Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Leave your Conscience and Morals at the door

Campaign fundraising is as dirty a game as politics itself. Anyone and everyone can be bought and sold for the right price. It starts with the insistent fundraising calls.

By Gretschman for Occupy World Writes

Call center agent. By FiveOne51 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Call center agent. By FiveOne51 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Last night at 8:30 PM the house phone rang. Yes, some of us still have those old fashioned contrivances in our domiciles. The caller wished to speak with my father who has been dead for over 3 years. My wife asked who was calling. The caller identified himself as a solicitor for the Republican Party of Minnesota. Since we have both asked the Republican party solicitors many times to remove this name and phone number from their call lists because they are asking for a DEAD person, my wife asked for the solicitors’ supervisor to be put on the line. I took the phone, and after about two minutes “Josh” came on the line.

I asked “Josh” if he was a volunteer, or if he was paid to solicit for the Republican party. He said that he was indeed paid, and he was sorry to have troubled us, he would remove the diseased’s name and phone number from their records and that the Republican Party of Florida would not call us again. I asked him WHY the Republican Party of FLORIDA would be contacting people in Minnesota to solicit funds. I asked him WHERE he was calling from.

At this point “Josh” admitted that he had misunderstood where his solicitor was calling, he thought it was Florida, when in fact it was Minnesota, because they were soliciting funds for Stewart C. Mills III to wage a campaign against incumbent Rick Nolan in the 8th District of Minnesota. Mills ended up losing to Nolan in 2014.

“Josh” said that he was employed by a call center for the Republican Party based in Mankato Minnesota.  Once “Josh” assured me yet again that his call center would not call our number again, I thanked him for that courtesy and my wife and I started researching what we would find out to be some startling truths about political fund raising -American style.

We first located the call center in Mankato, Minnesota. it is one of many businesses located in a multi-use building in the college town of Mankato. We did enough research to find out that the business “FLS Connect” has four call centers. One in St Cloud, Minnesota, one in Phoenix, Arizona, one in Springfield, Missouri and the one that we had contact with in Mankato. FLS Connect’s co-founder Jeff Larson, is a Karl Rove protege.

Being a call center solicitor for FLS Connect is a good job if you want to make ten dollars an hour and you have a criminal record as a felon. if you aren’t so good at persuading people to part with their money, you can become a “supervisor” who handles the actual credit card transactions of the money solicited by the people doing the solicitation. item of note though -“supervisors” at this company only receive nine dollars an hour. Our research into what current and former employees said about their workplaces was very eye-opening. One of the people reviewing the business said that it was a “great” job as long as you left your ‘conscience and morals’ at the door when you came to work. Another onetime employee stated that they were instructed not to let the person being solicited from off the line until a donation is made. The average length of employment at this business was less that two months.

The next thing we researched was why the scion of the Mills Fleet Farm chain of stores would need to have the Republican Party solicit donations on his behalf. During his 2014 race against Nolan, he said, “I will be playing a role in my campaign financially.” The Mills family recently sold out their family business to the tune of 1.2 billion dollars to the a “leading global investment firm, KKR, [who] manages investments across multiple asset classes including private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate, credit and hedge funds.” It would seem that a political candidate might not need money from the constituents in his or her district with a ‘family ‘bank account that runs into ten figures. Running for political office must be more satisfying, or at least less painful when you lose if it is other peoples’ money that you are campaigning with.

The last point that we researched did not yield any answers. Why would the solicitors try to solicit money for a political candidate from the 8th district of Minnesota from potential donors who do NOT live in that district?

The sad part of this is that this style of solicitation is not just limited to one political party or certain political offices. Thanks to the SCOTUS “Citizens United” decision, the ever increasing amount of money required to keep up with the candidate on the other side of the ballot will cause this type of heavy handed solicitation by paid solicitors to become even more commonplace. Charities are required by law to provide information to donors about how much of their donations ACTUALLY go to said charity after expenses. I wonder what we would find out about political donations if the same standards were applied to politics.

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A Worthwhile Target

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission decision. In this landmark case, the Supreme Court ruled that independent political expenditures by non-profit corporations are protected under the First Amendment and not subject to restriction by the government. The ruling has also extended to for-profit corporations, unions and other organizations.

Mind you, this doesn’t mean that corporations can contribute directly to candidate campaigns; that is still illegal under Federal law. What it does do is prohibit the government from restricting political expenditures by corporations and unions other than direct contributions to individual campaigns.

