US Supreme Court and Religious Tampering

Once again the five Catholics dominating the US Supreme Court, which have almost always moved as a bloc, opted against the principles of a democratic society set down by the nation’s forefathers.  In the usual five to four ruling on a recent case (their use of a democratic principle to vote against democratic principles), the  five Catholic “justices”—all Republican nominated, John  Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy—cunningly made it much easier for money to be siphoned from collection of taxes to subsidize private and Christian schools. 

The anti-democratic decision was handed down in considering an Arizona (uh-oh) tuition tax-credit scheme in which tax payers who contributed to the noble-sounding school tuition organization would have an equal amount of their “donation” knocked off their tax obligation.  This scheme for tax benefits, the five guardians of democracy claimed, differed from government support of religious and private schools because the money was given directly from the individuals.  It was hairsplitting practiced as an art form.

The five Catholic “justices” apparently could see no infraction of democratic principles in this scheme to skirt the Constitutional First Amendment provision: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”   For all the brilliant foresight of the founding fathers, they never dreamed they needed to add a protective clause that “the Supreme Court shall not seek to circumvent this provision to gain advantages for their faith system.”  The supreme  “justices” also adroitly did some skirting of their own around their own pronouncement regarding what they termed “donations” by then tossing  out the case for lack of standing.  Thus the gang of five avoided any direct verdict on the constitutionality of Arizona’s tax-credit scheme. 

Arizona legislators drummed up this tax-credit scheme around 1997, and it was designed with the intention of skirting strong state laws barring use of taxpayer funds for religious or private schools.  With the tax-credit scheme, they conspired a way to open the back door for a voucher program that certainly did not benefit the majority of the people.  So, for around fourteen years that program has paid off handsomely for religious schools.  Over those fourteen years $349 million in tax money has been rerouted from the state’s General fund to private and religious schools. 

Screwed royally by the  US Supreme Court decision on the Arizona scheme were  all taxpayers who do not want their tax dollars subsidizing some narrowly defined faith system.  By the Court’s decision the spiritually diverse base of taxpayers are effectively barred from challenging such an obvious religious-friendly scheme.  By declaring that the case had lack of standing, however, the door remains partially ajar, but it allows only non-religious non-profit organizations the democratic freedom to challenge the biased Arizona law.  Unbelievably, the Obama administration actually favored the Arizona scheme!  And the Solicitor General’s Office at the US Department of Justice advocated the denial of taxpayer’s rights to challenge the dirty scheme in court!  We should remember that the Solicitor General is often referred to as the tenth justice of the Supreme Court, because more than any other lawyer in the nation, he or she makes legal arguments before the high court.

Considerably more level-headed were the four Supreme Court Justices, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Ginsburg, who dissented.  Justice Kagan, in her first dissenting opinion on the scheme, stressed the fact that the concept of direct aid under such a ruse as the  Arizona law extended wedged the door open for across-the-board government subsidies for religion—a clear violation of separation of church and state.  The five Catholic “justices” just shrugged.

Justice Kagan wrote: “Cash grants and targeted tax breaks are means of accomplishing the same government objectives.  Taxpayers who oppose state aid for religion have equal reason to protest whether that aid flows from one form of subsidy or the other…”

That is a true democratic right.  The Constitution’s clear guideline is that the government is not to fund religious activities in any way.  That noble document also clearly states that every American citizen has the right to seek justice when that principle of keeping religion out of government is violated.  That has been the law of the land for some 250 years.

There is something clearly unhealthy in a setup where five men of one narrow faith system can impose their self-serving religious understanding upon the laws of a nation that draws its strength from its widely diverse people.  Consider the Catholic imbalance of the court’s makeup against the percentage of US citizens who are Catholic: the total amount of Christians in the US, according to the Pew Research Council, is around 83%.  Of that amount only 23% are Catholic; around 53% are Protestant; and the remaining 16% are either of other faiths or no faith.  We should note also, by the end of 2007 the Catholics in the US declined by nearly four hundred thousand.  So the five to four representation in the Supreme Court do not legitimately represent the citizens of the USA.  The spiritual and religious liberty of the majority is being purposely herded toward a cliff of disaster by such rulings that intentionally take away the option to confront in the courts such outrageous government funding tax schemes for select faith system projects. 

Perhaps it is time  to call for the impeachment of at least some of the gang of five that dominates today’s US Supreme Court.

  • related postings: US Supreme Court Set Trap for Democracy, December 2010
  • Mass Distractions, February 2011
  • US Supreme Court Betrays Democracy–Again, April 2011

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