Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Greece does a bait & switch

You knew this was going to happen, didn't you?
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court gave its blessing to local governments that want to open their public meetings with religious prayer.

It was a victory for the town board of Greece, N.Y., which stressed that it was fighting not just for Christian prayer but for the right of all people [to] express their views regardless of their faith. In a 5-4 ruling along ideological lines, the Court ruled against the Jewish and atheist plaintiffs, who argued that the practice violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Less than four months later, the town of Greece has adopted an invocation policy that excludes non-religious citizens and potentially shuts out faiths that aren't well-established in the town, according to a top secular group.

That's not quite what the five Republicans on the Supreme Court claimed, is it?
In [his decision], Justice Anthony Kennedy described public prayer as a "larger exercise in civic recognition" designed to "represent rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers." ...

Justice Elena Kagan warned that the decision in Greece v. Galloway could lead to discrimination against minority faiths. In her dissent for the minority, she accused the conservative justices of "blindness" to the "essential meaning of the religious worship in Greece's town hall, along with its capacity to exclude and divide."

No, no, it's inclusive. All Christian sects approved by the town board are welcome to pray to Jesus in their own way. LOL

Note that this was another terrible Supreme Court decision in which the five Republicans on the Supreme Court overruled the four Democrats. However, as the LA Times put it when the decision was announced, the court isn't just divided along political lines:
The Supreme Court's decision Monday to allow Christian prayers at city council and other public meetings divided justices not only ideologically, but along religious lines as well.

The five justices in majority are Catholics, and they agreed that an opening prayer at a public government meeting, delivered by a Christian pastor, brings the town together. ...

Three of the four dissenters are Jewish: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. The fourth, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was raised as a Catholic, but she is said to be not a regular church goer.

Justice Elena Kagan faulted the majority for approving an official policy of "religious favoritism." In her dissent, she said the majority might view the matter differently had a "mostly Muslim town" opened its session with Muslim prayers or if a Jewish community invited a rabbi every month.

The Catholic Church is the biggest Christian sect in America and the world. Is it really surprising that five right-wing Catholic men see no problem here? No one is going to discriminate against the Catholic Church in America.

On the other hand, three of the four dissenters are Jewish. (Three of the four are women, too.) I don't know whether Justice Sotomayor still considers herself to be Catholic or not ("not a regular church goer" could mean anything), but it's not just politics that's separating our Supreme Court justices.

We saw this exact same thing in the court's terrible Hobby Lobby decision, too, where the five Catholic men on the court tried desperately to limit the decision to birth control, which (a) mostly affects women, and (b) is a longtime Catholic Church issue (though Catholics in America still use birth control just as much as everyone else, despite the wishes of the church hierarchy).

You don't care about freedom of religion if you're in the majority, right? After all, the majority doesn't need defending from the minority (the right-wing's ridiculous hysterics about "Sharia Law" notwithstanding).

Maybe I can understand that - not agree with it, just understand it - when it comes to ordinary people. But these are justices in the highest court in the land. They're supposed to be defending our Constitution. Why are they acting like political/religious activists who are determined to undermine it?

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