Continue reading

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Election Day Loser: the ‘American Voters’

By Lauren McCauley

As Americans rushed to the polls on Tuesday, voting rights watchdogs reported that this election day marked the most “unfair, confusing, and discriminatory election landscape” in fifty years.

Voters nationwide reported a slew of problems, including: long lines; broken machines; voter intimidation and misinformation; a lack of foreign language assistance; missing and misspelled names from registration; and general misinformation over registration, polling place locations, and identifications required. Continue reading

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We Hoped For The Best, But…

Last Friday, we ran a piece on the The Democracy for All AmendmentThis wasn’t the first time we’ve touched on Citizens United and its impact on our politics and policies; we ran a piece back in January proposing that our Congressthings wear the logos of their “sponsors” at all public engagements and while conducting the business of politics. But, last Friday’s post was especially timely, considering that a procedural vote was scheduled for Monday.

We pointed out the inherent flaws in the bill that went before the Senate, especially when compared to HJ Res 29, which is a comprehensive resolution introduced at the behest of the grassroots organization Move to Amend.  First of all, the bill didn’t address transparency in the campaign contribution process. Secondly, it was designed to be passed with a companion bill, The People’s Rights Amendment, that defined the legal status of a corporation as far as constitutional rights went. We questioned whether the two bills instead of the one all-encompassing bill strategy was a smokescreen – pass one and we’d be so happy that one got through that we won’t notice that the other’s going nowhere, when both are needed the way that they’re written.

Monday’s procedural vote almost gave us reason to be hopeful; the Senate voted 79-18 to let it advance to the floor. However, then the corporate and big money spin machine went to work, and we heard such absurdities as a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United was an attempt to repeal the First Amendment. Our favorite psychopath from Texas, Ted Cruz, went as far as to claim “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels could be thrown in jail if the amendment passed, as according to him, the amendment would outlaw political speech by corporations. Of course, Teddy knows it does nothing like that at all; yet that and other such absurdities were spouted as gospel by those on the right to ramp up the paranoia among their followers. Then came yesterday’s vote.

via Facebook

via Facebook

We hoped that we would be wrong in our prediction of what would happen, but alas, it was not to be. In a completely partisan voice, the Senate voted 54-42 to pass this amendment. However, since this is the modern Senate where everything besides confirmation of nominees to various posts requires 60 votes to pass instead of a simple majority, the bill won’t go forward to the House. Once again, the Republicans in the Senate paid more heed to the corporations putting lobbyist money in their pockets than to listen to the American people.

We could not help but note this vote was taken on 9-11, when most media outlets would be paying very little attention to what the Senate was doing. So, once again, while we were distracted, our elected officials did their utmost to screw we the people out of having any say in our government.

So, what can we do? Is it game over – have they won? Absolutely not! 

Be an active participant in the process, and not a passive watcher. Get involved with Move to Amend. Let your Congressthings in both the House and Senate know that you’re watching; remind them that they work for you, and not the other way around. Get out and vote in November. Just do it.

America’s future generations will thank you…

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A Home Worth Saving

Photo by USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory from Beltsville, USA [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory from Beltsville, USA [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Basic education in America includes lessons in civics: specifically the formation, purpose and operation of the government. We are taught that our Constitution provides for three branches of government to serve as a system a checks and balances so that one ideology or platform does not have dominance over all others; so that unjust laws can be changed; so that the people have redress for their grievances.

The three branches, executive, legislative and judicial, are designed to provide stability to the democracy of the nation, much as a 3-legged stool provides more stability than a stool of two or four legs. This is what children are taught across the country, unquestionably one of the most expected lessons they will learn during their education. It becomes part of the “religion” of being American to understand this function in its design and purpose.

America has seen this stool become weak. It is being attacked by termites. Piece by piece, we are watching the deterioration of our solid stool, and with it goes the faith in our country and our patriotism as a collective.

What are the termites, you ask? The influx of money within all three branches has caused a deeper polarization of the divides between and within political parties, elected officials and even filtering down to large sections of our populace.

Examples can be clearly seen in any news account. Listen to the rhetoric of protesters on the southern border. Compare Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks about how Israel is justified in their actions while the international community is horrified at the deaths of over 90 children and the injuring of more than 600 additional innocent kids within the Gaza Strip. Consider SCOTUS rulings that first, through Citizens United and then through Hobby Lobby, have shown the court to be biased and irresponsible in the application of their duties.

