The Supreme Court, a Catholic institution is causing a free fall into theocracy, and teaching us how governance shouldn't be done.

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The deluge continues.

Not only have we had the elimination of a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion, but we have also had two attacks on church/state separation. After deciding that states must fund religious schools, the Supreme Court has now upheld a coach who defied his school administration and held prayer sessions on the field after football games. I am sure he never told the players that they must participate in the prayers. He didn’t have to. Anybody who has played in high school sports knows that you don’t want to piss off the coach. That is a sure way to become a permanent bench-warmer.

As Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, says in an LA Times op-ed:

It is unclear as to what, if anything, is left of the half-century of law recognizing that even “voluntary” prayer is inherently coercive in the public school context.

Both the federal district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the coach, but with unlimited funding from First Liberty Institute, the appeals eventually reached the Fanatical Five on the Supreme Court. The outcome was predictable.

Regardless of what those Justices said during their confirmation hearings, it is now clear that they neither recognize nor respect stare decisis (legal precedent).  The rulings in all three of these cases ignore a half-century of litigation that has resulted in what is generally acknowledged to be “settled law.” This is judicial activism on steroids.

To quote Chemerinsky again:

It is stunning how far and how fast the conservative justices have moved to overrule constitutional law principles in a single week. It’s clear that they would have decided countless cases over the last half-century differently from their predecessors, and have no hesitation eliminating precedents that they don’t like. The implications for all of our rights and the society we will live in is staggering.

One of the Justices (Thomas) has already suggested that gay rights and contraception should be “reconsidered.” That is a clear invitation to Religious Right groups to file suits on those issues. The slippery slope that we were on has ended at a precipice. We are now in free-fall into the chasm of theocracy.

Five individuals, four men and one woman, are determining how our society will function in many important ways. They are not elected, not accountable to anyone in our government, and they can hold their positions for the rest of their lives. They are all devout Catholics, and are making decisions that affect a population of many faiths, and a growing number of citizens who are nonbelievers.  

Is this how our government should work?

Bert Bigelow graduated from the University of Michigan College of Engineering, then pursued a career in electronic systems and software design. He has always enjoyed writing, and since retirement, has produced short essays on many subjects. His main interests are in the areas of politics and religion, and the intersection of the two. You can contact him at bigelowbert@gmail.com.

Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...