With the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the U.S. Supreme Court, conservatives are giddy with the prospect of replacing her on the Court before the upcoming election. Many LDS Republicans I know stated that their sole reason for voting for Trump (although they favored other candidates) was to get conservative Supreme Court nominations. This has become one of the biggest energizers of the conservative movement in the United States. And they definitely got what they wanted in that regard.
This morning, Twitter was trending with the word “Spineless” in reference to Mormonism’s own Mitt Romney. Many Democrats had assumed that his willingness to vote yes on one of the articles of impeachment meant that he would uphold the precedent conservatives set that no SCOTUS nominations should occur in an election year. This was the justification used to block Merrick Garland, Obama’s final nomination, a justice with support from both parties, but apparently not enough. Before RBG could be laid to rest, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gleefully announced that they would push through a nomination (the third of this presidency) immediately, ahead of the election which is in three weeks. The actual confirmation is likely to occur during the “lame duck” period in which elected officials that have not be re-elected are completing their terms before their successors take over.
Violating this norm of delaying nominations when openings occur during an election was viewed as hypocrisy by the left, but since the left has no power to block it, I suppose that doesn’t really matter. Partisan politics rule in this country. There is no longer any pretense that working across the aisle is a virtue. What’s going to happen is going to happen. Might makes right. People will use whatever power they have to accomplish their priorities. This strategy only works when voters approve of it. The more partisan voters generally do. The independents may find it unsavory. It’s likely that Romney will be the deciding vote in confirming Trump’s conservative SCOTUS pick. Pushing this nomination through so quickly is desired by the right because polling shows they may lose both the presidency and the Senate majority in the upcoming election.
That picture of Mitt eating those bland scallops, looking like Trump just made him eat an actual turd, still says it all to me–and not just about the culinary quality of Trump’s hotels. But is Romney spineless (acting out of social pressure or fear of negative Trump Tweets) or like many Mormons does he want to fill the court with conservative justices because that’s his priority? He says the latter, and that’s probably true. So what are these conservatives hoping SCOTUS will do for them? Here’s a list of things that I’ve heard discussed:
- Abortion. This is by far the most oft-cited reason most of my Mormon friends voted for Trump, despite the fact that the current GOP’s actions are far more draconian and anti-choice than the Church’s stance (not allowing exceptions for rape, incest, health of mother or viability of fetus as the Church does). That so many of my fellow Mormons are sucked into this argument gives me real pause about the ability of Mormons to engage in critical thinking, empathy and compassion. Additionally, we do not have a theological reason to believe that the spirit enters the body at conception as do Catholics, as I have blogged about before. While nearly everyone in the know thinks that overturning Roe v. Wade is unlikely due to precedent, conservatives are still interested in letting states enact anti-choice legislation that makes it nearly impossible to get a safe, legal abortion in their state. Some legislators have gone so far as to claim that it’s not possible to get pregnant from rape, and to recommend criminal investigation of miscarriages to ensure they weren’t the byproduct of an abortion. Additionally, some states have added obstacles to abortion that are designed to prevent women from getting access, such as requiring multiple invasive and unnecessary pelvic exams, requiring multiple pre-abortion appointments that put an undue burden on women in poverty or in areas without public transportation, or requiring doctors to carry (unnecessary due to it being a low-risk outpatient procedure) admitting privileges to a hospital; the hospitals then deny those privileges, resulting in no abortion in the state. There are two issues that aren’t being seriously discussed: 1) that making it illegal isn’t how you reduce abortion, providing education, access to birth control, and reducing the wealth gap are, and 2) two-thirds of Americans support Roe v. Wade.
- Affordable Care Act. Speaking of Mitt Romney, many conservatives seek to eliminate Obamacare. They object to it on several grounds: 1) libertarians object to a mandate to purchase health insurance, particularly one that includes a fine for non-compliance, 2) the ACA isn’t that affordable and didn’t mandate that the costs be kept to reasonable levels (fair point), 3) healthcare providers object to the ACA law that prevents them from refusing to cover pre-existing conditions which raises their costs rather than allowing those people to die or go bankrupt from medical bills, 4) conservatives object to government involvement in healthcare as they prefer private companies and “free” market; they don’t believe the government runs things as well as corporations, 5) some companies object to providing birth control coverage to employees and dislike that it is required by the ACA (although they got around that in a 2020 ruling). 68% of Americans oppose stripping away protections for pre-existing conditions, but Trump has vowed to do it.
- Deregulation. In general, conservatives favor de-regulation that will encourage corporations to do more business in the US rather than in other countries with fewer regulations. This often includes things like labor laws that favor companies over employees, legislation against pollutants, governmental oversight of industries (e.g. FCC, FTC, OSHA, EPA, etc.) that restricts what companies are allowed to do in their industries. As a side gig to this trend, religious Republicans often oppose public education as well and have made it a priority to gut funding for public schools and divert this money to private or religious education.
- Discrimination (aka “Religious Freedom”). Socially progressive policies regarding LGBT rights, gender equality, and racial equality often turn up at the Supreme Court. Proponents of religious freedom seek to expand who qualifies for ministerial exception or to be exempt from the anti-discrimination laws that have passed in the US that prevent employers and service providers from discriminating against customers and employees on the basis of sex or for other reasons that are protected by law. These laws exist to allow all citizens equal access to services and goods, employment, and freedom to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The current version of “religious freedom” wants to expand the right of individuals to follow the dictates of their own conscience to corporations they own. Some seek to make a very broad allowance for business owners to claim a religious exemption. Churches have always had this right to ministerial exception (as well as tax exemption, which frankly gives Churches preferential treatment).
Since Trump won the 2016 election while getting 3 million fewer popular votes than opponent Hillary Clinton, there has been a lot of discussion about the growing concern of a religious minority (Evangelicals chiefly, but their political bedfellows: Catholics and Mormons) controlling policy in contradiction to what the majority of American citizens want. This is a risk inherent in the electoral college (which is how Trump won), in the Senate (which gives equal representation to Wyoming and California), and in the judicial branch (which appoints justices for life).
As I looked into this, I found out a few things that were surprising to me. The first was that there is no requirement that you have to have a legal background to be appointed to SCOTUS. But the really alarming thing that I discovered is that 6 of our current 9 justices are Catholic . That’s highly unusual given that we’ve only ever had one Catholic President of the US and Catholics comprise about 20%-22% of the US. Among the three conservative religious groups I listed, only Catholics are anti-birth control, and while Evangelicals oppose abortion, only Catholics have a clearly delineated theological objection to it based on a belief that the soul begins at conception.
I have no beef with Catholics in general, but let’s be clear: many of their dogmas are not compatible with the rights and values of Americans as a whole. While some have been concerned that Justice Kavanaugh would be loyal to Trump who appointed him, I think that’s less of an issue since appointments last a lifetime; retribution from politicians isn’t a thing. I do generally believe that justices will vote their conscience rather than “dance with the girl that brought them.”
There are also some sects within Catholicism that are very conservative to the point that they reside far outside mainstream American values. For example, Trump has said Amy Coney Barrett is one of his top picks. She has said:
“A legal career is but a means to an end . . . and that end is building the Kingdom of God.”
Yikes, yikes, yikes.
She is also part of a parachurch organization that believes women are the property of their husbands and must consult with a ranking Church leader on all decision making. Until the show The Handmaid’s Tale became popular, the group actually referred to wives as handmaids. In fact, Margaret Atwood cites People of Praise as one of the groups that inspired her to write her dystopian novel back in the 1980s. This simply paints her as what she likely is: an ultraconservative with priorities that are radically different from mainstream values. As the linked article says:
“I don’t think that People of Praise has caused her (Barrett) to be as conservative as she is. I think that she’s doubtless a member of People of Praise because she already was that conservative.”
