Need another reminder why voting in the 2014 mid-term elections is so very important? With only about a month to go, the future for the hold Democrats have on the Senate is looking quite dim, and the House is almost certainly out of reach – and probably destined to give even more seats to Republicans.
As we sit here wondering if Democrats will keep the Senate, Justice Antonin Scalia (a friend of my brother-in-law, if you want to know what I’m up against) recently remarked that the Constitution allowed the Supreme Court could favor religion over nonreligion. In other words, it seems that he believes that the “freedom of religion” means that, in theory, if a religious challenge to a law forbidding Nativity scenes were to come up, the Constitution would dictate that he would rule on the side of the religious group.
But don’t take my word for it, here’s what the conservative Washington Times had to say:
Justice Scalia, part of the court’s conservative wing, was preaching to the choir when he told the audience at Colorado Christian University that a battle is underway over whether to allow religion in public life, from referencing God in the Pledge of Allegiance to holding prayers before city hall meetings.
“I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion,” Justice Scalia said. (Source)
Kind of scary, huh? In the very conservative Catholic circles that Scalia and some members of my family frequent, this is a very real belief. In their minds, religious law does trump federal law, and somehow their freedom of religion is being persecuted by “godless liberals” like myself. Oh, and that there’s a Satanic force behind all of this – Justice Scalia and others, they believe that as well.
Just this week, we had a state senator in Texas compare the imaginary war on his religion to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. That’s just one example out of many where right-wing religious conservatives are pretending that their beliefs are under attack, all while forcing their ideas down the throats of everyone else – in the name of religious freedom, of course.
It’s not just attempts to do things like install the Ten Commandments for “educational purposes” in courthouses like Alexandria, Louisiana judicial candidate Lauren Saucier has promised to do as part of her campaign platform. It isn’t just allowing only Christian religions to distribute literature in schools, a practice the Freedom From Religion Foundation has fought against successfully.
Let’s look at climate change for example. Recently 35,000 walruses came ashore in Alaska due to losing their icebergs, thanks to global warming. Combine the fossil fuel lobby with millions of conservative Christians who believe it isn’t a big deal because Jesus is coming back any day now, and you can see why we can’t get any serious action taken to combat this threat to the only known inhabitable planet in our local star system.
Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas also have a rather comfortable relationship with the Koch Brothers, which is quite troubling from a conflict of interest standpoint. Now mix that with their conservative religious beliefs and it’s no wonder that they ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby’s ridiculous claim that providing insurance coverage that included contraceptives violated their religious freedom.
So why is getting out the vote in November so crucial when it comes to the Supreme Court? Here’s why:
Ginsburg, 81, and Breyer, 75, are two of the leading liberal voices on the court, and also among the oldest. Ginsburg, a two-time cancer survivor, has endured the loudest calls to step down.
Should either justice retire in the final two years of President Obama’s term, Democrats would find it difficult to replace to progressive judges with like-minded successors if Republicans control the Senate. Even if Democrats keep their narrow majority, confirming a Supreme Court justice takes 60 votes and becomes increasingly more difficult at the end of a presidency. (Source)
The next couple of decades of Supreme Court decisions including possible rulings on reproductive rights and marriage equality could very well rest on the outcome of the 2014 elections, and Justice Scalia has shown us what we could expect with the balance of the court firmly on the conservative side. Again, here’s what else is at stake besides the possible future of the Supreme Court.
—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives
—33 seats in the U.S. Senate
—46 State Legislatures
—38 State and Territorial Governorships.
Are you registered to vote? Do you know where your local polling place is? If not, turn off the TV, get off Facebook, and make sure that your friends and family are registered to vote as well. If we don’t vote, we can expect to see more people like Justice Scalia making decisions that will affect us and our personal liberties for generations to come.
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