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Court undermines individual

Published 11:32am Friday, July 11, 2014

Presidential appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court have often resulted in unexpected outcomes. Conservative appointments have seated justices who became more liberal once on the court and liberal appointments have made conservative decisions on a variety of issues.

That is a good reflection on a Court the nation needs to make decisions for the good of the people instead of for the good of the political parties.

But every court has its rulings over time that define its place in our history. The Warren Court of the 1960’s was a Court that actively expanded individual rights often in opposition to government and corporations. Conservatives still view the Warren Court as too extreme in its decisions.

Today the Roberts Court is also defined by its rulings and that definition has clearly emerged as the “Corporate Court” with Justice Samuel Alito the champion of all things corporate on the court.

Alito was nominated by President George Bush in 2005 to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Conner. During Alito’s confirmation hearings Senator Kohl, (D-Wis.) asked Mr. Alito about a Washington Post analysis of 221 civil rights cases where judges overall had a 2-1 split but Judge Alito ruled against individuals three out of four times in the cases.

It was to be an important window into what would become Alito’s blind spot…the rights of the individual in our constitution.

Alito would win confirmation by a 58-42 Senate vote.

In 2010 the court ruled in Citizens United that corporations are de facto people and, as people, have the right to contribute to political causes they support.

It is beyond dispute that following that decision significant increases in cash flowed into election coffers of candidates supported by Big Business. Alito sided with a written concurring opinion by Justice Scalia noting that the First Amendment protected speech, not speakers, thus corporations had the right to free speech.

This year the court doubled down on corporate personhood in Hobby Lobby granting corporations religious beliefs in addition to their free speech rights.

The ruling opens the concept that owners (corporations) may simply say they religiously oppose healthcare coverages and those coverages become prohibited.

In the Hobby Lobby example, the one family who owns the corporation has the right to decide for the other 13,000 people at the corporation that some contraceptives are unacceptable.

Alito wrote the Hobby Lobby decision. The Washington Post (6/30/14) writes: “In an oral statement from the bench, Alito argued that those who say corporations are “just a piece of paper” are making a “dangerous” argument and would turn religious executives “into second-class citizens.”

Really? But are they not now citizens who have two votes, their own and the fiction they represent that has become another person?

But the court was not finished attacking individuals and empowering corporations this year. The McCutcheon campaign finance case granted more freedom for wealthy Americans to make political contributions and noted that access and influence are not corruption. Only quid pro quo, i.e. direct benefits from contributions are disallowed.

Alito sided with the 5-4 majority on McCutcheon.

Finally, the court attacked unions in a manner that invites future cases and rulings against people organizing to improve their opportunity to share in the success of corporations.

In an Illinois case the court ruled that a new category of employee now exists, a “partial public employee” who can opt out of union dues while receiving the benefits of union membership. The author of this entirely creative work? Justice Samuel Alito.

The U.S. Supreme Corporate Court is now on vacation. It will return this fall to further undermine individual rights and advance the personhood of corporations.

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.

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  • keta

    Roe vs. Wade

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    Oh, geez. Mick, you’re pretending we’re talking about abortion, that you’re defending the unborn. You aren’t. You’re defending Hobby Lobby’s right to pretend that IUDs are abortion devices, and their right to demand to be exempt from the federal law that includes contraception as a health care expense. Because contraception is a luxury, and if the ladies insist on limiting the number of children they have, why, they can just pay for that foolishness themselves. Sigh.

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    • mickakers

      keta; Interestingly we are talking about the killing of the unborn (abortion). Several of the drugs objected to by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Services are Abortifacients, inducing miscarriages.

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  • keta

    Delving and thinking ? Nah. Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Kennedy and Roberts are Catholics. They agreed that women’s right to use contraception isn’t as important as their boss’s right to believe she shouldn’t be using it. Feel free to believe they thought deeply about this, instead of realizing this ideology is baked in the dough of these doughy old Catholics. Sotomayor’s Catholic too, but she perceives women as citizens with equal rights under the law, so her process was entirely different.

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    • mickakers

      keta; Seeing that you are hung up on religious beliefs, I thought you might find this interesting; The 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe vs Wade making the killing of the unborn legal was determined by a 7 to 2 majority. Those voting in favor of killing the unborn were Justices Blackmun – Methodist, Burger – Presbyterian, Douglas – Presbyterian, Brennan – Roman Catholic, Stewart – Episcopalian, Marshall – Episcopalian and Powell – Presbyterian. The two opposed to making the killing of the unborn legal were Justices White – Episcopalian (he’s kinda my favorite, played in the NFL for the Steelers and Lions) and Rehnquist – Lutheran. Along with citizens rights comes citizens responsibilities. People seem to be preoccupied with rights while ignoring responsibilities.

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    • mickakers

      keta; As a matter of information, the Supreme Courts ruling of June 30 that federal religious freedom laws protect the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Services from being forced to comply with parts of the federal contraception mandate against their religious beliefs, these two businesses are run by Protestant and Mennonite owners respectively who objected to aspects of the mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions. If an individual so chooses, he or she has the liberty of pursuing these options at their own expense, without requiring some one else to pay for them. I feel this is a reasonable decision.