Some have blamed Ginsberg for not retiring in 2013 when Obama could replace her with a liberal justice and maintain a balanced court. I’m not so sure, though. We would have had 7 fewer years in which she was able to influence her SCOTUS peers, American culture at large, particularly the lives of women, and be involved in many different rulings. But yes, from a strategic perspective, it certainly appears to have caused irreparable harm to the balance of the courts which no longer reflect the will of the people. It’s still possible, though, that through a combination of belief in precedent, a willingness to be flexible to societal trends, and the influence of the more liberal court members that rulings will not cause huge societal shifts. The point of conservatism is to maintain status quo, not to pull so hard to the right that we end up in Gilead. Time will tell.
- Do you find a majority Catholic SCOTUS alarming? Do you think a more conservative SCOTUS will make any of the changes the religious minority behind the GOP seeks? Which ones?
- Do you think cramming through a nomination will impact the upcoming election for POTUS and the Senate? If so, which party do you think will benefit and why?
- What do you think will happen if the Supreme Court becomes totally out of sync with majority opinion of the populace? Do you think that is likely to happen or not?
- Do you think RBG should have retired in 2013?
 Although after 2016, I’m not going to count my chickens.
 I’m not saying he’s not spineless. Backbone isn’t exactly his brand, although I don’t think he’s terrible, just not consistently principled. I just think he wants a conservative court because he doesn’t care too much about the rights of women or LGBT, but he favors deregulation for businesses.
 They can burn in hell and probably will.
 When my Church friend hysterically decried “government death panels” that would decide who lived and died, I had to remind her that I was literally denied coverage by a private company for life-saving brain surgery, and that we’ve already been living under “death panels” that deny coverage for pre-existing conditions our whole lives. Pull your heads out, people!
 Gorsuch was raised Roman Catholic, but has also identified as Episcopalian at times.
 e.g. Trump in this case.
**Post title is an obvious reference to Opus Dei, the secretive Catholic organization described, probably inaccurately, in Dan Brown’s book The Davinci Code. I had heard that Clarence Thomas is in Opus Dei, but this article claims Alito, Scalia and possibly Roberts also have Opus Dei ties.
“Do you find a majority Catholic SCOTUS alarming?”
Not without more information. Sotomayor, e.g., is one of the Catholics on the Court. Many Catholics openly disagree with the Pope, with Catholic Church policy, and with some Catholic “doctrine.” They’re not worried about temple recommends. 🙂
On the other hand, your report on Amy Coney Barrett is alarming.
This post seems bigoted to me, which surprises and disappoints me. I usually love your posts.
People of Praise was not the inspiration for The Handmaid’s Tale. She cited a different organization, People of Hope.
See the correction at the bottom of this article: https://www.newsweek.com/amy-coney-barrett-people-praise-group-inspired-handmaids-tale-1533293
If the Dems take the Senate and White House, hopefully they pack the court and/or attempt to impeach Kavanaugh for lying under oath. Hypocrite Republicans. Let’s make them pay dearly for this.
Really? Are you saying that if the roles And circumstances were reversed, the Dems would not do the same thing regarding SCOTUS?
Politicians (not all) saying one thing and then eventually doing another – oh my, it’s shocking! (Hint, “you can keep your health care and it will be cheaper…”)
Romney, actually he would have probably made a good president.
I don’t love the direction the court is headed in or the hypocrisy in Washington but I don’t think it’s the end of the world either. My big three on SCOTUS are abortion, LGBTQ rights, and guns. The Court is extremely unlikely to reverse Roe v Wade (and in any event, if the court truly doesn’t reflect the American population, we can fight those battles in legislatures). We have a very recent LGBTQ decision affirming gay marriage, so that’s not going away, as well as on employment discrimination. We already have a lot of pro-gun decisions so that won’t likely improve regardless.
I also think Roberts is keenly aware that the legitimacy of the Court is hanging in the balance right now. He’s been shockingly liberal / moderate lately. I could see some of the more moderates inching left because (a) it’s natural to creep left if you’ve got someone else on the right you’re reacting to, and (b) they don’t want courts to be viewed as politicized institutions.
I disagree that a Catholic composition is alarming. Yes there are some very conservative Catholics. But I think that’s by far the minority, Catholics have a way bigger range of belief than a lot of more centralized religions, and probably not fair to assume the worst.
Really, we should reform SCOTUS. 18 year rotating terms that change on a predictable basis.
Nice discussion, hawkgrrrrl and others, but it’s not like the Republicans are executing some nefarious scheme to subvert the Constitution. The President nominates and the Senate confirms. If fair and valid elections put a Republican President and a Republican majority Senate in place, the foreseeable result will be conservative jurists nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court. If there’s a complaint to be made, it would be to the people (as in The People of the United States) who elected Republicans.
That’s a tough complaint to make in a democracy, of course. “Oh you stupid people who elected Senators and a President I don’t like” is just sour grapes. Take it a step further (“We shouldn’t let stupid people decide elections, they shouldn’t vote, let’s call in the generals to set things right”) and you’re off the democratic map into third-world authoritarianism. Hilary maybe should have won the 2016 election, but she also should have run a better campaign. (Go read Shattered, the book about her failed campaign.) Complain about her. Or stop complaining and just start winning elections.
McConnell’s statements in 2016 didn’t establish new constitutional norms — they were just the standard political-speak that we hear from Senators and Representatives all the time. Below the surface is political reality that controls (or strongly influences) actual political outcomes. Political reality is that if the President and the majority of the Senate are of the same party, a nomination can be quickly made and will likely sail through, and the nominee will be rather conservative or rather liberal (to the extent these labels carry over to jurisprudence). That’s 2020. If the President and the majority of the Senate are of different parties, it will be a longer process with some compromises on both sides (neither gets the SC Justice they really want). That’s 2016. I’m no fan of the political status quo in Washington, but we’re talking about Political Reality. Deal with it. And try a little harder to win elections in 2020.
This post raises a lot of interesting questions. My .02:
1. Romney is not spineless. He is, like most successful politicians, a performer, and his sense of integrity is therefore performative. And once one’s sense of integrity is performative, it’s infinitely malleable and therefore not subject to moral absolutes. He can take a seemingly principled stand against Trump and vote for one article of impeachment (and be strangely lauded by the ever-gullible and naive Left) and also support the choosing of the new SCOTUS judge even though we’re right up against election and a majority of Americans want to wait until after the election (and thus be lauded by the cynical, hypocritical Right). Someone like Romney would consider both actions acts of integrity even though they’re really just him trying to perform publicly a kind of principled earnestness. In reality, he’s just displaying an even deeper cynicism than is usually evident in American politics, since Romney actively uses the rhetoric of integrity to try to prop himself up whereas most career politicians do so a bit more subtly.
2. I don’t know that I’m terribly concerned about the number of Catholics on the court as much as I’m concerned about how many zealots are on the court and I include left-leaning zealots in that categorization. What most concerns me about the court and about America generally is that I believe America is (and the court has the potential to be) suffering from terminal righteousness. The Left and the Right in this country both think they have the moral high ground. I don’t know of any self-perception that is better designed to prevent true dialogue from taking place. As your post points out, “reaching across the aisle” is now seen as a weakness, not a strength; a failed strategy, not a successful one. That’s due in part to the fact that both the Left and the Right have co-opted the rhetoric and mindset of a kind of rabidly dogmatic religious framework wherein any deviation from ideological purity is punished by exclusion from the group. That kind of thinking merely hardens the lines already drawn in the sand. I don’t know what the solution is, but simply shouting at each other isn’t going to get it done. Even if Biden wins and more liberal judges are appointed over the next four years, restoring a balance to the court, the stark divisions in this country aren’t going to magically disappear.