And then we can talk about the austerity measures being brought about through a do-nothing congress, state houses that reward corporations while citizens go without clean, running water and/or electricity and a tightening of the food assistance programs around the waists of the nation’s children. We are privatizing schools, police forces, city administrations and hospitals in such a way that we no longer can offer reasonable protections to the most vulnerable of our country’s population.

If there is one way to strike fear in the heart of any homeowner, it is to tell them their house is infested with termites. The response will be immediate, the cost will not be prohibitive, and the results will be expected or the process will be repeated.

Why is our country not worth the same protection?

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Legislation They Can Bank On

Looking West-Northwest at Citigroup Center, New-York. Photo by Johan Burati [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Looking West-Northwest at Citigroup Center, New-York. Photo by Johan Burati [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We have all heard of Bernie Madoff and his now infamous ponzi scheme which bilked millions of dollars in assets from unsuspecting investors, most of whom lost their life savings and security as they entered their “golden” retirement years. The fallout from the crime still reaches into society today. Americans are tired of not seeing justice brought to those responsible. But Bernie’s in prison, so everything is as it should be again, right?

Not so fast, and not so easy. Remember that JP Morgan Chase was fined $13 billion by the US government for their part in practices leading to the financial crisis. And how are they connected to Madoff? Madoff ran his bogus investments through accounts at JP Morgan Chase, which led to an account manager noticing unusual activity.  JPMorgan filed a report with U.K. regulators in October 2008 that famously described Madoff’s returns as “too good to be true.” But JPMorgan never filed a corresponding report with U.S. regulators.  In January, 2014, JP Morgan Chase reached a $1.7 billion dollar settlement to resolve the criminal charges related to Madoff.

Monday, July 14, Citibank followed the tradition, with a Department of Justice settlement of a $7 billion fine, the result of an investigation into Citi’s defrauding of investors with mortgage securities leading up to the financial crisis. Yet, as we may feel some small degree of an ah-ha moment by knowing Citi was fined, one must remember they also posted their earning reports the same day which showed higher than expected returns for the cycle. By posting the same day as the fine is announced, Citi is preempting the need for damage control by inferring assurances that not even these fines can damper their profitable way of doing business.

To his credit, US Attorney General Eric Holder stated that this settlement in no way releases the parties from possible future criminal prosecutions. We wonder how long we will wait to see if he will make good on his inference of justice to be served.

And why are these banks so self-assured that they are untouchable?

In May of 2013, the New York Times reported lobbyists activities in Washington that showed CitiGroup lobbyists directly involved in the actual drafting of legislation that oversees banking regulations. “In a sign of Wall Street’s resurgent influence in Washington, Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill. Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word. (Lawmakers changed two words to make them plural.)” states a report in DealBook,

So what we have here are people who choose to disregard laws and regulations in pursuit of huge profits and mega bonuses. When laws and inconvenient factors such as the Department of Justice gets in their way, they simply go to Washington and draft new rules that they bribe lobby Congressional members to pass as law. When the American public first caught wind of what was going on, they convinced the Supreme Court that they had rights as corporations, because they are people too. SCOTUS agreed with them in the Citizens United ruling, which has opened the floodgate to the demise of democracy and the birth of plutocracy.

When the fox is left in charge of the hen house, it is a matter of time
before the chickens are all devoured.

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Unchecked and Unbalanced

Women corp rightsThe Supreme Court finished its session on June 30. Historically, the last week of the session seems to be the week that the more awaited and/or controversial decisions are announced, and this session was no exception. And, while there’s a few decisions that we agree with such as Riley v California, where the court ruled that the police needed a warrant to search your cell phone except for under “exigent circumstances,” there’s four decisions that we find alarming.

The first was the NLRB v Noel Canning decision on June 26. This ruling overturned three recess appointments made by President Obama to the National Labor Relations Board on the grounds that the Senate wasn’t really in recess, as they were holding “pro forma” sessions every three days. This may not look so egregious at first glance, but; In Evans v Stephens from 2004, the 11th District Court of Appeals upheld George W. Bush’s recess appointment of Judge William Pryor to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The court said in that decision:

“The challengers have used both history and textual analysis to support their contentions that the ten- or eleven-day break in the Senate’s Session that underlies Judge Pryor’s appointment was not a “Recess” within the meaning of the Recess Appointments Clause. We have considered all of the arguments. But the arguments are not so strong as to persuade us that [President Bush’s] interpretation is incorrect. […] The Constitution, on its face, does not establish a minimum time that an authorized break in the Senate must last to give legal force to the President’s appointment power under the Recess Appointments Clause. And we do not set the limit today.”

