The SCOTUS Upholds Affordable Care Act

As I see some of my favorite bloggers piping in on the breaking news, I figured I better get my thoughts down for the record. I base the following on the reporting I’ve seen so far.

First, Republicans should take solace in the fact that Chief Justice John Roberts basically said “let’s not mince words here … this mandate is a tax. As long as we call it what it is, it’s constitutional.” This gives the Grover Norquist devotees more fodder.

Second, this is a win for Obama on the “legitimacy” question. A defeat on this law would have added to the rhetoric that Obama is an un-American violator of the Constitution. That rhetorical argument is now dead.

Third, we have affirmed as a nation that it is unconscionable for the wealthiest country on the face of the Earth to allow its citizens to be bankrupted by catastrophic health problems.

The GOP response to this decision is a plan to vote for repeal in the House on July 11. This is an incredibly petty move in my opinion.

What does it mean for the election in November? Not much I’m afraid. A negative decision from the court might have hurt Obama badly but this “win” doesn’t change things much. Jobs are still the biggest issue in this election and it is still Obama’s task to convince the American people that he can create jobs and that Romney’s experience does not prepare him to do the same.

What are your thoughts?

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Photo by White House (Pete Souza)[1] (White HouseOlder upload from here) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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The Slippery Slope to Sharia Law

No, this is not going to be another one of those Islamaphobic rants about how Sharia law is coming to a theater near you any day now. On the contrary, this will be a Judeo-christian-phobic rant about double standards and where the real threat of religious domination comes from.

Recently, the Supreme Court announced in a unanimous decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC that a religious institution could discriminate in its hiring practices without repercussions. This supposedly falls under freedom of religion. The case involves a woman who took a medical leave from a Lutheran school due to a diagnosis of narcolepsy. Upon returning from leave she was told her job had been taken and there was no further work for her. When she threatened to sue, she was fired. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took on her case as a violation of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) protections.

I have no problem with the case being adjudicated solely on the basis of the legitimacy of the ADA claim. What I find disturbing is that the religious affiliation of the school had any impact whatsoever on the case. According to an article in the Washington Post:

Richard W. Garnett, director of Notre Dame Law School’s Program in Church, State, and Society, said the ruling is the court’s most important decision on religious freedom in decades.

“The government doesn’t get to second-guess religious communities’ decisions about who should be their teachers, leaders and ministers,” he said.

via Supreme Court: Discrimination laws do not protect certain religious group workers – The Washington Post.

So religion gets to operate outside the law? Is that what we are supposed to believe? It worked so well in the Catholic church where their brand of internal justice ruined the lives of countless children molested by “teachers, leaders and ministers” who happened to be  pedophiles.

When exactly do we apply this hands-off standard for religion? Why is polygamy not a protected practice within the Mormon church? Why did they have to renounce the practice to maintain their tax exempt status? Perhaps the Roberts Court would like to re-adjudicate that decision? Based on Hosanna-Tabor, if I were a Mormon minister I would most certainly float a test case reestablishing polygamy as legitimate within the church. The Court has established that our government has no right to extend its legal standards to religious institutions, at least so long as they are Christian.

So, the next time you hear some paranoid rant about how we need to protect America from Sharia law, just think about Hosanna-Tabor. We are already on the slippery slope to religious practice trumping American law.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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