Also, what Dave B and Elisa said.
Lots of ridiculous bothsidesism in the comments.
“Are you saying that if the roles And circumstances were reversed, the Dems would not do the same thing regarding SCOTUS?”
Take this hypothetical further. Hillary wins 2016 (although losing the popular vote by 3 million) and Dems take the Senate. She appoints 2 justices and stands to appoint a third with under 2 months before the election. Of course you, noble commenter, wouldn’t be crying foul at this point because you’re perfectly impartial. The Republicans wouldn’t talk about packing the court and impeaching a Hillary pick who clearly lied under oath and whom no Republican Senator voted to confirm?
“but we’re talking about Political Reality. Deal with it. And try a little harder to win elections in 2020.”
That’s right Dave B. The political reality is that we have a criminal in office who lost an election by nearly 3 million votes. How dare we complain. I tell you what. If the Democrats win this election, add more Supreme Court justices to the bench and conservatism is crushed and I hear you complain, I’ll happily write a snarky comment about how that is the political reality and you need to deal with it. Big difference between what is constitutional (with all its amendments and different interpretations) and what is the right thing to do. Hold hypocrites accountable.
Here’s a suggestion that is meant to deescalate things a bit, but probably won’t. Assuming Democrats take both the White House and Senate, they should move to increase the size of the court by two justices immediately and another two in 2025. In the short term, that would restore the status quo ante–namely a one seat conservative majority (6-5 instead of the 5-4 that prevailed until last week and that would have prevailed in the near future had the Senate voted on Merrick Garland–yes, he had the votes) with Roberts representing the swing vote. The 2024 election would then determine the long-term implications.
For the record, I favor fixed terms, although I would go with 9 years instead of 18. The 18-year term increases the risk of deaths in office that would upset the balance of each presidential term getting the same number of picks.
One of the interesting aspects of this issue is that President Trump isn’t the hypocrite this time. From Mitch McConnel to Lindsey Graham and everyone in between, Republican senators have shown themselves to be utter hypocrites. And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if Democrats controlled the White House and US Senate they would do the same thing. I’d say 95 of the 100 US senators are hypocritical on this issue. However, Trump, who has no respect for institutions or bipartisanship, has absolutely no reason not to nominate the next Supreme Court justice. There’s virtually no reason for him not to do so and he is not hypocritical in any way for doing so. I never thought he’d be the good guy be this is one of those rare situations.
I’m not sure which party will benefit from this fight. I think both sides are already highly motivated.
Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholicism, per se, does not concern me. As a previous poster said, her zealotry does. I don’t think the courts should be in the business of building the kingdom of God because I don’t know what that looks like to her. I would have liked for at least one Republican to say they would only consider voting for the president’s nominee once they’ve had the change to vet and interview them.
As for the laundry list of things the court may influence in coming months and years, the one that concerns me the most is healthcare. This is an impending disaster for this country, and I don’t get the impression most people understand it all that well. Diabetes is exploding. Life expectancy is falling. We have third world life expectancy and infant mortality numbers. Costs are rising all the time and both hospitals and insurance companies are incentivized to NOT control costs because it diminishes their bottom like. The marketplace does not function in a way that benefits the consumers. Some would argue it does not function at all. The ACA was an effort short of universal care to cover the millions who could not get coverage
Garee, the continued use of arguably Obama’s most enduring misstatement obscures the reality of both the law and healthcare but perfectly illustrates how Americans treat politics like high-school football. I believe Obama didn’t yet fully understand law and he made a mistake. Others will see more sinister motives.
The ACA was never intended as an end-all. Like Medicare and Medicaid, it was designed as a starting point with certain essential requirements like coverage for pre-existing conditions and the individual mandate. Numerous amendments were expected. Many Americans recoil in horror when anything socialized is presented, but there will come a time when socialized medicine of some sort is necessary because costs will make healthcare unobtainable for millions, and many of them will die as a result. The ACA is really, really imperfect, but the Democrats tried to do something about healthcare. The Republicans have done nothing, ever.
The court, which is the subject of hawkgrrl’s post, is going to play a part in how the ACA plays out. I would assume a conservative justice will vote to eliminate the law entirely and that Roberts will vote with the liberal wing to retain it because he understands the fallout and that trying to run a federal government while actively undermining it’s legitimacy has consequences.
Dave B, that McConnell plays the hardest of ball is unquestionable. The 2016 refusal to even give Merrick Garland a vote was unprecedented and complies with neither the letter nor the spirit of the Senate’s constitutional advise and consent role.
josh h, not being a blatant hypocrite makes Trump the good guy? The bar is low indeed.
jaredsbrother: I don’t disagree with you. I’m simply pointing out that for once, Trump isn’t the bad guy. Many conservatives like me can’t stand what he’s done to the Republican Party and the presidency and of course all Democrats and liberals can’t stand the guy. But for once, the utter hypocrisy is found in the US Senate. You are right, the bar is low
” … The really alarming thing that I discovered is that 6 of our current 9 justices are Catholic ….Let’s be clear: many of their dogmas are not compatible with the rights and values of Americans as a whole. ”
I am extremely disappointed in this post. I come to Wheat and Tares to avoid this kind of blatant bigotry. I am reluctant to use the word bigotry, but I’m afraid it applies here. Let’s not let Wheat and Tares become an outpost of 21st-century Know-Nothingism.
lastlemming, agreed. Term limits would be great.
Justice should in part reflect the moods of the time. I have strong reason to believe that the mood will shift liberal in the coming decades. Economic turmoil, climate change, dying out of older generation, increasing racial diversity in the US, and other factors will cause it to do so (and in the words of Dave B., “deal with it”). Future generations shouldn’t have to be beholden to the opinions of too many Trump appointees (three picks in 4 years, ridiculous). All of his appointments have been unfair. Merrick Garland, who had conservative leanings showing how willing to compromise Obama was (because we all know that Democrats are the only ones who have to compromise), should have replaced Scalia. Kavanaugh lied under oath and showed himself to have no temperament to be a judge. And now this third pick comes under two months before an election that could very well be contested and require the intervention of the Supreme Court to settle. If Trump is declared victor of a contested election by the Supreme Court, I’m taking to the streets to demand justice and democracy along with what will undoubtedly be millions of other Americans. Republicans have shown numerous signs that they are against democracy (deal with that Dave B.). A Trump “victory” of a contested election is the last straw.
And don’t tell me how the Democrats would do the same to justify bad behavior on Republican side. Democrats have been far more respecting towards the fairness of process than have the Republicans. Trump has routinely lied and cheated to maintain power. His campaign colluded with the Russians in the 2016 and he called on a foreign government to investigate a political rival in clear violation of the constitution. Anyone you can’t recognize and call out Republican hypocrisy is a coward. Anyone who thinks that the parties are mirror sides of each other and that there is an equivalent to Trump on the Democratic side is delusional.
Wow, wow, wow, I did not expect such religious bigotry from progressive Mormons. Hawkgirl, imagine replacing “Catholics” with “Jews” or “Mormons” or any other faith. Being a devout Catholic (that is, following the Catholic Church’s basic teachings, including supporting pro-life traditions) doesn’t disqualify anyone from public office. Thank goodness our Founding Fathers specifically forbad religious tests.
Judge Barrett’s quote about building up the Kingdom of God through her professional career is absolutely consistent with LDS practices and beliefs (this quote could have been said by any LDS general authority). It is along the lines of BYU’s motto of “enter to learn and go forth to serve”. If professional careers (whether it be a janitor, teacher, or CEO) don’t build up the Kingdom, then why bother with Church-funded secular education, like the BYUs?