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  • keta

    We only had five children, two of them died in infancy, one at three months
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    I know. I’m so sorry for your unimaginable loss, and I admire the way you emerged from it a thoughtful and civilized fellow. I do think that your experience accounts for a tunnel vision so severe that your thinking on these issues isn’t really thinking.

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    • mickakers

      keta; We are all molded by our education and experiences. I hesitate to call this “tunnel vision”. There are people who delve and think a little deeper.

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    • Digi13

      Keta, I have to agree with you on this one. It never should have become a government decision for one. Keep in mind the separation of church and government, but as we all know that’s been blown out the window for years! I like you feel this will open the flood gates for more of this, and eventually it will lead to some major issues. Especially when it leads to a company whose religious beliefs don’t believe in allowing blood products or certain cancer treatments. Then the courts will be forced to rule with the corporations because go this HL decision that never should have happened.

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  • keta

    Grandmothers would be shocked by the lives that modern day women are living

    That’s true; they’d be all, Hey, where are your 12 kids and your diaper bucket? Believe me, you’re not the only one smiling over this. Your beliefs that a for-profit organizational structure can claim to be a religious body, and that it’s OK for fundamentalist beliefs to trump federal law, aren’t surprising. Your birth obsession dictates all your political beliefs. The only surprising thing is that you’re not being honest. Picking and choosing in order to advance my views? You know better. As I said, the official position of the Catholic church is that interfering with conception is a sin. Sex that isn’t unitive and procreative is a sin. That’s not public policy; it’s a religious opinion that 99.9999 percent of American citizens ignore, including most Catholics. I can’t figure out where conservatives hope to go with this. Maybe they think we’ll behave like middle eastern women when there’s a shakeup and the old clerics come back. Women who were physicians and lawyers and teachers and businesswomen suddenly find that they’re basically incubators again. The only way that could work here is if women weren’t allowed to vote.

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    • mickakers

      keta; Quite frankly, women are basically incubators. without them the human race would die out. I can think of a no more noble profession.

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      • mickakers

        keta; We only had five children, two of them died in infancy, one at three months due to a miscarriage, we had to fish the fetus out of the commode in order to present to the doctor in order to determine further treatment for my wife. The other died at sixteen months due to heart and kidney problems, birth defects. Diaper buckets? GROSS! The modern generation doesn’t have to worry about this due to pampers.

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  • keta

    Mick, you’re obviously unable to be rational on this subject. Your example of conscientious objector status is a good example; it’s the exact opposite of what you’re arguing. It honors the rights of the individual, quite unlike the rulings of the corporate court Crawford is so disgusted by. And the Catechism you referenced does state that sex must be unitive and procreative, and the Catholic church does consider anything that interferes with conception, including condoms and birth control pills, a sin.Worst of all, you’re actually trotting out that ignorant and nonsensical FOX News argument, that you don’t want to pay for the “free sex” others are having. My health insurance is part of the pay I receive for the work I do, and the same is true of Hobby Lobby employees. I pay my share of it , as do Hobby Lobby employees. Anything prescribed by my doctor and approved by the FDA is available to me, but Hobby Lobby employees can’t say that; for them, it’s anything prescribed by their doctors and approved by the FDA and not considered a sin by their employers. A rational mind hears a loud alarm at that last part, but yours doesn’t. BTW, Hobby Lobby is willing to pay for birth control pills, so is that a kind of free sex people like you and Rush Limbaugh don’t mind paying for? Deciding at this late date that contraception isn’t health care and shouldn’t be covered by insurance is like deciding that the internal combustion engine is the work of the devil and everybody should travel on foot from now on. The ability to actually plan your family, one you can reasonably manage and care for, has lifted millions out of poverty and misery. It’s made it possible for women to lead lives their grandmothers couldn’t have imagined. You have zero credibility on this subject.

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    • mickakers

      keta; Your interpretation of the “Catechism” is lacking in depth and understanding. You are picking and choosing without due regard for the whole, in other words, a simplistic approach in order to advance your views. I smiled when I read your comment “It’s made it possible for women to lead lives their grandmothers couldn’t have imagined.” I must concur with this comment, grandmothers would be shocked by the lives that modern day women are living. When it comes to credibility, maybe you should give that a little more thought. Corporations are made up of people, without people there would be no corporations, therefore corporations have intrinsic rights.

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  • keta

    that person should pay for them out of their own pockets

    Hobby Lobby DOES pay part of their employees’ costs for contraceptives. But only the kind they approve of. IUDs are not abortion devices, but because the Family that owns HL has the mistaken idea they are, a Hobby Lobby cashier who can’t take birth control pills and has been prescribed an IUD by her doctor, has to pay for it herself. This is unbelievably frustrating for women who have to fork over a thousand dollars because their employers don’t approve of the birth control method that’s safest for them. This priest’s beliefs include the Catholic dogma that intimate relationships are for procreation only. So Hobby Lobby cheerfully includes Viagra on its list of approved medications, because 75-year-old men expect to do some procreating? Nearly everything sold at Hobby Lobby is made in China; because the Lord approves of child labor, slave labor, exploiting the poor in ways we can’t even imagine? This isn’t a triumph of faith, for heaven’s sake. It’s another victory for corporations, part of an unbroken string that includes a lot of scary developments for women, especially poor and working-class women.

