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Posts tagged with "Supreme Court"

Jul 1

Looking for Mr. Hobby Lobby

Yesterday, after the Supreme Court decided that the craft store chain was exempt from the Obamacare contraception mandate, I went to my local Hobby Lobby store.

I was wondering if it would be relieved now that its religious principles had been protected from the parts of the health care law it found offensive. I was expecting to see a big smile of relief on its facade, but it looked pretty much the same as it always had. a rather drab retail building with big orange letters spelling out “Hobby Lobby” on the front.

I asked the building, “So, how does it feel to have your religious convictions upheld by the justices of the Supreme Court?” 

I admit I felt a little silly trying to have a conversation with a store, but if the Court says that Hobby Lobby is actually a person and not just another retail corporation that sells stuff, who am I to argue?

The building didn’t answer, so I went inside. My first stop was in the art supply section, the area I know best. I figured if there was any part of the store I could talk to, this was it.

"So," I said, giving the pencils a friendly wink, "How about that Supreme Court decision? You must be pleased." No response. I repeated my question to the oil paints. No answer. The brushes were equally mute. This was indeed perplexing. If Hobby Lobby cared so much that it brought this case all the way to the highest court in the land, you’d think it would be shouting with joy.

A young lady wearing a blue vest and a name tag came up to me, looking a bit nervous. She probably wasn’t used to customers talking to  the drawing pads.

"May I help you?" she asked.

"Yes, thank you, "I answered. "Are YOU by any chance Hobby Lobby, the person?"

"Uh…I just work here."

"But you aren’t the actual artificial corporate human person the Supreme Court just ruled in favor of?"

"I don’t know who that is. I’m just an employee."

"You know about the Supreme Court decision, though?" I probed.

"Yeah, I heard  about that."

"You must be thrilled that the company no longer has to provide contraception benefits in your insurance plan, in violation of your deeply-held religious principles."

"Uh, well…" she said, looking around warily. She leaned close and whispered, "I probably shouldn’t be talking about this while I’m working, but I’m not particularly religious. I liked it that my insurance paid for that. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know how I can afford to pay for it on what I make here."

"Really?" I said. "I’m surprised. I assumed that since you’re part of the big happy corporate Hobby Lobby person, all the actual people here would be ecstatic that your synthetic corporate person’s religious rights have been affirmed.”

"Rights?" she said. "Maybe Hobby Lobby has rights, but the company didn’t ask ME what I want. I just work here."

"Yes, but…"

"I’m a woman, not a corporation. I don’t have rights."

The India ink said nothing.

What’s Next

With the conservative majority on the Supreme Court signaling that they will vote to end key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, a number of organizations are contemplating challenges to other laws they view as no longer necessary.

"The Court’s majority is saying that the Voting Rights Act is so successful that it’s not needed any longer," said a spokesman for the League of White Southern Voters. "We agree with the Court that governments in the Deep South with an unbroken history of egregious racial discrimination will no longer discriminate as soon as sanctions are lifted.

"We’re just worried that the Court won’t go far enough. We’re hoping to persuade the Justices to throw out the entire act, and not just Section 5 covering southern states.

"It’s just preposterous in this day and age to think that any states, northern or southern, will go on a binge of Gerrymandering, discriminatory voter ID restrictions, absurdly short registration periods, understaffed vote centers and inconvenient poll hours in an attempt to discourage the minority vote. We haven’t seen any of those shenanigans since way back in November of 2012."

The National Association of Sweatshops announced that “we are seriously considering asking the Court to follow its own logic and get rid of the hopelessly antiquated child labor laws. Ater all, it’s been decades since children were forced to work, proving that the law is no longer necessary. And that goes for the forty-hour work week and overtime laws, too. They worked so well they’re unnecessary.”

The American Polluters Alliance agreed. In a press release yesterday, the group stated, “The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act have been so successful at protecting the nation’s environment, we simply don’t need them any more.

"There’s a lot of evidence to prove that once these laws take effect, they outlive their usefulness. Look at the banking industry. Congress relaxed the regulatory burden on the financial sector years ago, and almost nobody in the industry has been prosecuted for any wrongdoing since. Doesn’t that prove our point?"

Added a spokesperson for the Corporate Legal Protection Council, “Look how successful workplace safety rules have been. Given the amazing decline in deaths and injuries ove the years, isn’t it obvious that we don’t need those rules? I think it’s pretty clear from the results that corporations absolutely can be trusted to put their employees’ health and safety above profits.”