If you think there are too many Catholics on the Supreme Court, what about too many Ivy League grads (100 percent)? Shouldn’t we have more diversity of experience and thought than from those indoctrinated by a small group of left-leaning colleges? Mormons are disproportionately represented in Congress (as are Jews). Are you similarly concerned?
Frankly, I’m shocked that you so casually express such anti-Catholic bigotry and that nearly all of the preceding comments don’t seem to care (or even recognize this). Coming from “progressives”. Next time you want to post a blog on bigotry, take the beam out of your own eye first.
John W: you said “Democrats have been far more respecting towards the fairness of process than have the Republicans”.
I don’t know how old you are or whether you are aware of recent Supreme Court History. But the nomination wars as we now know them really began in 1987 with President Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork. In fact, we now use the term “borked” to describe when a nominee gets personally attacked. And don’t even get me started on the character attack of Clarence Thomas (he said she said) and Brent Kavanaugh (accusers totally discredited). For you to assert that Democrats are more respectful of the process is the most MSNBC thing I’ve heard all week. And I’m no fan of Fox News.
This blog post is shameful and should be taken down. I don’t want W&T to be tarnished as an anti-Catholic, bigoted blog.
Arguing against Judge Barrett’s political positions based on their merits (or lack thereof) is perfectly fine. But you cross the line when ascribe her positions to her being Catholic and argue that her personal religious faith keeps her from fairly performing her duties. You are implying that she is beholden to the Pope (or to some barely known Catholic sub group or something — get out your tin foil hats). We’ve seen this type of bigotry directed to LDS politicians all the time (although usually just towards those with an “R” behind their name). Please don’t damage the reputation of this blog with posts like this.
josh h, Bork was not confirmed because he was a bigoted fool and Senator Ted Kennedy rightly called him out on this. The seat that he was supposed to fill went to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was confirmed 97-0. Senators aren’t obligated to vote to confirm a nominee. Kavanaugh may have sexually assaulted girls in the past. And he showed he had no temperament to a Supreme Court Justice. Republicans should have voted against him and Trump should have picked someone else, just like Reagan did with Kennedy. Also it used to be that 60 votes were needed to confirm. Republicans have not respected that but have used the nuclear option. Republicans aren’t playing fair.
There are many things that could be said after reading this post. The one that stands out for me is how the court redefined marriage with the vote of a supposed Catholic conservative, Justice Roberts. I was all for a union for gays, one that fits the reality gays can’t get around–it takes a man and a woman to conceive a child.
Redefining marriage as the SCOTUS did is another sign of where this great gentile nation has descended. I fear for our nation. We are moving in the direction the Nephites did as outlined in the book of Helaman. That is not a good place to find ourselves in. As the Spirit of the Lord withdraws we will suffer one misery after another until we repent as a people.
and who changed the vote count for federal judges from 60 to 50? None other than your Harry Reid. Then Republicans copied that for Supreme Court justices. This is fun.
This blog post is poorly researched and repeats inaccurate information. No, Margaret Atwood did not base her book “The Handmaid’s Tale” on People of Praise (she has never mentioned this group). Instead she mentioned a group called People of Hope as being a part of her research for the book (see Newsweek’s correction at the bottom of their article, which started this particular slander).
The Reuter’s article that’s linked in this blog post reads like the typical anti-Mormon trash that misrepresents and distorts what goes on in LDS temples. People use the same kind of induendo and speculation about secret oaths, loyalties, and hidden beliefs of Mormons. So unsophisticated and trashy for supposedly progressive journalists and bloggers to rely on. How about interviews and quotes from current, active participants in this group instead?
Josh h, from Wikipedia:
“In November 2013, Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid used the nuclear option to eliminate the 60-vote rule on executive branch nominations and federal judicial appointments, but not for the Supreme Court.”
that’s what i said
Jews and Catholics have both had a presence on the Court vastly disproportionate to their proportions of either the population or other high political offices. For that matter, so have Harvard, Yale, and Columbia law grads. In my view, both of those trends have contributed to a hyperqualified, culturally elite, scary-smart bench, which is desirable.
When you image a Court that reflects the largest demographic in American high office (WASP men), it starts to look less special (less elite, less racially diverse, less socially determined) and more like a frat party with (black) robes.
But of course, even some Catholics can pull off the frat boy swag (lookin’ at you, Bart).
I’m holding out hope that Romney is playing it close to the vest; that he’s not publicly opposing the nomination process, but will allow the process to move forward, and let things unfold over several weeks while the Trump nominee gets eviscerated in the court of public opinion. Meanwhile, he can build a behind-the-scenes coalition of 2 or 3 principled republicans to vote against her confirmation. By that time, the election will be decided and the task of confirming the next nominee will have to wait until a new congress convenes in January. Here’s hoping.
As was mentioned earlier, Romney has scruples, but his principles can be tricky to pin down. I didn’t see it coming when he voted to convict. Mike Lee, despite being a right-wing tool, is a consistent and predictable tool. But Romney can sometimes have a stroke of common sense, and I hope he does in this instance.
josh h: “And don’t even get me started on the character attack of Clarence Thomas (he said she said) and Brent Kavanaugh (accusers totally discredited).” Wow, we really didn’t see the same things. Not only do I fully believe Anita Hill over Clarence Thomas, but I also find his ultra-conservative voting record to be problematic. He is one of the zealots of the court. As for Kavanaugh, while I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t know he terrorized Blasey-Ford, my opinion based on his and her testimony is that he probably did it. He drank a lot in high school and was part of a brotherhood of toxic masculinity, another feature of many Catholic schools.
This really isn’t about Catholicism in general, though. Catholics come from many walks of life and hold a variety of views. Their current Pope is amazing and worth envying. Zealotry is concerning, though, and one key reason that so many justices are Catholic is that they are typically drawn from the same pool of people who clerk for one another and are given the experiences to make them “qualified.” Kavanaugh was mentored by Anthony Kennedy, and both of them were in Opus Dei. If we had a SCOTUS that comprised of 6 of 9 temple recommend holding Mormons, that would also be weird, in fact, even weirder. Additionally, nearly all the social issues that go to SCOTUS are things that groups like Opus Dei have a stance on. Unlike those who were concerned that Romney would take direction from SLC (which still makes me go “hmmm”) I think the real issue is who joins elite groups like this (vs. more mainstream groups like Knights of Columbus)? Are we seeing that they are attracted to these groups because they are extreme outliers in terms of religious zealousness? Or is this more like a fraternity to them (which still yikes, but on a different level), a way to become an “insider” and get access to valuable mentorships?
Elisa: Your comment that Roberts is concerned about appearing to represent the people is a comfort in all of this. Ultimately, as I explained to my son who was very alarmed, the courts do listen to the people and each other in making their calls, and they are not politicians and ideally not partisan. They rely on precedent more often than they set it, and reversing social equality is difficult to achieve without a revolt.
Josh h, like I said, Republicans aren’t playing fair when it comes to Supreme Court confirmations. Harry Reid didn’t change the rules on Supreme Court confirmations because he respected the need for bipartisanship to confirm a SCOTUS justice. And that’s the main issue. SCOTUS picks should be above the partisan fray and committed to the law and the US Constitution not a particular party or popular political ideology. And Democrats have showed a commitment to keep it that way. Republicans have treated it more like picking an additional member of Congress. Obama picked a conservative justice for crying out loud. Where do you get off calling the Democrats unfair or at least more so than the Republicans? Makes no sense.
