Monday, October 4, 2021

No More Tyranny Lessons & The Supreme Court

The book I have been sharing is regarding authoritarianism is On Tyranny, 20 Lessons from the 20th Century. I am kind of done doing that. It is too much of a downer for me. Let me just say, read the book and be prepared to be annoyed, scared and feel hopeless.

(I feel like the old axiom: Don't try to teach a pig to sing, it frustrates you and annoys the pig). Those who believe we need to chage don't need to be reminded, and those that don't agree won't change their minds anyway.)

Speaking of Feeling Discouraged (note, I did NOT say hopeless)

The Supreme Court Yearly Term is starting today (they run a school term schedule.) Because of our system, we won't start getting opinions (or "rulings") until May and June for the key items. I say this as someone who watches the Supreme Court like a hawk when it covers gay or women's rights. The previous court was comprises of 4 Liberals, 4 Conservatives and Chief Justice John Roberts, who was considered a conservative, but as the court moved into Republican talking points territory, he became (or at least seemed) more centrist.

Trump muzzles Amy Coney Barrett - her religion not only allows this but requires deference to men.

After a blatantly partisan move which overturned 200 years of precedent, Republicans got 3 VERY conservatives on the court during Trump's term (1 by not letting Obama's pick be voted on, 1 fairly, and the last by rushing through a Trump Pick).

So now the court is 5 VERY Conservative justices, 3 pretty Liberal Justices and John Roberts, but now not in the middle. He is a rock solid - normal conservative that is now one of the most liberal members of the court. He hasn't changed his views, the rest of the court has.

Now, remember, the Court must have a four justices (of the 9) agree to take on new cases. That means that there is often at least four ready to rule on a FEDERAL matter. And they pretty much ONLY rule when:

(1) There is a disagreement in the circuit courts. For example; New Mexico in the 10th circuit ruled Peyote used by Native Americans in religious ceremonies was legal. And Arizona in the 9th Circuit ruled it wasn't. Since the Circuit Courts are obliged to follow the Constitution or precedence, the Supreme Court might rule on it. It also might tell one side, say the 9th Circuit, to reevaluate, but not tell the 10th circuit the same, which pretty much explains what the result will be., 

(2) A state law or decision goes against the US Constitution, as they see it. For example the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy. This was "settled law" where termination was allowed up to "viability" of the fetus, defined in the 70s as the first 2 trimesters. If a law broke that decision it was incumbent on the Circuit Court to disallow it. And they did. A state could then appeal to the Supreme Court. Up until last year, those requests to change the law in order to remove the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy were almost automatically overturned.

So, if the Court takes a case of "settled law" it means that at least 4 justices are willing to overturn a previous decision (or - more rarely - rule on a new law or governmental rule). Most of these opinions are kind of esoteric: water rights, state lines, the meaning of Congressional laws.

But this time, the cases include some key decisions:

  1. A woman's right to terminate a pregnancy (settled law that is being "reviewed")
  2. A law that empowers the general public to enforce an anti-abortion law (a brand new way to enable mob justice - which a subset of the court  allow to take effect although it, in effect, bans all abortions, including those from rape  It will stand until the Court reviews and rules on it- Again, in JUNE of 2022.) *
  3. Another stab a Church / State division about homosexuals (this case also is a violation of settled law)
  4. A gun case that would (probably will) allow for open handgun carry in the entire country. Again, they are reviewing a settled law and so it has at least 4 justices that will overturn it.
  5. Yet another Church / State case about the public paying for religious education. Yet another settled law case they may overturn.
  6. And an odd Church / State ruling that allows condemned prisoners to met with their clergymen before execution, but only a Christian Clergyman. Muslim clergy and Buddhist monks have both been excluded.
So, that's a little chilling. But we have until May or June to forget all about it.

* Since the Texas law - on allowing vigilantes to sue anyone involved in an abortion - was allowed to go into effect, Florida has already passed a copy cat law, and three other states have introduced it to the legislature.

In a perfect explanation of how the new justices can change the rules. Before Amy Coney Barrett was on the court, the Supreme Court did not allow Texas implement a harsh abortion law that would drop the number of Texas abortion clinics to 16 as it would provide too much of a hardship for women. Less than 8 months later, with Amy Coney Barrett on the court, the Surpemes allowed the exact same type of law to close all the Louisiana clinics except for 1 in the state (and that one was not in the biggest city).

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What is too much Taylor Swift

 This much ... when the singer is used to send a message about POSSIBLE future problems?