Archive for July, 2014

The late June 2014 Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby decision is in and the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld the religious beliefs and rights of the owners of Hobby Lobby, Mardel and Conestoga. With the laws on the books right now, I see this as a major win for business owners who live their beliefs. As a constant pursuer of the truth, I see this as a very sad day in our history. Using The First Amendment, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, arguments were brought and the case ultimately decided. Yet, there is something sorely lacking…the upholding of the Constitution. Maybe Bush was right…The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper.

Why, you may ask, is that?

Firstly, there is the text of the dearly held religious portion of the First Amendment which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Get that? CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW…and yet time and again, Congress has passed laws affecting the free exercise of religion. The very fact that this case had to be brought before the Supreme Court is proof of that. The very fact that there were several major cases referenced and used in arguments is proof of that.

Secondly, what about the Articles of Power? This government, by passing the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA), and the Supreme Court, by upholding it as a tax, have shown utter contempt for the Articles of Power given to Congress, powers clearly laid out in the Constitution. Many don’t view it this way, but the Affordable Healthcare Act, Obamacare, Congress wrote and passed and the President signed into law is one of the most egregious pieces of legislation in our history. Our government passed brazen legislation that forces the population to purchase a product or pay a penalty…oh, wait! It’s not a penalty, it’s a tax, as our Supreme Court kindly reminded us over and over during the Hobby Lobby argument!

Thirdly, I need someone to show me, in the Articles of Power, where it says government can mandate businesses to provide insurance. The given powers allow for government to regulate commerce with foreign nations, Indian tribes and between the states, but it say nothing about regulating business practices…NOTHING! And, not to get off the subject too far, but take a good look at the Articles of Power. Congress has literally given away one major power, coining money. It regularly ignores its own immigration laws. It has also allowed presidents to wage illegal wars, bypassing Congress’ power to declare them. And don’t get me started on their complete lack of common sense regarding militias.

Next, when President Obama says he is going to go around either the Supreme Court or Congress, has he forgotten there are two other branches of government set forth in our Constitution?  Yes…there are checks and balances built into our government via the Constitution.  There are three, not one, branches of government.  Sometimes they ALL forget what their job is…

So, when Bush declared the Constitution and goddamned piece of paper, maybe he was sending the US population a message. And, if we, the US population, don’t start holding our politician’s feet to the fire about their decisions, aren’t we agreeing with that very notion? In closing, we only have ourselves to blame for the political concept that our Constitution is just a g/d piece of paper: that it’s irrelevant and of no use. It seems we couldn’t care less about learning that by having a Constitutional Republic, ruled by a set of laws instead of the popular concept, we are protecting both the majority AND the minority ideals. They don’t truly teach the Constitution or it’s importance in schools anymore. They DO teach, however, the functions of government are maintaining order, providing services, resolving conflicts, and promoting values. Two of the four I can see in the Articles of Power, but the other two are just not there… Don’t believe me, read the Articles of Power yourself, Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution.

We’ve lost the meaning of our Constitution, as well as what it means to have individual freedom. We’ve given all manner of excuses for people’s behavior instead of holding them responsible for their actions. And, as we can see within the debates surrounding the recent SCOTUS decision for Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel, there are masses of people who are more than willing to let others pay for them to enjoy their freedom, but don’t want to grant the same to others. Again, this country isn’t about majority rule, it’s about a set of laws that protect your ideals and mine. I have a right to do what I want to do, as long as I don’t interfere with your freedoms and you have the right to do the same. Justice Ginsburg understands that, even though she doesn’t usually rule that way. How do I know? She cites in her dissent, “In sum, with respect to free exercise claims no less than free speech claims, ’[y]our right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.’”

Over the years, we have become complacent. We’ve forgotten that this country was established as a Constitutional Republic, a country governed by rule of law. In a clever grab for power, government officials, as well as the media, businessmen and women, and schools have shifted the US toward the concept of a Constitutional Democracy, a country governed by majority rule. What’s next? I think we are seeing it as our political machine shoves our country’s ideals toward socio-fascism. And all this before a true Constitutional Republic had a fighting chance!

The next time someone seems offended by Former President Bush’s assertion that the Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper; think about why that seems so true…

On June 30, 2014 the Supreme Court handed down its long awaited Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby decision. The decision is a win for religious freedom and owners of closely held businesses opening and operating on their religious convictions. After all, if you don’t have your convictions, what do you have?   As expected, it also immediately fueled the fire of debates across the country as both pro- and con-decision comments made their way into nearly every level of communication. Many are pushing personal rights, but what seems to be missing from one side of the debate is personal responsibility. Many have the notion the responsibility for their own actions should lay with someone else…in this case, their boss. How did so many people who seem to relish their “personal rights” come to the conclusion they are free to do what they want, screw the consequences, handing the tab off to someone else?

