The Vacuum In The Seat Left By Ruth Bader Ginsberg
She had a good long run. Now that she’s gone, Trump may very well use the carrot of theocracy to motivate Evangelical Christians in his base.
I had known this was coming for a long time. I have watched Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg go in and out of cancer treatment like a revolving door for years. I knew that one day, she wouldn’t come out on the other side. Last Friday was the day.
While I can feel for the loss sustained by her family and friends, I also know that she died doing something she loved or she would have retired long, long ago. I had hoped she would have made it a few more years, like until after Trump is finally deposed from office someday. But I’m not even sure he’s going to lose in November. Joe Biden is about as exciting as a roll of quarters, and that’s the one thing I don’t like about him. No mas.
So I can see it coming. This is an educated guess here based on the evidence before me. Trump is going to nominate someone so unfriendly to women’s rights, reproductive rights, and the First Amendment for anyone who is not Christian, that there is going to be a rather serious uprising. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority leader, will make some outrageous excuse that we can seat a judge on the Supreme Court during an election year, for he has already confirmed that there will be a vote before the election if Trump sends up a nomination. Trump, and the Evangelical Christians that back him, will cheer him on, to give them their coveted theocracy.
I would hope that we’ve learned our lesson about riots and that we take to the courts instead with long, expensive and legally thorough challenges to Trump and his merry band of partisan judges. I would hope that we demonstrate that saving the children has little to do with reproductive rights. Rather, I would like to see saving the children mean, saving the mothers by taking better care of them. Mothers who have cause to consider abortions and should be able to hold the root cause of all unwanted children (according to one Mormon woman), the fathers, responsible for the cost of raising the children they give birth to. I would hope that women retain reproductive rights in the next term of the Supreme Court, and beyond.
Notice that I didn’t say “abortion rights” above. I said, “reproductive rights”. It’s kind of like this: If you’re a woman and a man asks you out on a date, you’d like to be able to say “no” and walk away, right? Sure. Now, let’s up the commitment. Let’s say that you’re a pregnant woman just a few days, and the man who fathered that child offered no support and turned out to be downright abusive. In that situation, you don’t get to walk away — you must make a choice. You’d want to be able to say “no” if you can’t support the child and you don’t believe in orphanages, you know the prevalence of child abuse in orphanages and foster homes, don’t trust adoption, and on and on.
You might even see the hypocrisy of the Evangelical Christians who support Trump and his judicial nominees. I think it’s great that Trump is brokering phony peace deals between the Israelis and their tiny Arabian “republic” neighbors. I saw the picture of Benjamin Netanyahu, signing the deals. I saw his big fat smile. I’m glad that he’s getting some peace in the deal, but we should note that he’s also getting some ammo to go with it.
So how many Christians know that we pay a huge amount of respect for the beliefs of the Jewish when it comes to reproductive rights? How many of those fervent Evangelicals know that more than 20,000 abortions are paid for by the government of Israel every single year? How many of them know that we cut a $3 billion check to the government of Israel every year? (Obama gave them $38 billion, but that doens’t count if you’re a Republican Senator.) How many of them would be willing to accept that the typical Israeli Jew believes that life starts upon the first breath, not conception?
I’d say that the absence of any political pressure to coerce Israel to change their ways is a sign of very deep and abiding respect for the religious beliefs of the Jewish of Israel. And, like Trump, I respect their views, too. I want Israelis to have the freedom to exercise their religious beliefs. That dynamic says to me, that the First Amendment means something to Trump and his friends, but that they have zero respect for the religious views of any American who is not “with them”.
So I can see Trump telling us that he’s going to nominate someone for the rest of us with very little sincerity. That person will have been vetted by the Federalist Society and the Susan B. Anthony List. They’re going to tell us that the unborn have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, as a parenthetical matter, after that unwanted child is born, he will have to take his chances at a foster home, an orphanage, or some other institution that may not have his best interest at heart because they’re waiting for the next government check in the mail. Trump and his pals will continue to work hard to ensure that orphaned children are only adopted by a family with Christian values — Muslims, Buddhists and atheists need not apply.
I know, I’m being a bit of a pessimist here. But I hold Trump in supremely low regard. I see him as one of the most corrupt of the corrupt. He is legendary for cheating at golf. He is legendary for the sheer number of mechanics liens he has on his properties and the number of contractors he has stiffed. He has paid off a porn star to keep his affair out of the news prior to the 2016 election. He is legendary for playing both sides of the aisle for money and bleating his excuse, “That’s how you get things done.” I can hear the acrimony if Obama held these attributes. But Trump? He’s a saint.
This president claims to hold a desire to change things. This is a man who has derived enormous wealth from the system as it is. He “owes” the system a debt, a debt that can only be repaid with time in the White Hosue spent leaving the system very much as it is, while running out the statute of limitations for the tax laws of the fair city of New York. One more term should do it. Therefore, I have little reason to believe that Trump will make any meaningful changes that help the middle class. I don’t see it happening now, I don’t expect to see it happening anytime soon.
With a new justice on the bench of the Supreme Court, they will be able to kill off Obamacare. They will have no plan to replace it. They appear to be hell-bent on increasing job insecurity as if we could work any harder to keep our jobs. Every member of Congress is a millionaire. They have nothing to worry about from an existential perspective. Trump is a billionaire, he owes us nothing.
But there is something else about the single-minded purpose of repealing Obamacare and staving off universal health care: reproductive rights. I’ve seen articles alluding to this one thing. Obamacare did something for women’s reproductive rights that no other legislation had done before. Obamacare required employers to provide insurance coverage for women’s reproductive health. Universal health care, Medicare For All, or some other public option presents the same pressing problem: that the government might somehow fund, directly or indirectly, an affordable way for a woman to exercise their right to reproductive choices. Just think, “Hobby Lobby”.
I think that deep down, a few very powerful Christians believe that they need some assurance, some government assurance, that their religion will be supported in favor above all others. The elimination of women’s reproductive rights through government interference in the markets would be that assurance. Given the recent legislative and judicial trends at the state level and the steady unfavorable polling with regard to the GOP’s stance on reproductive rights, I don’t think they will ever get unequivocal assurance that the government stands firmly on the side of Christians in this country. Rather, I would hope that the government is agnostic about religious affiliation. This is something I would like to see in Trump, but I’m not holding my breath.
Given the way the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution has been interpreted by the courts lately, I think we can say with a fair amount of confidence, that the conservative majority that Trump is building in the Surpeme Court will be more than happy to carve out exceptions to the laws for deeply held religious beliefs. This means that where there is a religious belief, that belief may be used as a get out of jail card for the pious, with one important caveat. The person who propounds said beliefs in conflict with the law, had better be Christian to exercise that exemption. All others need not apply.
And that is one step closer to theocracy than I am comfortable with. How about you? I know of at least one Christian who would be happy with a Christian theocracy in America. I asked him what he would think if the Federal government suddenly declared that only Christians have rights protected under the Constitution. His response? “What’s wrong with that?” I have every reason to believe that there are a few million people like him in this country, and I’m not sure I’d like to see them attain unassailable power. I fear that such people are much closer to attaining that kind of power than we realize. Worse, I think that’s what people are voting for when they vote for Trump.