Supreme Court correct to protect religion

Contrary to the letter from Donnabelle Richtsmeier, our Supreme Court was correct to overturn New York’s restriction on the size of religious gatherings.  (See copy of letter below.)

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution reads in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”     The 14th Amendment reads in part, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…”  So, states cannot violate our federal constitutional rights.

No exception is made to allow our governments to violate our constitutional rights because of a pandemic. If that were true, what limit would there be on our government’s response to a pandemic?

The statement in the preamble of the Constitution, “promote the general welfare“ does not grant any specific power to our government.  If we gave our government the power to do anything that would promote the general welfare, there would be no limit on our government.  Our Constitution establishes a government with limited, enumerated powers. Restricting the exercise of religion is strictly prohibited.

Donnabelle Richtsmeier’s letter to the Des Moines Register:

I was astonished to learn that the Supreme Court ruled against the lower courts and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 restrictions that included limits on religious gatherings in places of worship. The justices certainly did not take into account current scientific evidence and advice from public health authorities that such measures could help stop the spread of the virus.

The Supreme Court is no longer a bipartisan group of judges whose job it is to interpret the Constitution in a fair and just way. It is a group bent on promoting their own philosophies and politics. In their ruling, they forgot the phrase in the preamble to the Constitution that states “promote the general welfare.” Certainly, efforts to protect citizens from COVID-19 is promoting the general welfare of the citizens of not only New York but the entire United States.

The framers of the Constitution wanted to guarantee religious freedom giving citizens the right to worship in ways suited to them, free from harassment or harm. The Supreme Court really took this out of context. Limiting the size of religious gatherings during this severe pandemic is in no way an attack on the freedom of religion. It is a way to protect the health of citizens and to save lives. The justices must put aside their individual prejudices and become a bipartisan group working together to uphold the Constitution in order to “form a more perfect union.” If they can’t do this, maybe it is time for some changes.

— Donnabelle Richtsmeier, Des Moines

Supreme Court was right on gay marriage

The Supreme Court did get it right on the gay marriage issue.  The fourteenth amendment to the Constitution says, “No state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”  Equal protection of all citizens by government is fundamental. Government must not give favorable or unfavorable treatment in the same circumstances to any individual or group. The right of two people to voluntarily marry is a fundamental right, even if it is not stated in the Constitution.  Remember the ninth amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” This ruling does not require any person or church to conduct or participate in a wedding between gay people.  It only requires that state governments not discriminate between heterosexual and homosexual weddings and marriages.  There was a time when  our Constitution was interpreted to not protect marriage between people of different races.  The current situation is very similar.  Even if a majority of people think that gay marriage is wrong, peaceful and honest people who do no harm to others should be free to voluntarily enter into marriage and government should not discriminate against them whether or not they happen to be of the same sex.

Supreme court was wrong on Obamacare!

I will respect the ruling of the Supreme Court in upholding the subsidies under Obamacare, but the decision was wrong.

Those who drafted, supported, and voted for Obama care clearly intended to withhold money from those states that did not set up their own state health insurance exchange – just like many other laws that require states to meet certain requirements in order to get federal money.  In this case, they intentionally wrote the law to provide subsidies only to people in states who purchased their health insurance through an “exchange established by the state.”  It was intended as a carrot or a stick to get the states to comply.  Many did not comply, so the strategy backfired.

The job of the Supreme Court is to resolve disputes based on the law, the facts, and the Constitution.  It is not the job of the Court to fix mistakes in political strategy.  That is what they did, and it was wrong.

Corporations are people, money is speech.

After witnessing the deluge of outside political advertising that inundated Iowa during this latest election cycle, it’s easy to conclude that our government should place limits on political contributions and political advertising.  But our Supreme Court correctly decided in the Citizens United case that governments should not be allowed to limit the independent political expenditures of groups of people, even if they are organized as corporations.
 
Most of the corporations that make independent expenditures for or against candidates or ballot issues are simply groups of like minded people who have come together to promote their common beliefs.  They are not profit-making corporations that run businesses and sell stock on Wall Street.  Citizens United is a group of people who are organized as a corporation explicitly for the purpose of promoting a political agenda.
 
If contributions are given directly to a candidate, there is good reason for concern about bribery and corruption.  But as long as people or groups are independent of candidates and their campaigns, they should be free to spend as much of their own money as they want, and they should not have to disclose the names of contributors.  Our founding fathers published pamphlets and other communications anonymously when they advocated against their rulers and called for a revolution.  They were very much thinking about political speech when they wrote in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”

 

Obamacare supporters want activist Supreme Court

Regarding The Register editorial today (11/17/2014) entitled “Obamacare foes are hoping for activist judges”  Exactly the opposite is true.  It is the Obamacare supporters who are hoping for activist judges to interpret the law differently than it was written.  The letter of the law is clear.  It states that only people who sign up for Obamacare through state run exchanges are eligible to get subsidies.  Obama and his team created this threatening provision intentionally to pressure states to create their own exchanges. But more than 30 states, including Iowa, did not knuckle under to the pressure.  The Supreme Court should uphold the law as written, not as Obamacare supporters wish or hope it was written.  This is what happens when, as Nancy Pelosi famously said, “we need to pass this bill to see what is in it.”
Register editorial: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/11/17/editorial-obamacare-foes-hoping-activist-judges/19154603/
Source video of Jonathan Gruber, Obamacare expert advisor, explaining the intentionally threatening provision:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBAHvX1WdWc

Hobby Lobby decision correct.

A Supreme Court ruling today (6/30/2014) upheld our fundamental right to use our own private property in accordance with our own moral beliefs.  The ruling gives priority to natural religious and private property rights over the politically created guarantee that private business owners will provide employees with a health insurance benefit that covers certain birth control pills.

The owners of Hobby Lobby objected to the Obama Care legal requirement that they provide their employees with an insurance benefit that covered morning after “abortion” pills.  The law was in direct conflict with their sincerely held, honest and peaceful religious beliefs.  Hobby Lobby has never used force or fraud to get people to either work for or patronize their business.

Governments are the only organizations that can legally use force against peaceful people.  We created our government to use force, if necessary, to protect our fundamental right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.  Government force should not be used to make peaceful people act against their own religious beliefs – no matter how good the cause or the intentions.

By the way, I am a peaceful, honest, pro-choice, atheist, libertarian.