John: how do I get off calling Democrats unfair? Very easy to do so. Here’s the confirmation vote counts for every Republican nominee since Clarence Thomas:
Notice how every Republican nomination is a close vote (a margin of 4 votes)
Notice how the average Dem nomination won by a margin of 68 (vs 4 for Republicans).
correction: margin of 8 not 4
Josh H, that’s a bad argument. Perhaps some nominees (those by Democratic Presidents) are simply better candidates or at least more moderate. There are other possibilities. Come on, you’re smarter than that comment.
Josh H, that’s not an argument for supposed democratic unfairness as much as it is evidence of the generally lower quality of republican SCOTUS nominees.
brian: i fully expect democrats to make the argument that their nominees are better, thus they get more votes. but then you need to concede that democrats might be more partisan.
if you want to make the argument that Kagan or Sotomayor are moderates, we’ll have to agree to disagree. And yet those two averaged 66 YES votes, still way above the Republican average of 54. It’s pretty apparent to me that Democrats are more partisan in this process starting with their personal attacks against nominees and ending with their votes.
…as for how smart I am, I hope we don’t vote on that 🙂
This unfortunate post raises several issues, apart from the issue of whether the Senate should vote on a replacement to RBG , before the inauguration in January 2021 of either Trump for a second term, or Biden as our next President. I personally think the Senate should defer the vote until the new year, and I hope that Biden wins and names RBG’s successor.
Having said that, this post is the first time I have seen anti-Catholic bigotry on W and T. W and T can be very good, but there are times, and this is one of them, that the free exchange of ideas can become shabby.
While we are at it, if we’re going after Catholics, why don’t we complain about the “undue influence” of Jews on the court? Kagan, Breyer, and Ginsburg are/were all Jews. Only 2 percent of the general population, you know, but (until RBG tragically died after her long and courageous fight with cancer) they were—-gasp—-33 percent of the SC! If anti-Catholic bigotry is acceptable, then let’s resurrect all the evil canards about Jewish conspiracies over the centuries, while we’re at it. You will always find people willing to go after the Jews.
Or maybe we can complain about the under representation of Protestants on the Court? There is only one Protestant on the Court, Gorsuch (who was raised Catholic). Hawkgrrrl’s complaint about Catholics on the Court sounds just like the Protestant ministers who questioned JFK’s American qualifications when he ran for President in 1960, claiming he would take orders from Rome. JFK’s speech to the council of Protestant Ministers in 1960 is an important speech on American history, well worth reading. It actually persuaded many Protestants to vote for JFK.
For the record, one of the Catholics on the Court is that dangerous alt-right conservative, Sonia Sotomayor. My point being, contrary to the lurid claims made by Hawkgrrrl, the Catholics on the Court are hardly a monolithic group.
It also is insensitive to RBG’s memory to discuss whether she should have retired in 2013. Beloved as RBG was by progressives, she was first and foremost her own person, and made it clear that she would make her decisions, based on what she thought was right—not others. She had formed a close friendship with Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the SC and a moderate conservative in the Anthony Kennedy mold, and was dismayed that O’Connor had retired too early (facing pressure to take care of her ailing husband). RBG was not going to let people claiming to be her ideological allies pressure her into resigning, so that Obama could have appointed a younger progressive to succeed her. She had spent her whole life fighting for the right of women to do what they wanted to—and that included her.
Hawkgrrrl has written many fine things for W and T. I hope that in her next piece, she returns to her usual standards.
Josh H, you write: “brian: i fully expect democrats to make the argument that their nominees are better, thus they get more votes. but then you need to concede that democrats might be more partisan.”
How so, Josh? There’s no way I would need to concede that given what I wrote. Look, I’m not trying to pick a fight. I think you’ve made some good points in this thread. But that chart isn’t one of them.
Josh h, you just proved my point. Republicans have historically chosen more ideologically driven justices that they force through on nuclear options. Democrats have historically chosen justices that both sides can agree on (RBG being one of the biggest proponents of justice and fairness there has ever been, may she rest in peace, total heroine). There was hyper-partisanship under Obama and he still chose justices that Republicans could agree to vote on. I can not reiterate it enough, Merrick Garland was conservative-leaning based on his past rulings and legal opinions.
You’re arguing that Democrats aren’t playing fair because they aren’t voting to confirm. Again, Senators are not under obligation to vote to confirm. If too many Senators are indicating that they will not vote to confirm, then the president needs to choose another person. The reason for Senatorial confirmation is to keep a president from choosing a yes man and someone beholden to his or her interests and party interests. Democratic picks have been far more fair and respectful to how separation of powers was meant to be under the Constitution.
You seem a bit drunk on bothsidesism and are trying to drive a point that just doesn’t hold. I’ll make this my last comment (although I’ll read subsequent ones) and end by quoting one of my favorite Metallica songs entitled entitled “…And Justice For All” (I can’t imagine a more apropos song to describe our current situation in the US, I encourage all to listen) sums up my feelings with regard to the Republicans perfectly: “the ultimate in vanity, exploiting their supremacy…seeking no truth, winning is all.”
I don’t read any anti-Catholic bigotry in the OP, just the author pointing out the facts of the makeup of the current court and the likely nominee. If anything, I see it more as a criticism of religious extremism finding its way onto the High Court, which I agree is dangerous (justices should be flexible in their thinking).
To their credit, Catholics in recent decades have become known for being more accepting of a wide spectrum of belief and expression, which I think is critical to the survival of the institutional church. And Jews have been doing that for even longer. Meanwhile, Mormonism has been doing the opposite.
Just a quick correction. In the article you state, “ahead of the election which is in three weeks”. Unless I missed some pretty major news, that’s not correct 😉
Brian and others: we can agree to disagree. what i’ve learned today is that I enjoy W&T more for Church-related content than I do content related to politics. My bad for taking the bait in the first place.
If I can, josh, h, I would argue that it is not your bad for taking the bait. This forum is generally respectful and thoughtful, even with regard to politics. The alternatives are cesspools, and that includes Facebook. We need more of this, despite the discomfort of some, not less.
Don’t want to pile on but @Josh H, seriously disagree with your characterization of Thomas & Kavanuagh. Kavanaugh accusers discredited? Huh? Must have missed when that happened?
Agree with Angela – he might not remember that happened, but I think it’s very likely to have happened, and his reaction to it and conduct during the hearing was gross.
Doug A: LOL, right you are. I think I have lost the ability to reckon time during the pandemic. In a way I kind of wish the election were in 3 weeks, not 7, although it’s more accurate to say it’s underway as early voting is already underway.
Taiwan Missionary: You are right to point out the the Catholic members of SCOTUS are not monolithic. True enough. It does appear that the left likes to nominate Jewish judges (and some Catholics, Sotomayor), and the right nominates a variety, but lately it’s been mostly Catholics. It is also odd that we have never had a Jewish POTUS given how many Jewish justices we’ve had. I did note in reading up on this that we also haven’t had an openly LGBT justice yet, and we haven’t had an openly atheist/agnostic justice yet. Actual religious belief can be hard to pin down. It’s just puzzling that we are so different in how we as a country at least attempt to disqualify POTUS based on religious views (JFK and Romney come to mind, although interestingly we’ve had 3 POTUS from the relatively small Disciples of Christ religion) that we flock to when it comes to SCOTUS.
Ultimately, I’d like to see a return to the value of Dems & Republicans figuring out how to work together rather than attempting to become even more divisive. My only hope is that justices will not be so extreme that they force the country in a direction the majority of citizens don’t want with regard to discrimination, healthcare and reproductive rights. Extremists should always be the unhappy ones. The alarming expansion of so-called religious freedom is evidence that we’ve preferenced religion to the point that individual citizens are no longer protected by the court from religious preferences they don’t share, and that can lead to a non-pluralist society. But I will hope for the best.
