Yep…interesting is about the right word I reckon. We’ve had a lot of SCOTUS decisions that deserve a little overview and then we were on vacation for a couple of weeks.
First up…SCOTUS. You all know what they were…abortion, guns, Indian rights, religious rights…and many more…so I’m not really going to address the substance of the decisions other than at broad strokes…but figured a few comments on both the why’s of the decisions and more importantly the reaction to them were in order.
Let me say up front that while we’re right of center we’re not that far right of center and many of the more reasoned arguments made by both center-right and center-left people on these issues make perfect sense…but unfortunately the extremists on both sides of the spectrum and the complete unacceptability of both side’s extremists of any sort of compromise led to the decisions rendered. And…to be fair…we don’t absolutely agree with several of them because we think that they were too far reaching but in reality we also understand why the majority made some of those far reaching decisions…in some cases it’s better to just rip the bandaid off rather than try to ease if off. In particular for the abortion decision…there is a lot to be said for the court to stay out of the decision as they are supposed to interpret and judge the constitutionality of a law rather than make the law…and Justice Alito’s opinion specifically said that this problem was not for the courts to decide but was for the elected bodies to decide. Congress could pass legislation codifying the legality of abortion…and that law would pass muster even with the current makeup of the court…but either Congress or the various states are the ones that should be solving this problem.
Getting on to the reasons for some of these decisions…they come down to two basic truisms. First is what has always been named as strict versus loose construction of the constitution. Strict constructionists…or originalists in the current parlance…see the Constitution as the founding law document of the land and that it says exactly what it says and no more. You read the words and they say what they say. Loose constructionists believe that the Constitution has to be translated to modern times and that essentially it should mean whatever the court decides it means today base on current social demands or opinions or whatever else…in other words…it should mean what we want it to mean. I completely understand those competing thoughts on constitutional law…but constitutional experts have been debating that ever since it was ratified and the court has been swinging from one to the other side depending on who appointed the justices ever since Founding Father days. Yes…those same Founding Fathers had no idea of what technology would achieve in weapons or medical capabilities or technical capabilities but the principles they stated can either be read as what they said or what one wants what they said to mean.
The second truism is that both political parties have…for at least the last 50 years or so…gone farther and farther towards extreme positions. I remember back in the 60s and 70s that legislators could agree to compromise and both sides could give a little and get a little of what they wanted so that legislation could be enacted. However…since then the far left and far right have increasingly taken over at least the early stages of nominating contests…and that takeover has resulted in the elimination of any interest by even more towards the center legislators in compromise. Those who compromise with the other side get primary opponents that are far more electable in the primary process since it is mostly the extremes that vote in primaries…but that frequently results in nominees that are completely unelectable in either a statewide or national election. Yes…a few of the extremists do make it through…on both sides…but that largely happens in states that lean heavily to either the red or blue side…but more of them are defeated in the regular election than win simply because they’re far out of the mainstream.
I really wish we had not lost the idea that compromise is a good thing. Abortion, gun rights, voting rights, religious rights, etc, etc…could all easily be solved by a compromise position that gave a little and got a little. Without belaboring all of the decisions…in the abortion issue one can easily see how this is really two issues…one is religious based on religious (or not) beliefs about conception and when life begins…and the second is a legal issue that *could* be resolved by some sort of compromise based on what the Constitution says or whether it is deferred to the states or viability of the fetus. Unfortunately…neither the pro life side or the pro choice side is interested in any compromise…both sides have consistently taken a “my way or the highway” approach which as discussed above kills any possibility of compromise legislation since Congress critters want to keep their jobs. I could easily say the same thing about any of the other controversial opinions issued in the past couple of weeks.
What really gets me though…is the reaction to these decisions. We’ve seen a whole bunch of opinions and inflammatory statements in the news…
- Conservative justices lied under oath during their confirmation hearings and should be impeached. However…when you read what they actually said without a preconceived notion that they lied…they actually equivocated and basically said that precedent should be respected but could be overturned. They also said that a decision depended on the circumstances of a particular case and they could not prejudge. In fact…the same media and progressives who claimed they lied are perfectly fine with our incoming SCOTUS justice saying she could not define what a woman was while the other side calls her either uneducated or a liar because everybody knows what a woman is.
- Demands to pack the court…despite the fact that this would just be a tit for tat situation and 40 years from now we would have a SCOTUS with 3 dozen members.
- Demands for term limits on the court…despite the fact that this would require a constitutional amendment.
