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SCOTUS and POTUS and a Bad Couple of Days for the Black Robe Regiment

During the past week it was good being an American. That’s right! You heard me correctly! Well, I should say, it was good being an American with my social, ethical and political persuasions. In an unlikely, almost cosmic, two days SCOTUS and POTUS were on the same wave length. (Of course SCOTUS is Supreme Court of the United States and POTUS is President of the United States). I say it was cosmically unlikely because the present SCOTUS is a conservative Republican court and the present POTUS is a Democrat. In two remarkable days SCOTUS gave great cheer to we progressives and left Christian fundamentalists and right-wing Republicans feeling betrayed.

Day One: SCOTUS rules in favor of the government on the Affordable Care Act (more affectionately or hatefully known as Obamacare). This was big and will remain big until and if the Republicans win the White House, House and Senate in 2016. We bleeding heart progressives are hoping Obamacare will be bedded in enough by then that the Republicans wouldn’t dare kill it, if indeed they win all three prizes. Time will tell, but don’t forget they shut down the government to fight evil.

The deal was this: States can establish their own insurance exchanges for people to buy health insurance or rely on the federal exchange. 34 states did not set up their own exchanges. The act includes these four words: “established by the state”, which opponents of Obamacare interpreted to means that the use of federal exchanges is illegal.

When there is ambiguity in law, the Court looks to see if the ambiguous words support or detract from the original intent of the legislation, an important legal principle. To rule against the government would have meant the conservative judges deciding against their own conservatism. That, of course, could have happened. SCOTUS betrayed its conservative tradition of supporting state rights when it selected Georg W. Bush as POTUS. But on this day, the conservative judges joined their progressive colleagues and protected millions of Americans in a 6 to 3 decision. As Chief Justice John Roberts said: “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."

Day Two:  SCOTUS unleashes a million rainbow flags and celebrations by ruling in favor of marriage equality. This decision seemed more in doubt, and the Court split in a 5 to 4 vote. Still, the majority rules, to the despair of fundamentalists and a lot of Republicans. Republicans frequently scream about “activist judges”, which are judges that make rulings they disagree with. But they now find themselves in a nightmarish dilemma that threatens to fry their cerebral circuits. This SCOTUS was supposed to be “their supreme court”, and has been in many ways. But here they are being activist judges messing with traditional marriage. Already Republican candidates for POTUS are saying the GOP needs to “restock” SCOTUS with conservatives and consider a constitutional amendment to give the states the right to regulate marriage. The first is a real possibility. The second seems like cloud cuckoo land.  

I’m trying to feel some sympathy for those on the wrong side of this decision. On Twitter distraught people were threatening to move to Canada. Despite myself I laughed. I’m hoping thousands of them do, and before they learned that Canada legalized marriage equality years ago. Even more dramatic, Glenn Beck said that between 10,000 and 17,000 pastors were willing to die opposing Christian persecution and same-sex marriage. 

Mr. Beck has a thing called the Black Robe Regiment  of 70,000 pastors.[1] Apparently – and I really don’t have that many more days on planet earth that I want to spend time verifying this – but apparently, a British official called American preachers the Black Regiment because they all wore black robes, and that these black robed preachers were to blame for the American Revolution. If they had just kept their mouths shut, Americans would have been quite happy to remain British. Ah, the power of the pulpit. Perhaps Mr. Beck’s Black Robe Regiment has another revolution in mind, but this time because of sex and not taxes. Goodness knows how the Black Robe Regiment took the double whammy of Obamacare Day and Marriage Equality Day. So far, however, I haven’t read about any deaths among the faithful. Perhaps the Regiment is making preparations to go to Canada. If so, as the saying goes, don’t slam the door on the way out.

Yes, quite a week. And to top it all off President Obama gave one of the most remarkable speeches given by a president. If you have forgotten that he is an African American, watch this speech. A black president in a black church filled with black people. They know what the Confederate flag stands for. POTUS’s speech, was enough to even cause this re-entering American to hope, at least for a while.

Copyright © 2015 Dale Rominger

[1]  Found two websites for the Black Robe Regiment. The first is called the National Black Robe Regiment and the link is above in the text. The second is simply called the Black Robe Regiment. I made light of the Regiment, but it seems to be a substantial movement.

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