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The Law Is an Ass

I make no pretense to expertise on constitutional law. I have, however, seen a great deal of human misery during a long career in the Foreign Service. My experience tells me that the six reactionary justices who just overturned Roe v. Wade’s constitutional right to an abortion, despite five decades of precedent, and New York’s laws regulating gun-carry, unchallenged since their enactment in 1913, have unleashed a tidal wave of human misery. The two decisions will condemn thousands to die whether shot down on the streets or bleeding out in dark alleys after a botched abortion. Tens of thousands more will bear the scars of those two decisions for the rest of their lives.

The justices made their decisions based on their apparent conviction that God endowed them with superhuman powers that enable them to read the innermost thoughts of the men who drafted the U.S. Constitution. Never mind that those men died more than 200 years ago. Or perhaps, the justices believe that their direct line to the Creator endowed them with the wisdom to impose His Divine Law (or their own particular version of God’s Law) on the United States.

No matter, six (unelected) justices have decided, and no further route of appeal exists. Now the burden falls on the politicians who govern the states. Banning abortion requires them to argue that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”  applies only to the Congress.

Some State governments seem to believe they have the authority denied to Congress to impose religious doctrine espoused by some Christian sects on the large majority of Americans who do not accept those doctrines. Has anyone heard a reactionary politician make an argument for banning abortion that does not rest on sectarian religious doctrine? One can also ask how imposing the dogma of a specific religious sect on people who do not share those religious beliefs does not violate the Establishment Clause? God, apparently, has also enlightened the six judges to believe that their superior wisdom overrides that of that same Roman Catholic Church whose teachings all six claim to follow; they support capital punishment when the Pope does not. They probably reason that Pope Francis is only the Vicar of God while they are the Voice of God.

Reactionary American politicians’ hypocrisy boggles the mind; when was the last time a God-fearing politician demanded the Pope refuse communion to a Catholic politician who supports capital punishment? God apparently also enlightened Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton who announced that the slaughter of children at Uvalde was part of “God’s Plan.” In fairness to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, he has not ventured into theology; he simply stated that the mass slaughter of innocent children is the price of our freedom to carry assault rifles anywhere we want. We should ask Messrs. Paxton, Cruz, and the six justices to explain to two-year old Kevin McCarthy why the murder of his parents in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb, fulfilled God’s Plan or helped preserve liberty.

These same politicians also commit the sin of Blasphemy; they put themselves in the place of God and have the power to decide which sin to ban. Nothing in 2 Corinthians 5:10 – “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” indicates that Attorney General Paxton will stand in for Christ on Judgment Day. As an Orthodox Christian I have been taught that I must answer personally to God, in the person of Christ, for my sins, not to politicians. Muslims, Jews, Anglicans, and a large number of people of other faiths – to mention only a few – share that belief.

One of the six reactionary justices, Clarence Thomas, also argued that this decision should be extended to revoke constitutional protections for other sinners, which judging by his previous arguments and voting record, includes homosexuals and the descendants of runaway slaves. The six judges seem to envision the conversion of the United States into a theocracy, akin to that in Iran, with the Supreme Court playing the role of the Ayatollahs. After all, both groups wear robes.

For those wondering about the title of this article. Charles Dickens, a 19th century English novelist, popularized it in his novel Oliver Twist in 1838. His character Mr. Bumble, the unhappy spouse of a domineering wife, is told in court that “…the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.” Mr. Bumble replies, “If the law supposes that, the law is an ass – an idiot”.

‘The law is an ass’ first appears in Revenge for Honour, a 1654 play published by the English dramatist George Chapman, who argues about punishing a man for a duel over a love affair. The sobriquet applies to the justices as well.

Those who object to describing the six justices as ‘reactionary’ should look up the term. ‘Reactionary’ describes politicians who wish to turn back the clock to a mythical past, usually one of their own imaginings, rather than real history. The late Osama bin Laden expounded at length on such interpretations. In point of fact, Originalist legal reasoning, i.e., that original text overrides subsequent interpretations, as expounded by the Federalist Society, is identical to Muslim sharia law. Do not confuse ‘reactionaries’, i.e., the current GOP, with ‘Conservatives’.

 

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