Second class citizens…

On Monday, the US Supreme Court, by a 5-4 margin (which divided itself by conservative and religious lines), declared that employers who object to contraception as a violation of their deeply held religious beliefs do NOT have to cover their employees, one of the most important points of the Affordable Care Act.

Read that sentence again. It doesn’t indicate some methods. It refers to ALL contraception.

From the second article:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling.

The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings in favor of businesses that object to covering all 20 methods of government-approved contraception.

I’ve heard and read plenty on the subject, and I’m certain that you can do all the same homework I can, to find views that support your contention (for or against).

Whatever.

The ramifications of the decision are farther reaching than the right cares to admit. Aside from the question of violating the 14th Amendment (which Scalia declares is not applicable for everyone), there’s the larger issue of cherry-picking the Constitution to suit whichever political organization has the most money.

See, here’s the thing. The term “closely-held” belies the truth. 90% of corporations in the US are “closely held” – and any one of them can pick and choose not to cover contraception or any other thing they don’t like, simply because of their personal, deeply-held beliefs.

So let me put this into different terms, especially if you’re a guy who thinks there’s no war on women and it’s just a fantasy cooked up by liberals.

1. Are you a guy who’s interested in women?

2. Do you like having sex with women who won’t likely get pregnant because they’re on the pill?

3. Can the women you see and sleep with afford to pay for that birth control if it’s not covered by their insurance?

4. Are you ready for parenthood?

Not all pills are taken to prevent pregnancy. Women take the pill to control other conditions, as well as preventing pregnancy.

If you think this decision doesn’t affect you or your girlfriend(s), think again. And if you believe this applies only to Christian faith-owned companies, you’ve got another thing coming.

This decision isn’t about birth control. It’s about destroying the ACA, piecemeal, starting with the first, best hope for giving women control over their own bodies. And if you’re arguing that this is okay, then you need to go back and reread the Constitution, past the second amendment, because you missed some things.

Now, about that Constitution, well, here’s the thing, and this is where I get a little twitchy, so you’re just going to have to bear with me, because I’ll get there:

When the Constitution was originally written, it lacked a few things, and it was written in a context that doesn’t fit well with today’s society. Let’s take that tricky Second Amendment problem, which I’ll call “The Comma.”

See, if you read the sentence the way it’s written, with, you know, grammar and stuff, you’ll see it says this (from Wikipedia, because it’s convenient):

Text

There are several versions of the text of the Second Amendment, each with capitalization or punctuation differences. Differences exist between the drafted and ratified copies, the signed copies on display, and various published transcriptions.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] The importance (or lack thereof) of these differences has been the source of debate regarding the meaning and interpretation of the amendment, particularly regarding the importance of the prefatory clause.

One version was passed by the Congress,[24][25][26][27][28]

As passed by the Congress and preserved in the National Archives:[29]

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, then-Secretary of State:[30]

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The original hand-written copy of the Bill of Rights, approved by the House and Senate, was prepared by scribeWilliam Lambert and resides in the National Archives.

Well-regulated militia back then meant individuals serving in militias, carrying muskets, not individuals on their own, carrying AK-47s. Today’s version would be the National Guard, but back then there were neither the Guard nor the police, and the standing army was specifically disbanded as soon as possible. So who is today’s well-regulated militia and why do people still have guns if they don’t belong to this mysterious organization?

Who wrote the opinion for the majority in that case? Why, our old friend Scalia.

Now let’s take the comments he made above, regarding the 14th Amendment:

Text

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.[1]

And Scalia’s opinion, from the California Lawyer article (linked above):

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?
Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don’t like the death penalty anymore, that’s fine. You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.

Notice in Section 1 of the text, the following words: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Do you see anywhere in that sentence the words “except women?” Nah, me neither.

And yet, this is precisely what Scalia and his four cohorts have decided regarding the Hobby Lobby case.

I had a closely-held corporation of my own until I dissolved it, back in 2006. It included a small number of employees (all of whom were contractors, including me). Corporations are not unique. And the benefits accorded to Hobby Lobby’s employees are not a gift, but access to a group discount paid for by the employees themselves.

But wait, there’s more!

More?

Yep.

Because when you consider for a moment how tenuous our grip is on the current set of Constitutional rights, you fail to remember a couple of things that go back a bit. Let me remind you of them:

1. The Moral Majority were the foundation of today’s conservative groups. They spawned virtually ALL of the groups under which ALEC operates, that are working hard to restrict rights based solely on Christian values, and to expand religious protection whenever and wherever they think it will suit them, forgetting that there are other religious people in this country until someone reminds them.

2. There was a lot of noise about holding a Constitutional Convention to do away with the current Constitution, back in the 1970s and 1980s. Think that discussion has gone away? Nope. The Tea Party has grasped hold of it and if they manage to get control of the House and Senate this year (2014) this is precisely what is in store for the United States.

If you think freedom is at risk now, if you think all the talk of Sharia law in the states is just blowing smoke, you’re not paying attention to the agenda. And if there’s no war on women, how is it that the decision handed down on Monday affects ONLY women? If you’re a single-issue voter, you’re missing the point. If you have daughters, you should be scared to death on their behalf. If you’re a woman, you need to protect the freedom you have, or you’re likely to lose your ability to do anything that isn’t controlled by the patriarchy.

[edited to add]

And if you think this is just restricted to birth control, let Clarence Thomas settle that question for you. Pray tell me, if the Supreme Court is not intended to uphold the Constitution, and if states are not required to abide by the binding document, exactly *what* is holding the USA together?

From Patheos.com: Constitutional horror: Clarence Thomas argues states can establish official religion

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas argues states may establish an official state religion, and sees no problem with an individual state making Christianity the official state religion.

Thomas believes the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause does not apply to the states. The Establishment Clause is that part of the First Amendment that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

So what can you do?

WRITE. Write to your local congressional representatives, Senate and House alike, and tell them you want to pass the Equal Rights For All Act. Flood their offices with letters and show them you do care. Make them pay attention.

VOTE. November 4 is just a hair over four months away. The House of Representatives is replaced every two years, as long as enough people vote. Here’s the Senate situation, for midterms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_2014.

PS: Don’t forget: I told you so.

 

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