Jomamma: “Arguing against Judge Barrett’s political positions based on their merits (or lack thereof) is perfectly fine. But you cross the line when ascribe her positions to her being Catholic and argue that her personal religious faith keeps her from fairly performing her duties. You are implying that she is beholden to the Pope” I do not ascribe her positions to being Catholic or being beholden to the Pope. I ascribe her belonging to People of Praise as a byproduct of her personal beliefs, beliefs that are far more extreme than garden-variety, even devout Catholicism. She’s in that group because of her personal beliefs, not the other way around.
I know many, many Catholics, and while most of them are pretty anti-choice for theological reasons that other faiths don’t share (also a concern for SCOTUS, IMO), I don’t know any Catholics who are as extreme in their views as these elite groups are. By contrast, I know lots of Evangelicals who are that extreme, but they don’t seem to be nominated for SCOTUS.
For Jack Hughes, and your not seeing any anti-Catholic bigotry in the OP:
“ I have no beef with Catholics in general, but let’s be clear: many of their dogmas are not compatible with the rights and values of Americans as a whole.”
This is a terrible statement. Try substituting “Jews,” “Mormons,” “LGBT,” “Muslims,” or “African-Americans” or “immigrants” for the word “Catholic,” and the bigotry becomes clearer. It means, “people not like us.” It creates an Other, an Enemy. If Hawkgrrrl really means what she says here, then she has much more in common with the most ultra-Orthodox TBM boundary-enforcer, in Sunday School, than she perhaps realizes.
Hawkgrrl’s statement is a modern version of the United States’ long history of Protestant Establishment-led anti-Catholicism, which was most vilely manifested in the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s, and Republican James G. Blaine’s campaign for President against Democrat Grover Cleveland, which used the theme of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion,” trying to scare voters about papist influence in the White House if Cleveland won. Read histories of anti-Catholicism in the 1928 and 1960 presidential elections.
“I have no beef with Catholics in general.”
Wow! But by golly, they had better not get too uppity, and they had better keep their place.
I would submit that tolerance for others should be high on any list of American values.
Arnold: It’s great that Atwood did not use People of Praise for her inspiration (although from what I read she said there were several groups that were part of the inspiration, not just People of Hope); however, People of Praise is still a parachurch that holds very extreme views. These are views that probably make Evangelicals excited as many of them share these same views. They are not majoritarian views in the US, though, and they are not mainstream views in Catholicism from what I can tell.
Taiwan Missionary: When I say I have no beef with Catholics in general I mean no beef with anyone of any faith who is not in an extreme group or does not hold extremist beliefs. I was not intending to single out Catholics specifically except that this just happens to be the group that comprises the majority of the current SCOTUS–it’s highly unusual that we live in a country that kicks up a fuss when a Catholic (or Mormon) runs for POTUS, but it doesn’t matter when we have a majority Catholic SCOTUS. That’s a strange inconsistency.
I would not hesitate to vote for a Catholic POTUS depending on the candidate–the country has made issue with it in the past. I would also vote for the right Mormon candidate Having 5 or 6 of 9 SCOTUS all be from the same faith is odd demographically and makes me wonder how it happened, and then to find out that many of them are from a group that’s more extreme and rare (Opus Dei) is even more unusual. If we had 6 of 9 who were Mormons, that would be even weirder (as I said upthread) since Mormons are even more of a minority.
I would like to know what an actual Catholic thinks about Opus Dei. I don’t think there’s a Mormon equivalent really.
Taiwan Missionary says, “I would submit that tolerance for others should be high on any list of American values.”
I agree. I think one question hawkgrrrl has is how much tolerance for others would an ultra-conservative justice with arguably fringe religious affiliations have for others? Would Barrett have reached the same conclusion on Obergefell as Kennedy? Would she have concluded, like Gorsuch, that discrimination based on sex includes sexual orientation? Her participation in an organization where she may have once been referred to as a ‘handmaiden’ is relevant if one wants to know where she’ll come down on impactful cases.
How much tolerance should one have for intolerance?
Many members of our church claim to hold their nose to vote republican to get conservative judges appointed. If a new conservative judge is appointed, do they still have to vote republican? Could this mean less members vote Trump? Or will they find another excuse?
Do SOCTUS still base their judgements on whether a law fits within the constitution, Plus previous rulings? So might conservative judges still uphold abortion, gay marriage, and limit religious freedom to not imposing your views on others? Bit is sad that it is assumed that the court will be biased.
In other words might it be pointless to vote republican to get these results? They haven’t banned abortion after 47 years.
Wouldn’t it be wonderfull to live in a country where the supreme court are not political appointees, and valued for their honesty/wisdom in interpreting the law?
I did not read bigotry agains catholics into hawkgirls original post. Just extremism.
I am concerned for democracy in America, and whether you will still be peacefull by January.
Because I generally like Hawk Girl, and have seen her over time to not be bigoted, I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she is really objecting to zealotry rather than Catholics. She may have worded things badly. She pointed out a fact, that a majority of SCOTUS are one minority religion and that some of them do apparently belong to a group of zealots. Then she asked if people think this is a problem. She did not say that a majority of Catholics were a problem, but asked the question.
Yes, I have a bit of a problem with it. Not their religion, but their rulings. Some of the rulings have put the religious rights of (Catholic ) business owners above the religious rights of their employees. An atheist, Mormon, or even a Easter and Christmas Catholic should not be forced to pay more out of pocket expenses for their medical coverage because they work for a company owned by someone whose religion is against a particular type of medical care when their own religion has no problem with it. But this happened because the S.C. ruled in favor of Catholic owned businesses who did not want to pay for insurance coverage for birth control. I can’t help but think that if a majority on the court had been, say, Jewish, that the ruling would have respected the religious rights of employees as well as the religious rights of business owners who were not being forced to *use* birth control, simply to allow their employees to exercise their own religion as they see fit and have the health insurance they needed.
OK, let the accusations of anti Catholic bigotry begin.
I have been waiting for a W&T post on this subject. I see that plenty have already noted the possible anti-Catholic statements in the OP. The rebuttals in the comments cover all the main concerns that I have with this.
Some other general comments on the OP: Conservatives use the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion as a guide point for a number of related issues. Abortion for convenience is seen as a grave moral issue by almost all conservatives and the issue generally can rally many activists. From a legal standpoint, it is seen as invention of a constitutional right out of whole cloth by 7 judges. Other key moral/social issues like Obergfell are seen similarly, although Roe is seen as worse because of the early precedent and tortuous legal reasoning. Hawkgrrrl is correct that many conservatives do not see the Roberts court overturning Roe completely and also that many are looking to just stop the continued expansion of new, unwritten constitutional rights.
I think that the ACA ruling by Roberts is a giant signal pointing to addressing this issue in Congress. His ruling made it much easier to vote it out, as some portions have already been.
Deregulation and religious freedom, and other issues also come up in many conservative discussions. Liberty and the Bill of Rights, especially the first 2, are general themes in this category.
To answer the OP questions:
1) There is no religious test for office in the USA. Constitutional conservatives should be all over not caring about the religious background of a part of the government, unless a specific religious test or discrimination is part of the deal. A more conservative court will almost certainly stop the bleeding that the conservative religious people see happening. Obergfell (Gay marriage) could be reduced in scope or overturned. It would likely not have happened with the August 2020 court. (Roberts voted against Obergfell)
2) I think that having hearings and even voting on the nominee will have little impact for either party per se. Trashing a qualified nominee would hurt the Senate democrats, just like it did in 2018. (Just ask former Senators Nelson, Donnelly, McKaskill & Heitkamp)
3) I think that the social fabric of our country would fracture even further with a SC that was totally out of sync with the population. 9 conservatives like the current 5 would not cause that to happen. The originalist and incrementalist sentiments of the current justices would prevent real upheavals in law.
