere to other beliefs,” he wrote. But the prayers before town meetings in Greece, New York, were not about a “higher power,” which is a standard and unobjectionable prayer that would not have merited an appeal to the Supreme Court. Instead, the ministers in that New York town—who not once gave way to rabbis or imams, though they had Jewish and Muslim congregations nearby—opened a public meeting by stressing, “the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. We draw strength, vitality, and confidence from his resurrection at Easter…”

A Supreme Religious Injustice – Yahoo News