- Demands to abolish the Electoral College because “those conservative justices were appointed by presidents who did not even win the popular vote”. This ignores the fact that abolishing the EC would…again…require a constitutional amendment, that without the EC there would be no United States of America because the other 10 states did not want to be ruled by MA, VA, and NY, and that…again under the constitution…the popular vote is completely and 100% irrelevant because *that is not how the President is elected*.
- Gun bans.
- Additional gun restrictions that are clearly in violation of the SCOTUS decisions and the constitution. For instance…Governor Hochul up in NY is having the legislature pass a bill this week that specifies that despite the recent decision only those places of business that specifically post a sign allowing firearms possession can be entered by a person in possession of a firearm. Again…this gets back to the whole refusal to compromise idea above…there are a lot of common sense gun laws that I would fully support…just as I would also support common sense abortion laws and common sense voting laws and common sense when are you an adult and can do adult things laws. However…that again…requires the ability and willingness to compromise that we have largely lost.
- But it’s precedent…and precedent should never be overturned under stare decisis…despite the fact that SCOTUS has overturned precedent 145 times (according to the article I read) in history and despite the fact that without overturning precedent we would still have segregation, no Miranda rights, and many other things the left (and right) hold dear. What stare decisis says is that precedents deserve consideration but can be overturned if they are clearly wrong under the constitution.
I could go on and on…but I think you get the point.
Many of the things we’ve seen in news articles, comments, tweets, and various other places indicate that the writers have zero idea of how the government works, why we have the government we do, or what the constitution says. Part of that is the loss of what we called Civics class back when we were in high school where you learned things like this…today’s students do not get that part of their education which means they don’t have a clue. The second part of this is that there are far too many terms in general use that most people believe are actually in the Constitution because they saw it on twitter or wherever but actually they aren’t in there at all. For instance…take the term “separation of church and state”…nope, it doesn’t say that at all. What it does say is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. In the recent case about the high school coach in Arizona who prayed after a game and who was voluntarily joined after some years by some of the players from both teams was held to be constitutional because it did not reflect an “establishment of religion” by the state and the second part of that portion of the 1st amendment allows the free exercise of his beliefs. The minority in the decision and media have decried this decision as “a dagger the wall of separation between church and state” because they don’t like the decision, not because it wasn’t based on the law.
Ya see…’round here we took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution (well, at least one of us did)…so naturally we’re sorta partial to that whole Constitution thing…
Ok…vacation. We don’t talk in advance much about vacation here on the blog now that we’re no longer living in the RV full time so that our house is always with us…it’s a security thing because figuring our our home address on the internet is a pretty trivial thing and saying that we’re going out of town for awhile is like putting up a sign saying “Please rob me”. So…we don’t advertise it ahead of time.
However…I can now tell ya…since we got back late yesterday afternoon…that we’re back from an almost 2 week trip up to Indianapolis and Vincennes in IN, followed by 3 days in Lexington KY, a visit to Cumberland Falls in KY before heading back home. We had a great time, did some Fun Stuff©, but are glad to be back at home. I’ll have another post in a few days once Neil gets done processing all the photos we took.
We did learn a few things on our trip…I’ll talk more in detail about them in the upcoming vacation post…but short story is that we’re traveling differently than we did in the RV. We no longer have our house with us and have travel days as well as Fun Stuff© days as well as grocery/laundry days and are staying in hotels and eating most meals out…so we need to finish inventing the way we want to travel via car. More details to follow but we’ve already decided that future trips will have a rest day once a week where we don’t plan to do anything, that mostly we’ll try to finish the day’s Fun Stuff© activities by about 1400 or so which allows us to rest for an hour or two before showering and heading out to dinner, and we’ve come up with a list of things we need to add to our “take this on travel because we don’t have our house with us now” list.
Briefly though…we visited Connor Prairie up near Indy which is the home of one of Neil’s ancestors back in the day and is now a living history place like Williamsburg in VA and Pilgrim Town up in Boston. After that we picked up a few things that we ended up missing on our US-50 trip the last year in the RV because of Neil’s kidney stone out in WY, then spent a couple days on the Bourbon Trail in Lexington…this was our third visit to the area and we went to different distilleries/breweries each time. Heading homewards…we spent one night in Cumberland KY to see the waterfall colloquially called “Niagara of the South”…we missed the moonbow since that requires a full moon but we did get some great shots of a rainbow in the mist from the falls which are pretty impressive before heading home. Arriving yesterday about 1700 or so…we unpacked the car, left the rest of the unpacking for today, and Neil went out and got us sushi for dinner then we crashed and went to bed early.
Sorry…no photos yet as Neil hasn’t done his job yet.