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    • mickakers

      keta; Is it possible the husband or lover could lend assistance in these situations, monetary or otherwise? I feel uncomfortable paying for free sex. In reference to your “Now, for the first time” comment, may I suggest a search on Conscientious Objector which is also a freedom of conscience issue and has been permitted from the country’s founding. Also, The United Nations 1948 Declaration Of Human Rights, specifically article 18, Right To Conscience. And last but not least, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 Four Freedoms Speech. Your comment in regard to Catholic dogma “that intimate relationships are for procreation only.” May I suggest a read of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 7 The Sacrament Of Matrimony to become a bit more informed.

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    • mickakers

      keta; As an afterthought: Your comment about Hobby Lobby and China is food for thought. Maybe we all should loose our constitutional rights for possessing and buying products raised, manufactured, produced or processed in China. All those who own a Samsung cell phone automatically loose their constitutional rights. Not trying to be smart but merely pointing out a fact. In times past it was Japan now China. We are all guilty!

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  • keta

    Mickakers, James Conley is a Catholic priest, a fellow who doesn’t believe in contraception. Fine by me. But most women DO believe in it, and prefer not to have a baby every year. That includes Catholic women, by the way, millions of them who ignore their church’s teachings and use contraception anyway. Now, for the first time, people who don’t believe in it are legally allowed to substitute their beliefs for the beliefs of their employees, a weirdly un-American event that could only happen in a supreme court that’s setting records for ruling against private citizens and in favor of corporations. It’s laughable for Conley to complain that religious liberty is being threatened. His co-religionists have just been given permission to inflict their beliefs on citizens who don’t share them. Liberty is definitely being threatened here. Women are citizens, for heaven’s sake, with all the rights of citizens. This is a big old can of worms that conservatives will wish had never been opened.

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    • mickakers

      keta; The bottom line here is, who is paying for it? No one is being denied the right to use contraceptives. Religious liberty is being threatened when you force someone to go against their religious beliefs and pay for something that goes against their moral code or conscience. If an individual chooses to use contraceptives that person should pay for them out of their own pockets and not expect someone else to pay for them. Along with citizens rights come citizens responsibilities.

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  • mickakers

    I would like to offer these comments by Bishop James D. Conley, STL of Lincoln, Nebrska, as food for thought. “The Hobby Lobby decision is an affirmation that believers have a place in the public square-that all of us should be free to conduct our business without compromising our basic moral beliefs. In its aftermath, the Hobby Lobby decision has exposed the bald aggression of secularists, whose loyalties lie more closely with unfettered sexual libertinism than with respect for fundamental rights of conscience, of religion, or of personal dignity. In short, the Hobby Lobby decision has exposed the secular tendency towards atheocracy-the systematic hostility and marginalization of religious believers who engage in American public life, a kind of practical atheism established as a norm. Hobby Lobby is a victory for human dignity. But it is also a mandate. What’s clear, in the aftermath of the decision, is how toxic our culture has become to faith in public life. The hostility we face won’t be overcome by the assertion of our rights in courts of law. That fight is important. But litigation can only fight the symptoms of our broarder problems. Religious liberty will be threatened in our nation as long as secularism is the prevailing cultural leitmotif.”

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  • keta

    Geez, Mick…..so corporations are people, and their money is equal to our speech? Who ARE you?

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  • keta

    mickakers, what you feel is reasonable is outrageous. Hobby Lobby employees are “free to pursue” their own preferred contraception at their own cost? Their co-workers who use birth control pills have their preferred method covered by their insurance. Women who use IUDs – and many do – are out of pocket to the tune of $1000, because of their employers’ mistaken belief that it’s a birth control device. Their health care costs will be much higher than their co-workers. The Corporate Court has decided that these women can only use the kind of birth control their employers approve of. For a corporation to be able to dictate something so private is a dangerous precedent. Mr. Crawford is right; our conservative justices rule against private citizens, and in favor of corporations, every single time. This has terrifying ramifications. It’s hard to believe you’re unable to see this.

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  • mickakers

    Jim Crawford; As a PS: In the Hobby Lobby case, I found Justice Ginsburg’s dissent lacking in depth and understanding.

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  • mickakers

    Jim Crawford; The ground you are attempting to cover is broad and difficult to explain in a short column. Judge Alito is a johnny come lately and a light weight when it comes to anti-union legislation. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 was the first step to benefit the freeloaders and then followed all the Right To Work laws. All members of society have benefited from the efforts of Organized Labor, this is an obvious fact. I must agree with Alito, corporations are people, without people corporations would not exist. However, you present an interesting aspect in regard to the “two votes”, something to think about. Corporations and Institutions are not trying to tell others what they can and cannot do when it comes to contraception, what they are saying is, they should not be required to pay for something that goes against their conscience. The individual is free to pursue whatever avenue he or she wishes to when it comes to contraception but at their own cost. I feel this is reasonable.

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