However, the Supreme Court’s decision said that the President can only make recess appointments if the Senate was in recess for ten days or longer. This looks to us as if the Supreme Court itself is writing law, and not judging the legality of said law; precisely what the court should not be doing.

The second, also from June 26, was McCullen v CoakleyThis ruling concluded that the 35 foot buffer zone around abortion clinics designed to protect the clients entering and exiting the clinic from unwanted interactions with anti-abortion protesters was a violation of the protesters’ First Amendment rights. What makes this decision so horrifying to us is the history of assaults, both verbal and physical, on women and staff entering the clinics; the women to use constitutionally protected services, and the staff for providing the services. What makes this so ironic is that the Supreme Court itself has no problem with the 100 foot buffer zone around the building they meet in, but we digress…

The other two cases were from the last day of the session. Harris v Quinn deals with public unions; in this case, home care workers in Illinois. A majority, but not all of the workers voted to join a union (SEIU). However, the union is required by Illinois law to negotiate for all employees, and not just those who are union members.The SEIU then negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that went well for the workers, with wages almost doubling, yet the non-union workers objected to a provision in the agreement calling for “agency fees” or “fair-share payments” to reimburse the union for negotiating on their (the non-union workers) behalf.

In 1974, the Supreme Court had ruled in Abood v Detroit Board of Education that workers can be required to pay fees to public-sector unions to cover bargaining costs. However, here the court ruled that the workers who filed suit are not “full-fledged public employees” because they are hired and fired by individual patients and work in private homes, even though they’re paid in part by the state via Medicaid. In the court’s opinion, because they aren’t really state employees, they don’t have to pay union dues. In writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito called the Abood precedent “questionable” and “anomalous”, thereby almost guaranteeing further challenges in the future. The implications for unions are frightening, as this sets precedence for non-union members to receive all the benefits without contributing, thereby reducing the union’s power to negotiate as they won’t have the financial resources.

Finally, we have Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores IncThis one’s fairly known; how Hobby Lobby claims that paying for four certain forms of birth control for their women employees as required by the Affordable Care Act violates the owners’ religious beliefs, as they believe them to be abortifacients. Now, to be fair to Hobby Lobby, they do provide sixteen other forms of birth control at no charge. However, their religious beliefs are questionable in this case.

Hobby Lobby claimed that providing coverage for Plan B and Ella (two of the four contraceptives named in the suit- the other two are IUD devices) substantially limits its religious freedom. However, up until the point where they decided to file suit back in 2012, those two contraceptives were covered under their health insurance plan. Furthermore, as of 2012, Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) employee retirement plan had more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions, including those companies who make Plan B, Ella and the IUDs that Hobby Lobby says they morally object to.

So, faced with Hobby Lobby’s rank hypocrisy, the testimony by the government and 10 medical groups headed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that the drugs in question were not abortifacients, and their claim that corporations have religious beliefs, how did the Supreme Court rule? They ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, of course. In a 5-4 decision along purely ideological lines, the court ruled that closely held for-profit businesses could assert a religious objection to the Obama administration’s regulations.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote a blistering 35 page dissenting opinion, saying among other things that the court “ventured into a minefield.” She also stated; “In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

We can’t help but wonder what church a corporation attends. What’s its denomination? We’d really like to attend a corporation’s baptism – preferably on the ocean or a deep lake, and we get to do the baptizing. But, again we digress.

Occupy World Writes is saddened and outraged by what’s happened to the Supreme Court over the last decade or so. These four decisions show what a travesty and sham the Supreme Court’s become. It’s gone from supposedly being politically neutral and ruling only on legality to being a corporate pawn that makes laws as much as interprets them, and their rulings against protecting a woman’s right to choose what she can do with her own body are reprehensible. Is it any wonder that the public’s confidence in the Supreme Court’s fallen to an all time low?

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Rulings à la Court

By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 ()], via Wikimedia Commons

A federal judge in Milwaukee struck down Wisconsin’s voter identification law April 29, declaring that a requirement that voters show a state-issued photo ID at the polls imposes an unfair burden on poor and minority voters.