"The Obama administration is living in the past," read a statement from the National Association of CEOs. "He’s asking to raise the minimum wage at a time when minimum wages have been shown to be astonishingly effective at preventing millions from falling into hopeless poverty. Why on earth would we want to continue a program that’s so outlived its usefulness? Does anyone honestly believe that American CEOs wouldn’t voluntarily pay people a decent living wage without some law forcing us to?

"We look forward to working with other like-minded groups to finally get rid of these useless, costly and burdensome laws which no longer have a place in 21st Century America."

Cameras in the Court

The justices of the Supreme Court have rejected the idea of video coverage of arguments before the court, explaining that Americans would be incapable of comprehending what they were seeing.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor justified the decision, saying, “very few of them understand what the process is.”

"It’s not because they’re stupid, although they are," growled Justice Antonin Scalia," it’s just because we’re so incredibly much smarter."

"For example," said Justice Samuel Alito, "I doubt one percent of Americans could follow the arcane logic that led to the inescapable legal conclusion that corporations, even though they are soulless, lifeless artificial legal constructs, are actually people."

"Or," chimed in Justice Anthony Kennedy, "that money and speech are identical as far as the law is concerned. It doesn’t make sense to the average person that a corporation can secretly stuff unlimited cash into a campaign coffer, and that’s the same thing as some poor schmuck standing on a street corner trying to get someone’s attention. People would just be confused trying to unravel the arguments if they saw us in action."

Chief Justice John Roberts asserted, “it would have created unneeded controversy at a very emotional time if the voters actually saw how we made George W. Bush president, despite some pretty compelling evidence that Al Gore actually won. They wouldn’t have understood the highly abstruse reasoning behind that decision. They might have concluded that it was a completely unwarranted and unprecedented decision by a court that arrogantly and recklessly inserted itself into partisan politics, instead of the finely-reasoned determination that in fact it was.

"Plus," he continued, "it wouldn’t have served this court or the nation if people had been able to see the look on Scalia’s face when I voted in favor of Obamacare. You really wouldn’t have wanted that showing up on Youtube."

Alito wondered, “would you honestly want the public to see Clarence (referring to Justice Thomas) just sitting there day after day never saying a word? They might conclude that he’s only there as a token black who reliably votes with the conservative bloc. What would that do to the public perception of the court as a legitimate body?

"For that matter," he went on, "I don’t think anyone outside this room wants to watch Scalia when he gets rolling on one of his tirades. I love the guy like a brother, but the full Antonin when he goes off is hard even for me to take."

"Not all of us are all that photogenic, either," said Justice Elena Kagan. "People might spot Ruth Ginsburg and wonder why there’s a garden gnome on the bench."

"So," Roberts concluded, "we’re not going to televise the proceedings of this court. When we really thought about it, the negatives so outweighed the positives, it was a no-brainer. When it came right down to it, it was as easy as refusing to stay an execution.

"All eight of us agreed. No cameras. Justice Thomas didn’t say anything, as usual, but we assume he concurs."

Feb 2

Whodunnit

Frustrated administration officials admitted today that they were no closer to identifying those responsible for recent attacks on Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense.

A spokesman for the Defense Department said, “shadowy organizations calling themselves “Use Your Mandate,” “Americans for a Strong Defense” and “Secure America Now” have launched brazen assaults on Mr. Hagel’s character, but we have no way of knowing who’s really behind them.

"These groups hide out in the wild border regions between Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia, where they often operate with total impunity, given the lack of any real government oversight. Apparently they are extremely well-financed, and they’re careful not to reveal their funding sources. Identifying who’s bankrolling them is a real problem for us.

"We think they’re probably a loose confederation of determined ideologues with their own agendas, but who share a common hatred of the president. They come together briefly to plan an attack, place an ad buy and then disappear back into their clandestine caves on K Street. One day it may be Sheldon Adelson, defense contractors and drug manufacturers, and the next it’s Karl Rove and energy companies."

An administration spokesman added, “we have convincing evidence that they sometimes coordinate their activities with certain members of Congress, but they’re careful not to leave any fingerprints.

"It’s pretty annoying, but we’re doing what we can with what we have to work with. We can wish all we want that America was better able to control its rogue elements and that its political system was more transparent, but when you’re dealing with a country in  which wealthy oligarchs wield enormous power and the where the legislature and the courts don’t really value democratic principles, that’s what you get."