4) I think that RBG should have retired in 2014 or 2015 if she wanted to be sure that a democrat appointee succeeded her. There is some speculation that she wanted President Hillary, a woman, to nominate her replacement. If so, it was not the first political miscalculation that RBG made, but political instincts are not a requirement for high court justices.
I actually agree with much of what you wrote. A few additional points:
1. Making a bigoted comment does NOT mean that one is a bigot. I look back on my life and cringe at some of the things that I have said about groups of people. For example, I long had a personal dislike of French culture. (My reaction was largely caused by widespread manifestations of French snobbery and anti-Americanism after WW2, when I lived in Germany. A petulant De Gaulle was unable to restore French grandeur and never forgave the Americans for supplanting France as the major post-WW2 power, and it seeped into the larger French culture. But I digress.)
2. I have usually found Hawkgrrrl’s contributions to W and T to be thoughtful, and helpful to me as I continue to form my beliefs and opinions. But not this time. I look forward to her future contributions.
2. It is fine to be upset with the vote of a conservative SC justice who happens to be Catholic. To try to block a SC nominee BECAUSE of her Catholicism IS bigotry. Period. It reminds me of evangelical Protestants who refused to vote Romney in 2012 because of his faith. For the record, when confirmed as an Appeals Court nominee, Amy Comey Barrett stated that she does not base her decisions on her religion, she bases her decisions based on what she thinks the law requires. And that is where honest disagreement can occur, as shown by split SC votes. (Many SC decisions are 9-0, BTW.)
3. The title “SCOTUS Dei” is an attempt to convey a lurid, scary image of a secretive cabal of Catholics on the SC, who plot their votes together, because of their Catholicism. It is a bit like referring to the Jewish SC justices as “The Protocol of the Elders of Zion on the SC.” (I refer to a notorious anti-Semitic tract written more than 100 years ago, and still believed in, by many.)
A further note: there are many well-reasoned criticisms available of Opus Dei, the conservative Catholic group that has been at odds with many Popes. Dan Brown’s novel Is not among them.
For El Oso: RBG on several occasions expressed strong criticism of the reasoning behind the Roe v. Wade decision. She fought to uphold the decision, but she disliked the shoddy reasoning that informed the decision. Agree with her, or disagree with her (I usually disagreed), she had a first-rate legal mind.
I will miss her.
The election is not three weeks away — voting began several days ago. The final day to vote is six weeks away. A new justice will be nominated while the election is happening.
Jared, I agree we are following the pattern of the Book of Helaman. I doubt we’d agree who is playing the role of Amalikiah. When I ask my brothers and sisters what they consider evidence that we’re headed for a fall, they list the promised disasters, disease, corruption and division. I point out these are promised results of exceptional pride, ignoring the least among us, the strangers — and after we knowingly choose immoral and deceitful leaders.
Donald is shown on our news tonight saying he will not commit to a peaceful transition of power if he looses. Has any previous presenident said this? Does this not raise a concern with conservative voters? Do they support democracy Or Trump?
Tiwan, Having lived in Germany, how do you respond to those on meridian magazine who are very concerned about democrat policies, being socialism, leadiang to communism?
Taiwan Missionary said, of Justice Ginsburg: “Agree with her, or disagree with her (I usually disagreed), she had a first-rate legal mind.”
I felt exactly the same way about Justice Scalia. It is so nice to hear someone else express this kind of profound, nonpartisan respect for a justice with whom they disagree. Thank you for that.
Not sure if you knew this, but Scalia and Ginsburg were great personal friends. They vacationed together, attended opera together, and rang in the new year together with their spouses each year.
Ginsburg once said said of Scalia: “I disagreed with most of what he said, but I loved the way he said it.”
Statements like this give me hope that the Court will be a residuum of civility that will hold out until the rest of American politics returns from its field trip to Game of Thrones. Ugh.
At the risk of providing legitimacy to josh h’s “margin of victory” argument, I nevertheless feel compelled to point out that he has incorrectly characterized his data. He claims that his list consists of “every” Republican nominee since Thomas. However, it conveniently omits Roberts, who was confirmed by a 56 vote margin. And if he had included “every” Democratic nominee, his list would have included Garland who was not confirmed by a vote of 0-0.
“I do generally believe that justices will vote their conscience rather than “dance with the girl that brought them.”“
I completely disagree. Sadly- the bench (at all levels) has been subject to politicization, corporate interests, and ideological alliances/camps.
There are still good judges out there, but a good judge isn’t one that is chosen specifically based on political promises to be in the pocket of a party.
I would just like to point out that it’s “dance with the one (or them) that brung ya'” I hope we can all work on being more accurate when using western music idioms. 😉
Taiwan Missionary: Let me take you through my REAL thought process since you are imagining something quite different. It was something like this:
1) Sad that RBG died.
2) Boy, Dems are sure fired up about this, but that’s how the system works. I’m not thrilled, but that’s the fallout. Thank God they usually follow precedent rather than reversing rights that have been given.
3) What IS the current mix of SCOTUS? Interesting. Leans conservative, but still unlikely to overturn Roe v. Wade. The last anti-birth control ruling giving exception to the ACA was super weird. The only people against birth control are Catholics, and most of them use it anyway. Lack of access to birth control harms women’s ability to be financially independent. It’s a big deal, something RBG fought hard for. Clarence Thomas is the only justice I’ve ever heard make crazypants arguments against birth control, though. I don’t know what Kavanaugh thinks about it yet.
4) How many other justices are Catholic? [Wikipedia link] Whoa, that’s weird given how much people lost their crap over JFK, arguably one of the most beloved US presidents. How did we get to a SCOTUS with a Catholic majority? (I was simply curious).
5) They all seem to go Ivy League, duh, of course. Not like they are going to Community College. Wait, a few of the recent justices all belonged to Opus Dei? Including Kavanaugh and his mentor?
6) Is Opus Dei to Catholicism what Skull & Bones is to Yale, a high powered very elite networking group where like-minded members promote one another? (I assume Justice Thomas doesn’t have a cilice belt under his robes–as I said in the footnote, I don’t take Dan Brown’s novel seriously on this topic).
So personally, while I asked whether people were concerned about a Catholic majority in SCOTUS, my answer is that I mostly am not concerned on those grounds. I am somewhat concerned about them giving air to anti-birth control legislation which is totally against the will of the people, and the more they try to carve out space for so-called religious freedom (if they do) that allows corporations employing people who aren’t of their faith to deny healthcare coverage on the grounds of religious belief, this is one specific area that to me feels like a blind spot. If we had a Jehovah’s Witness majority SCOTUS that carved out space for doctors to refuse to give blood transfusions that resulted in death of patients, maybe that would be something similar (except that we don’t have a bunch of doctors out there doing that). Even if not all SCOTUS is anti-birth control, being anti-birth control may feel more normal or mainstream to someone raised Catholic than it would to the rest of us. Hopefully Roberts and others are aware of that and will act accordingly. Justice Thomas, as I said, is the only one I know of who has made extreme comments about birth control.
Ok. Changing tack a little. When I drove by the Opus Dei headquarters in the United States I was very impressed by just how many old Camry sedans and similar vehicles were in use.
I did not recall a vow of poverty, but they drove cars consistent with one.
