Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Sunday, March 19, 2017


SCOTUS: No laughing matter

by Tom Sullivan

Judge Neil Gorsuch of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

I once watched a noted physicist use the theory of relativity to refute religious truth claims to a gaggle of students. Truth, not just fact, was relative, a matter of opinion dependent on the viewer's frame of reference. It seemed a curious claim at the time. It now seems we may get to examine whether the applicability of law is a matter of a believer's frame of reference when Senate confirmation hearings begin tomorrow for elevating Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It seems Gorsuch sets great stock by religious opinions and believes that courts should defer to a believer's conscience. Dahlia Lithwick explains at Slate:
Indeed, Gorsuch opened his concurrence in that 2013 Hobby Lobby case with the caution that:
... all of us face the problem of complicity. All of us must answer for ourselves whether and to what degree we are willing to be involved in the wrongdoing of others. For some, religion provides an essential source of guidance both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability.
The real wrongdoers, then, are the judges who force people of faith to sin. The sinner’s conscience swallows all inquiry.
The way the physicist asserted relativity renders truth inoperative. Lithwick continues:
It’s not just the great deference Gorsuch shows religious adherents that is worrisome. He also believes that the views of religious adherents are beyond factual debate. Again in the Hobby Lobby case, he wrote that companies must pay for “drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg.” That claim is simply false, even with regard to Plan B. It is a religious conclusion, not a medical or legal one. Whether that view is his or he simply declines to probe whether the religious conclusion is accurate, the effect is the same: He has written into a legal opinion a religious “fact” not supported by medical science.

This kind of thinking matters especially when the tremendous respect for religious dissenters is not balanced against the harms incurred by nonadherents. Gorsuch sometimes minimizes or outright rejects the third-party harms of religious accommodations. As Yuvraj Joshi points out at NBC, “while the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby considered the impact of the case on women, Judge Gorsuch’s opinion does not even acknowledge the harmful effects of denying access to reproductive health care on female employees and dependents. Instead, his sole concern is for religious objectors who feel complicit in the allegedly sinful conduct of others.”
Lithwick observes that this conception of religious liberty allows believers (of a certain sort, I might add) to trump objective fact and others' concerns. It will be interesting to see if Gorsuch faces questions about this from the Judiciary Committee. Jeff Greenfield suggests otherwise, citing an unnamed scholar as predicting "a vapid and hollow charade, in which repetition of platitudes has replaced discussion of viewpoints and personal anecdotes have supplanted legal analysis."

Jay Michaelson wonders whether Gorsuch's leanings regarding corporate personhood will be on view in the Senate. He may not have ruled on cases like Citizens United, but in close cases, Michaelson writes, Gorsuch sides with businesses over indviduals:
The most telling of Judge Gorsuch’s opinions are his dissents, in which he frequently departed from his mostly conservative Tenth Circuit colleagues to stake out even stronger pro-business positions. A report by the left-leaning People for the American Way catalogued 35 such dissents, including four out of five workers’ rights cases where the court found for the worker, but Gorsuch dissented to support the company.
Michaelson concludes:
For too long, progressives have given conservatives a pass on the concept of “originalism.” It was never the Founders’ original intent to allow corporations to become as powerful as they are today. Quite the contrary; their original intentions were to limit them or even ban them entirely. It is absurd to suggest that Gorsuch’s pro-corporate rulings, or the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and Hobby Lobby, in any way reflect the original intentions of the founders.
“I’m really going to be going to certain areas that serve what I consider his pro-corporate bias, which I think has been the bias of the court, the Roberts court,” Minnesota Democrat Al Franken tells the Washington Post. For the former "Saturday Night Live" comedian, tomorrow's hearings are no laughing matter.