Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Runaway Court: SCOTUS bends laws to suit its religious and political beliefs

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is only the latest in a series of SCOTUS verdicts that threaten the impartiality of our laws and our Constitutional system. With their ruling in this case, SCOTUS has picked a side and then tailored its verdict to favor that side. It is no coincidence that all 5 of the conservative Justices on the majority are Catholic. The Catholic church has for decades made its dogma on contraception known. Now SCOTUS has indicated that it agrees with the Pope. Contraception, it says, is wrong.

The owners of Hobby Lobby are not Catholic. Rather, they belong to a Christian sect that opposes all forms of contraception. Hobby Lobby claimed their objection to buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was based on their religious conviction that contraception is tantamount to abortion. SCOTUS, by its verdict in their favor, agrees with them. What is more to the point, five unelected Judges have made the religious beliefs of some Christians the law of the land.

Let me explain. Hobby Lobby claimed that 4 forms or birth control were offensive to their religious beliefs because these forms were actually abortions. Scientists disagree, explaining that in none of these cases was an embryo destroyed. But radical Christians have declared that human life begins at the moment of conception and therefore anything that interferes with the implantation of an embryo is an abortion. SCOTUS agrees with them, at least to the extent that the Court has declared these beliefs, although fallacious, must be respected. Therefore, Hobby Lobby does not need to carry health insurance that covers these forms of birth control.

The beliefs of the women whose health care bills may go up do not matter to SCOTUS. Their beliefs may be sincerely held, but they may still have to pay for their own medical care, because Hobby Lobby will not approve any form of contraception. Of course, when SCOTUS made the ruling, they said the employees would not suffer because Hobby Lobby only had to sign a form explaining their ethical position and return it to the government to escape their obligation.

On Monday, however, we learned that Hobby Lobby may not want to sign that simple form because Wheaton College has received special dispensation from SCOTUS because they claim that even signing a form is too great a burden for their consciences to contend with.

Signing a form is too great a burden. permitting an insurance company to make payments for contraceptives is too great a burden. SCOTUS only supports the Christian groups because the Justices making the ruling share their beliefs.

If anyone should deny that this is true, they should look at another ruling made by a Federal Court in Navajo v. US. In that case, Native Americans objected to drinking water contaminated by human waste because they sincerely believed it would cause "ghost disease". The Federal Court discounted the beliefs of Native Americans, even though the burden the government imposed was physical and real--the Natives Americans would have to drink water they believed was unclean and eat food that had been grown with irrigation from unclean water. The Court ruled this was not a burden for the Native Americans. But SCOTUS ruled that permitting another to make payments or being forced to sign a one-page form was too great a burden for Christians to bear. Judge for yourself whether this court does not favor one religion over another.

No doubt absolutist Christians are elated that SCOTUS has made their religion the law of the land. No one else should be happy about it.

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