What dissenting Justice Ginsburg and most of the mainstream media outlets continue to promulgate is that all three companies the decision affects are refusing to offer birth control of any kind. It needs to be clarified that there are sixteen contraceptives and four abortifacients required by the Affordable Healthcare Act and it’s the four abortifacients to which the three companies object. Justice Ginsburg FINALLY mentions this on page 24 of her 35-page dissent. Also in her dissent, Justice Ginsburg agrees, “that the Green and Hahn families’ religious convictions regarding contraception are sincerely held.” AND, she cites case law that the courts cannot question the lines drawn “defining which practices run afoul of [an individual’s] religious beliefs.” What the media ignores is the belief against abortion, NOT birth control. This case isn’t talking about whether or not these companies are insuring a broken leg; it is talking about whether these companies should provide drugs that stop a human life. There’s a huge difference!

That brings me to the overused phrase, “It’s my body, it’s my choice.” If it’s your body, why not TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT! If it’s your body, why is anyone else liable for YOUR choices? My grandfather always said, “When you play adult games, you pay adult prices.” If you’ve taken biology you know when you make the decision to consummate your relationship, the potential consequence is pregnancy. Also, as many well know, birth control is NOT 100%, so there is always a possibility of pregnancy when engaging in sexual intercourse. Why should someone else shoulder the burden of your choice? You played the game; it should be your responsibility to pay for the consequences of the game you played.

Another major point of contention is, “My boss shouldn’t have a say in what I do.” If you don’t want your boss in your bedroom, why should your boss pay for the decisions you make there? Again, take responsibility for your own actions! In this, the SCOTUS decision falls far short. It should not be your boss’s job to pay for your birth control OR abortifacients…PERIOD! How does this become your boss’s (OR the tax-payer’s?) responsibility, especially if you aren’t willing to pay for them yourself? When did women give up responsibility for their body?

It’s quite interesting that, during the arguments for this decision, the subject of alternative ways to pay for the offensive abortifacients arose. Justice Sotomayor seemed rather incensed that the alternative payments included either the government (taxpayers) or the individual, but not the business owner. Again, since when did the burden of an individual’s decision or a government mandate become someone else’s problem? It’s easy to make decisions when someone else has to pick up the tab! I bet we’d ALL do things differently if someone else were paying for it!

While Justice Ginsburg whines on about what’s fair and right regarding the government mandating and spelling out what FDA Approved drugs must be covered, she fails to see the egregious nature of forcing businesses to provide treatments that are against their beliefs. She bellyaches about the burden on the government of paying for the mandates it so brazenly passed on to business owners, but fails to see the burden the mandate creates for said business owners. She flat out ignores the mental burden of providing abortifacients when a business owner believes abortion is murder. The government even goes so far as to argue that the business owner is NOT providing the abortion, that the insurance company is. But, if the business owner is paying for even a portion of the insurance coverage, which they all do, they are paying for that abortion! I guess that never crossed their little legal brains, did it? And, if it did and they are ignoring it, that’s even worse!

These arguments remind me of a quote from a particularly gut-wrenching scene from Star Trek, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” According to “the many,” their “need” is for someone else to pay for their contraception/abortifacient while they enjoy their “personal right” to live their lives. No one is saying you can’t exercise your personal rights regarding your life. Far from it! What they ARE saying, however, is they don’t want the responsibility of paying for your decision regarding your choices. If you can make the choice, you can pay the price for the choice…PERIOD!

Regarding a similar notion, don’t others have a personal right to live their lives? So, where are their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, to enjoy the fruits of their labor when they are made to pay for someone else’s decision/mistakes? You have inalienable rights given by your creator…with those rights comes the responsibility to do the right thing, by your beliefs. I have the same inalienable rights, and the same responsibility, by my beliefs. Why is this always a one-sided argument…you get to shove what you believe down my throat while you do what you want, with no consequences, while someone else picks up the tab but has no say? Not fair and insane!

Ironically, the Honorable Justice Ginsburg cited in her dissent, “In sum, with respect to free exercise claims no less than free speech claims, ’[y]our right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.’” Doesn’t this make the argument that your rights end where mine begin? Doesn’t this very statement express personal responsibility regarding personal freedom? I believe it does. What do people, including the dissenting Justices, see when they read that?

Will people ever get it through their heads that with personal freedoms come personal responsibilities? Isn’t that the whole purpose of being an adult? Better yet, I’d like for someone to point out where in Article 1 Section 8 of our Constitution it says our government has the authority to decide away our personal responsibilities. There are lots of things listed in there that our government can do, but relieving us of personal responsibility is not one of them.

Endnotes:
SCOTUS Decision & Dissent
http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf

Hobby Lobby Case
http://www.hobbylobbycase.com/