The US Supreme Court justices have gone crazy—or wildly political. That’s the only conclusion an impartial observer could reach after following the recent jaw-dropping decisions. Taken as a whole, these rulings would suggest that the US is trying to turn the clock back to what they perceive to be a happier, morally healthier America. The overturn of Roe v Wade, the loosening, rather than the tightening of gun control laws in the wake of countless mass shootings, the legislation aimed to control and restrict voting rights, and now the blow struck against EPA regulations that further endanger rather than protect our suffering planet, this has been called the “most conservative Supreme Court in nearly a century“.
Many of the other rulings, the overturn of Roe v Wade being the most prominent, seem to have the long-term agenda of eroding the separation of Church and State, pandering to the religious to gain political advantage. In addition to declaring abortion to be unconstitutional, this June the Supreme Court struck down a Maine policy that prohibited religious schools from receiving taxpayer-funded tuition aid and ruled in favor of a football coach in Washington state who prayed at the 50-yard line after public school games, thus opening the door to prayer in the classroom. Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor has stated that it is obvious that the court “continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the Framers fought to build.”
After the banning of abortion, can the curtailment of gay rights and same sex marriage, justified by referencing the Bible and the Constitution, be far behind? Jay Reeves wrote: “Emails and phone calls from same-sex couples, worried about the legal status of their marriages and keeping their children, flooded attorney Sydney Duncan’s office within hours of the Supreme Court’s decision eliminating the constitutional right to abortion.” And Justice Clarence Thomas has already called on his colleagues to reconsider cases that allowed same-sex marriage, gay sex and contraception.
Hamilton and the Founding Fathers envisioned and tried to prevent just such a situation with the establishment of “independent” justices who, through the process of judicial review (i.e. the power to invalidate legislation or executive actions which, in the Court’s considered judgment, conflict with the Constitution), would ensure that the Constitution would be interpreted in a way to strictly avoid the politicization of crucial issues.
James Madison in particular argued that, if every constitutional question were to be decided by public political bargaining, “the Constitution would be reduced to a battleground of competing factions, political passion and partisan spirit.” Despite his precautionary clairvoyance, this is exactly where we are today.
Are the Supreme Court decisions being driven by the Trump-appointed justices who now seem to have a stranglehold over the institution? The original purpose of life tenure for justices—as it is for university professors–was to make them immune from the political influence or pressure that each incoming administration might want to exert. Now life tenure no longer seems to serve its intended purpose of making the court apolitical. Instead, the justices remain staunchly loyal to their political party, not to the Constitution. Perhaps the time has come to set term limits for them too, as we have for elected officials.
When we consider some of these elected officials, we find a veritable menagerie of uneducated, uninformed and outrageous outliers. Lauren Boebert, Colorado Representative, is a prime example of someone who has no clue about what’s in the Constitution, the foundation principles, or what the Founding Fathers intended when writing the Constitution. Her ignorance on all matters relating to US history, religion and government are truly breathtaking.
On June 28, in a speech at the Cornerstone Christian Center in Basalt, Colorado, she announced, “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk — that’s not in the constitution”. Going even further, she added that, “the church is supposed to direct the government.” That she made these astounding declarations just a few days before the primary election leads to the suspicion that she was pandering to the conservative crowd in order to bolster her chances of winning. However, knowing that High School dropout Lauren Boebert received her GED diploma just a few months before winning election to the House of Representatives, we are equally justified in thinking that she genuinely doesn’t know anything about the Constitution and that the first “Americans” — most especially the Pilgrims in the country that she professes to love more than any liberal– fled England precisely to avoid religious persecution, and that religious freedom was and remains, the cornerstone of American values. Unfortunately, she is not alone in her ignorance; it’s frightening to think that she was elected by people who are either cynically complicit or equally ignorant.
Despite all their precautions, what Hamilton and his cohort could not ensure is that the citizenry would elect officials who, first, would understand what the Constitution that they have pledged to serve says; second, how the government works; and finally, make intelligent decisions based on the collective welfare of all the people, not only to promote their own political agenda. Today the Constitution is being subverted—indeed, hijacked would be a better word–by one segment of the population; mainly the religious right whose general view of society and its values hearken back to the 18th and 19th centuries—and who most fervently wish to roll back the clock to a time when in their deluded minds, to be an American meant to be white and religious. Lauren Boebert is such a specimen.
The Constitution, like the Bible, is open to a vast amount of (mis)interpretation. “The Founding Fathers had wisely worded that document in rather general terms leaving it open to future elaboration to meet changing conditions.” This would be wisdom if people could be trusted to be objective and wise, but sadly, most people put their own beliefs ahead of others. As we notice all too often, all justifications can be found in the Bible—and this is increasingly true of the Constitution. You’ll find whatever it is that you’re looking for.