Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Understanding the Supreme Court's Ruling in the Hotel Lobby Case - Judicial Activism or Proper Use of SCOTUS Moral Authority?

Supreme Court's Decision in Hotel Lobby Undermines Women's Rights, and Improperly Allows Companies to Withhold Payment for Birth Control in the Name of the Right to Freedom of Religion for Closely-Held Companies

Judicial Activism at its Worst
Yesterday, Elizabeth B. Wydra of CNN.com posted this Opinion concerning the Supreme Court's recent decision in the Hotel Lobby case.  Ms. Wydra correctly notes that the Supreme Court's decision in the Hotel Lobby case improperly, and for the very first time, extends the right of freedom of religion to small, closely-held companies.

Suffragette Setback
Hotel Lobby Decision is Politics at its Worst - in the Supreme Court

So, the question here is, what do you as an American value more - a Supreme Court that follows the Constitution, or a Supreme Court that makes decisions based upon what it perceives to be the the right moral choice?

Putting aside your feelings about birth control, or Women's Rights, I find it worrisome that the Supreme Court would disingenuously suggest that the Constitution supports a determination that the right to Freedom of religion extends to "closely-held companies."  Heck, I am not even sure if "closely-held companies" existed when the Constitution was drafted!

"Sayeth further, that all closely-held companies shall have
the right to Freedom of Religion..."
For me, it is not about the outcome.  Rather, it is about the (very troubling) idea that the Majority Opinion expressed by the Supreme Court elevated the majority's interest in making its moral views the Law of the Land over its primary duty - to make decisions consistent with the United States Constitution.  That is just plain wrong.

No reasonable person could say that the Freedom of Religion clause was intended to extend the right of religious freedom to Corporate America.

We all want what we believe is best for ourselves, and for society.  We all want the Supreme Court to make rulings that favor our views.  Yet, there are larger issues at stake. One that comes to mind? What is best for the citizens of the United States of America?

When our Supreme Court deviates from precedent (the fundamental underpinning of our judicial system, and one that is intended to prevent judicial decisions that are based upon imposing the then-extant moral, ethical and political views of the Judiciary upon society), and extends the reach of a clause as important as the Freedom of Religion clause to corporations, in what can only be seen as a transparent effort to impose its moral views on all of us (i.e. birth control is wrong), we should all worry. Such actions are against the rule of law, which is the heartbeat of America's judicial system which, in turn, is the number one thing that distinguishes us from the rest of the world, and from all empires that preceded ours.

I could see Afghanistan's Supreme Court making such a decision but, despite the warning signs, I could not until yesterday see our Supreme Court doing so.

Justice Roberts, I am ashamed that your are a Phillies fan, and ashamed you came from the Third Circuit, which includes Pennsylvania within its jurisdiction.

What Are the Media and Scholars Saying About the Supreme Court's Decision in the Hotel Lobby Case?

Here are some other articles on the Hotel Lobby decision (title should give you some idea of author's views):

Supreme Court Declares Itself to Be High Priest (The Daily Beast)

Hobby Lobby ruling was right, but so are those who fear what comes next (Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel)

Here is a pretty good article setting forth Five Things You Need to Know About the Hotel Lobby Decision

Hobby Lobby ruling: Bad for women's rights, bad for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (L.A. Times)

The Hobby Lobby Decision Was a Victory for Women's Rights (The New Republic)

Supreme Court Rules in Hotel Lobby Case, Dealing Blow to Birth Control Coverage (Huffington Post)

Hotel Lobby Decision: Moral Values Versus Strict Construction of Constitution Versus Judicial Activism

So, you may like the outcome, or you may not.  But what we may want to ask ourselves is this:  Do I want to give a bunch of political appointees with lifetime job security, and in this case a majority who are from a far different generation than our children, carte blanche to manipulate the Constitution to reach a decision that is in step with their moral values?

I don't.


Here, I suppose, is the "liberals' view." Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's Dissent in the Hotel Lobby Case.

Is It Possible to read Her Dissent
Without Considering Subject Matter of decision?
Sigh.  It really is a shame this decision is being politicized because of its subject matter.  It is not about the outcome of the case, or the moral views of the Supreme Court or Women's Rights activists.  It is about the views expressed by Justice Ginsberg which, well, I should let speak for themselves.

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