A Circuit Court judge has resoundingly rejected Arkansas’ new photo ID restrictions on voting, declaring the law to be “null and void” and in violation of the state’s constitutional right to vote.

Tuesday’s decision could set a precedent for similar legal challenges in Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere. There are 31 states with laws requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven states have strict photo ID requirements similar to the one a state judge struck down in Arkansas last week; that decision has been appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Pennsylvania’s voter ID law has been put on hold because of court challenges.

The state of Texas, which has fought the federal government over several environmental regulations, lost a major battle Tuesday as well; U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled in a 6-2 vote to reinstate a regulation that aims to limit the effects of air pollution across state boundaries.

Texas was one of a number of states, joined by industry and labor groups, that had sued the Environmental Protection Agency over the Cross-State Pollution Rule in 2011.

Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling means that Texas and 26 other “upwind” states in the South, Midwest and Appalachia will have to reduce some of their emissions that contribute to air pollution in East Coast states like New York. Coal plants are among those likely be the most affected, particularly as they are already dealing with new limits on their carbon dioxide emissions.

While our intention was to bring a much longer list, these are the examples we could find that give us a few silver linings to the dark clouds of court rulings we have seen lately. As we watch our country progress further into a oligarchy-plutocracy blend, we fear rulings that favor the human factor will decline.

Like a menu at your favorite diner, court rulings usually are stand-alone items that don’t add up to much until you start putting them together. The overwhelming decisions favoring corporations and the 1% could fill a book. At this rate, the humans in the equation will languish from want while the corporations and wealthy scoff the concern.

Would you like to see the dessert menu?

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The Religious Right

Photo By Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Roberts Court (2010-) - The Oyez Project) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Roberts Court (2010-) – The Oyez Project) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It will be the end of June before women in America know if their personal religious freedom and right to health care is subject to the religious beliefs of their employer. That is when the Supreme Court will deliver a decision in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases heard this last week, to allow employers to be exempt for coverage of certain contraceptives in ACA if they disagree on religious grounds.

SCOTUS is hearing this case in part because of the recent war on women. We’ve covered that issue, and will continue to do so. They are also hearing this case because of the conflicts created by the Citizens United decision, determining that corporations are individuals. There are few Americans born with umbilical cords attached that agree with this “opinion.”

By Dave Bullock from Derby, UK (Bible Original) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dave Bullock from Derby, UK (Bible Original) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Hobby Lobby case exists because business owners believe their religious freedom is more important than any of their female employees. They apparently also believe that women are not intelligent enough to know the difference between emergency contraception, planned birth control and additional medical benefits from certain birth controls for other medical conditions. They seem to believe that women of faith are not strong enough in that faith to know their expected behavior and therefore need legislation to protect them from this weakness.

In an in-depth article published February 20, 2014, from Salon titled How the religious right is interfering in medicine and putting patients in danger, writer Valerie Tarico, Alternet, states “…in order to maintain their privilege in the healthcare system, Churches and Religious corporations fight legal battles that undermine human rights in society at large. They have argued that the conscience rights of institutions and corporations should be able to trump individual conscience. They have challenged anti-discrimination laws, and won, effectively establishing legal precedent that freedom from discrimination is not a constitutional right. They have argued that they should be exempt from labor organizing because giving workers the right to organize impinges on their sovereignty. Driven by dogma, lawyers find circuitous arguments and judges uphold “rights” that under any other light would look patently immoral.”

Photo By J. Troha (Photographer) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By J. Troha (Photographer) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Setting apart all arguments in the Hobby Lobby and war on women perspectives, I can’t help but ask more questions about the discussion of religious freedom in general. I’m quite confidant there would be an uproar if a religion believed that public beheading was the correct form of punishment for any and all crime. The point here is simple: Whose religion has priority if the views are not the same?

The Constitution’s First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

In this case, application of the First Amendment is almost too simple, which is also why it has reached this level in appeals. “Respecting an establishment of religion” means that to rule in favor of Hobby Lobby is to declare that respect to the religion of the business is established OVER the rights of the employees of that business. There are 300 recognized religious organizations in America. If all religious viewpoints were the same, would we need this many? Whose religious views are allowed to over rule others?  “Or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” means that the business owner’s rights are not prohibited unless they personally are forced to do something in direct violation of their religious beliefs. They personally are not required to pay for the things they are objecting to nor are they required to use any form of birth control method they object to; they simply want to deny that coverage to the 15,000 plus employees they have in 600 stores across 41 states because they want those employees to be forced to live under their religious standards.