Please Stop: I agree with you completely. This is simply another one of hawkgrrls pet posts; where she climbs up on her “hobby horse” and simply whips away. It is a bigoted post – in my opinion – unless you simply embrace the liberal/progressive/neo Marxist script; and then one is warmly embraced as a valued Comrade. I used to really enjoy Wheat an Tares but have stopped visiting lately. It is rapidly becoming just another political cesspool; which we already have plenty of – to the point of nausea. Undoubtedly, hawkgrrrl is smart, articulate and well studied – but she clearly has her own “drum to beat” and so I’ve stopped being a fan. (Oh, and John W. is just a angry, miserable human being; who should really get some help.)
Hawkgrrl’s not a neo-Marxist. I’ve attended every meeting and she’s never been there.
You asked me a question, and I will try to provide an answer. I hope it is coherent. This comment thread about SCOTUS is close to an end, anyway, so maybe the moderators will forgive us for veering off-subject.
As to my having lived in Germany. Yes, that profoundly shaped my views. After WW2, East Germany pursued a planned economy with ruinous results, and until the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, 25 percent of its people had fled to West Germany. The West Zone pursued with tremendous success a version of free-market economics known as “mixed market economy.” Not pure laissez-faire. Private enterprise cooperating with labor unions.
Historically, planned economies generally end very poorly. The problem is, the planners seldom know when to stop. Margaret Thatcher’s comment comes to mind: the problem with Socialism is that it eventually runs out of other people’s money. I will also add: free-market capitalism in the US failed to heed the needs of the less well-off, and we are now reaping a bitter harvest.
I think that we need periods of government help, and we also need periods of letting the private sector handle things. I particularly admire how West Germany rebuilt after WW2 using the private sector. I also admire Singapore’s use of government-guided free market economics (not the same as crony state-sponsored capitalism). For free market economics to succeed, high levels of social trust are needed. Same for social democrat economies, like the Scandinavian economies. We don’t have that in the US anymore.
We can at this point tie back into the original post about SCOTUS, and choosing RBG’s successor. The reason it is already so ugly is that there has been a complete breakdown in trust between liberals and conservatives. They dislike each other more than they want to find a way forward
As to Meridian magazine, and Mormons going off on socialism. Prominent leaders in the Mormon Church like ETB used Church platforms to denounce Communist conspiracies, finding them everywhere (MLK, for example). They gave the Church an image of being a haven for alt-right wing nuts, that still plagues us today. IMO, Mormons who go off on socialism and communism really mean, “anything I don’t like.” So I have no patience. What is it about the Church that makes it a refuge for the alt-right?
rhetorical question! There are answers, but they should wait for another post.
Tiwan, Thankyou for your answer. As you can gather I live in Aus which by meridian standards is marxist, but there is less compulsion, and far less poverty than US.
My wife and I visited Germany 15 years ago and were very impressed. Particularly with the care for the poor, and the decentralized living. A son in law worked at a research institute which was in the country, with a number of villages around it for accomodation. Many of the factories were set up similarly. Apart from the language Germany would be high on the list of good places to live, if I had to leave Aus.
I am concerned about the dividing of American society. Not sure what would be left after 4 more years of Trump. Not sure what will happen if he doesn’t win. See yesterday declaring he will not accept the result unless he wins. Seems like a threat to democracy, but that doesn’t seem to worry the right.
Just a quick note about what a Justice Barrett (or whatever other “most conservative Justice” nomination we are in store for) means: Bret Kavanaugh is the new swing vote. Now, THAT’s a conservative SCOTUS. Buckle up.
lastlemming: my bad on the John Roberts omission. Not intentional. Yes, his inclusion changes the average slightly buy my point remains. thanks
Like most Republican appointments to the bench, Barrett is a front-runner because of her revanchist political views and not because of any superior intellect nor any outstanding work done in the legal field. Like Thomas’ race, Barrett’s sex is merely window dressing, as she has consistently ruled in favor of patriarchy. It’s interesting to watch a judge like Barrett, who owes her career to generations of feminists, and to barrier breakers like RGB, argue that women are not the equal of men when it comes to bodily integrity and decision making. “Look! We’re not sexist, we’ve selected a woman to
Could someone explain the reasoning of people who oppose abortion also opposing birth control?
That makes no sense to me. There are legislated policies that effectively decrease the abortion rate. Such policies lean Democrat.
Many Republican policies effectively increase the abortion rate.
It seems like “anti abortion” is a red herring.
@Sasso for the satirical answer to your question, see if you can find the Monte Python skit “Every Sperm is Sacred.”
@Sasso it’s because restricting abortion isn’t about preventing abortions from occurring. It is about controlling women’s bodies and controlling reproduction.
I doubt most people are conscious of that motivation but I think behind abortion and birth control restrictions there is a real fear among men that women might choose to stop being reproductive vessels and then they won’t be able to perpetuate their seed or have offspring. Obviously men depend on women’s bodies being willing and available for reproduction in order to have offspring and I think they are (again probably unconsciously) deeply afraid of women refusing to do so. So they want to make that illegal.
I don’t dispute that many people genuinely care about fetus’s right to life but as you note if they did they would support policies that are proven to reduce abortion rather than just policies that try to ban it.
Read Handmaid’s Tale. If I’d read it pre-Trump it would have been interesting. Reading it during the Trump administration hit way closer to home than it should have.
Lefthandloafer, I made arguments. You’re welcome to address those. But it seems like all you do nowadays is come on this blog, get offended, and call people names. I don’t agree with Taiwan Missionary or Josh h, for instance, on everything especially in politics, but I have respect for them and their willingness to maintain civil debate. I’ve lost that respect for you.
Rockwell, Isn’t british humour brilliant?
Trump has now confirmed that Barrett is to be the new judge, so no need to vote for Trump anymore?
If the consequences were not so great, it would almost be interesting to have abortion made illegal, resulting in an increase in number of abortions, along with women suffering, and dying, just to help the conservatives see their mistake. No the cost is too high, and they would not accept the truth anyway.
I see on meridian that democrats will FORCE socialism onto the country if elected. Can the same people not see that FORCING pregnancy on a woman by denying birth control, and abortion, is equally problematic?
Germany is the country with the lowest abortion rate. It has a female leader. Respect for women, and then helping them impliment their wishes, is most effective strategy. Freedom and the persuit of happiness for women?
One of the things that impressed me about Germany, is they expect people to be wise in their judgement, and facilitate that, for example they have no speed limits on much of their highway system, and make many of the best cars in the world, so they can enjoy them. Their road toll is way lower than America, just as their abortion rate is a third of America.
“I see on meridian that democrats will FORCE socialism onto the country if elected.”
I also see the author of the meridian article, Gary Lawrence, is the same person who wrote
“Six Consequences if Prop 8 Passes” (nonsense that was taught by Stake leaders to each ward where I live).
I wouldn’t give it any credence.
First, nobody is suggesting we do away with capitalism. But, there is a line between opposing ends along a spectrum, communism on one end and perhaps crony capitalism on the other.
I view govt.’s role as stepping in to prevent abuse and excessive concentration of wealth and power at the expense of citizen’s basic needs.
The debate about different issues is largely about where/how one draws the line.
For example, Lawrence says, “you cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”
I would say, that if most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of .01% of the population, then fewer people have money to spend. If a greater percentage of people have more money to spend, won’t a company and the economy do better?
I also wonder how this all lines up with the Law of Consecration taught by Joseph Smith?
As Dallin H. Oaks taught, agency on earth cannot be taken away by laws or commandments.
We have many choices. But with every choice there is a consequence. Don’t want to pay your taxes? Fine, but you will end up in prison. That is how you used your agency.
Freedom, on the other hand, can be curtailed by laws.
Wait, the government is now forcibly impregnating women and preventing them from accessing any of the numerous over-the-counter BC methods? Holy smokes!