Pope Francis, March, 2013. Photo from presidencia.gov.ar [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pope Francis, March, 2013. Photo from presidencia.gov.ar [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It is amazing to me that there is no discussion about the religious freedoms of women who have been paying into insurance plans for years that have no restrictions on covering MEN’S reproductive health. Example: We were never asked how we felt about paying for impotence drugs, which in some religious views could be God’s way of saying the impotent person should stop procreating. If the argument is that it is for purposes other than procreation, is not that the argument used against women having the same coverage for reproductive health? Is this a double standard applied by the men who would not allow women to testify to the committees deciding these policies? Are these the same men that have a demonstrated lack of basic understanding of the facts and medical truths related to women’s health?

Another aspect that the bulk of commentators ignore is of the rights of individuals who choose freedom from religion, such as atheists. Contrary to the image that is extolled from clergy and religious groups, most atheists I have met are people that believe their destiny and life are theirs, not controlled or created through divine powers. They are committed to living in societies that treat people with dignity and respect, and strive to make the world a better place for all. These types of rulings discount their rights as Americans by having the Supreme Court decide that religious freedoms are established over that of non-religious human rights.

What happens when religious sects are allowed to influence governmental policy? Egypt comes to mind as a prime example. A leader of a religious sect was elected as President. It was not until the extreme policies of the Muslim Brotherhood were enacted on the people that the group was identified as terrorist and taken from power. Do we need that to happen in the United States before the foresight of our founding fathers is fully understood?

By Constitution_Pg1of4_AC.jpg: Constitutional Convention derivative work: Bluszczokrzew (Constitution_Pg1of4_AC.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Constitution_Pg1of4_AC.jpg: Constitutional Convention derivative work: Bluszczokrzew [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

So how will SCOTUS rule? In 1990, Chief Justice Antonin Scalia wrote “We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs [p879] excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. As described succinctly by Justice Frankfurter in Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586, 594-595 (1940): Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs. The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities.” (Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute.)

That was then. This is now. If we are to believe the Supreme Court rules based on law rather than personal opinion, there would be no question on how they will decide. The fact that this case is even being heard by the Supreme Court is proof of something I did not want to see.

Gender Infographic
Courtesy of: 4th Estate Project
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We Fought This War Already

Photo by Harris & Ewing [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Harris & Ewing [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Women in America are fortunate. At least that what the laws will would tell you. Enforcement of those laws and the very rights of women are so threatened in today’s landscape that we have reached a new level in our oppression of over half the US population.

This is not about just contraception and health care rights. It is not a question about abortion alone. It is not just about our right to equal pay for equal work. It is more than about our right to live in a society where we can be safe in our homes and on our streets from domestic violence and rape. It goes beyond the voter ID laws that target women who have changed their names.

This is about control. Today’s atmosphere is so ripe for the oppression of women that ALEC and certain lawmakers are now introducing stone-age era legislation – here’s just some of the latest highlights in the battle:

  • Legislation making it harder for women to escape abusive marriages by labeling single mothers as “child abusers,” locking them up and awarding custody to either the father or the state.
  • Not enforcing current laws that are supposed to keep abusers behind bars – instead, they are released and their anger is unleashed on the victim.
  • Debates and committees in Washington meet to discuss women’s healthcare, “legitimate” rape and other issues, yet women are barred from the committees or from testifying.
  • Some communities are no longer prosecuting domestic violence because of budget cuts, yet this crime continues to skyrocket as economic and social conditions worsen.
  • SNAP, WIC and other programs are being slashed at both state and federal levels, worsening conditions for struggling women who earn .23 cents less an hour than their male coworkers..
  • Numerous laws at state levels are designed to make it difficult if not outright impossible for women to exercise their rights to control their own bodies.

One must question what men fear so much that causes the same approach to handling women’s issues as is orchestrated in anti-trust monopolies. If SCOTUS can rule that corporations are people, than women should be considered corporations. Then we could file a class action lawsuit on the merits of an oppressive monopoly that denies us our right to compete, to function safely and to protect our interests.

I declare myself a non-profit so I no longer have to pay taxes to a government that suppresses me.

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