Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Supreme Court”

How Recent Supreme Court Decisions Harm All Of Us

By EOM Contributor  ladyjustice

First I’d like to provide some information on the recent decisions, then I will explain why I think they are harmful to all of us.

Let’s start with the Hobby Lobby decision first.  The court has ruled that Hobby Lobby can deny insurance coverage for particular types of birth control based on the fact that it goes against their deeply held religious beliefs.  The contraception mandate provided for in the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) had exemptions for birth control coverage for institutions or businesses whose PRIMARY purpose was the promotion of their religious beliefs.  Hobby Lobby’s primary purpose is the selling of craft items.

Hobby Lobby particularly opposed IUDs and morning after pills believing that they were similar to abortions.  IUDs are very effective and very popular among women.  They are also very expensive.  Morning after pills are necessary in circumstances where a woman may believe her regular birth control has failed or in cases of rape and/or incest when the woman may not have been protected by any kind of birth control.  According to the 35-page dissent written by Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, this decision was so poorly written that it leaves the door open for any employer to deny coverage of ANY type of  birth control.  She also says that even though this decision was only about birth control, again it’s so poorly written it leaves the door open to denial of coverage of such medical procedures as blood transfusions and mental health treatment if your employer is a Jehovah’s Witness or a Scientologist.

Now I would be more believing of Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held religious” belief concerning types of birth control if they didn’t import the majority of their products from China where millions of women are forced to have abortions every year due to China’s one child policy.  I would also be more believing of their reasoning if they didn’t invest millions of their pension plan money in pharmaceutical companies that produce the very type of birth control they object to.  Apparently where Hobby Lobby is concerned, having to pay for birth control violates their religious belief, but making millions of dollars by investing in that very type of birth control, and buying their products from China, is in no way a violation of their religious beliefs.  As far as their beliefs go, money trumps religion every time.

Now about the “buffer zone” around clinics that provide abortions.  The court ruled that one particular clinic in Boston violated the free speech of citizens because their 35 foot buffer zone included a public sidewalk.   This particular clinic was built very close to the public sidewalk in a crowded urban area.  I understand the reasoning that public sidewalks can’t be excluded.  But because of this decision women seeking a legal medical procedure at this clinic will now be forced to push their way through a crowd of potentially violent protesters.   It will also result in more clinics trying to do away with buffer zones. Protesters were always able to voice their opinions outside the buffer zone and still be heard.  They claim they want to engage in “gentle conversations about other options”.  If that were true, why have there been 6800 incidents of violence, 2500 incidents of trespassing, 42 bombings, 17 attempted murders and 8 murders at clinics in the last 15 years?  This is not a free speech issue, but it is very much a safety issue.  By the way, the Supreme Court has a 185 foot buffer zone around their building.

Now about how this effects us all:

*Since the advent of the pill, women have been able to continue/finish higher education at a much higher rate than before.

*Having a higher education means that women can provide better financial support for their families.

*Women who can better help provide for their families results in fewer families needing public assistance (food stamps, housing aid, health care) which is provided through our tax dollars, thereby saving all of us money.

*Women who space when they have children and how many they have are healthier and their children are healthier than women who have too many children in too short a time period.

*Having more children than a woman can care for or afford will result in more children going hungry, which in turn will result in poorer education for those children, because study after study shows that kids can’t learn when they are hunger.  So we will have more poorly educated people in our future work force.

*Not being able to afford birth control will most certainly result in many unplanned pregnancies.  Those women will have to drop out of the work force for a period of time, which will financially harm their families and our economy.  When and if they return to the work force will depend on how much they can afford to spend for child care.

Hopefully, men will realize how this effects them, too.  Since it’s primarily women who are responsible for birth control (although I would certainly like to see this change), men will now be fathers sooner and perhaps more often than they would like.

Yes, I realize the court decision on birth control doesn’t mean that women can’t go out and get that birth control.  But affordability equals access.  Birth control can be very expensive.  An IUD can cost up to $2000.  The pill can cost $50 – $75 a month.  If you are a minimum wage worker, that is a significant amount of money.  And as we know, women are paid considerably less than men in the workplace to begin with.

Access to safe and legal abortions is being greatly reduced in many states.  Now the affordability of the most effective types of birth control is being reduced for thousands and potentially hundreds of thousands of women.  It seems to me that everyone should wish for fewer abortions to be performed in this country.  Affordability of birth control can help accomplish that.  But when you can’t afford birth control or when your birth control fails, ending a pregnancy safely for women who desire to, should always be an option.  It’s 2014, but women’s rights are more along the lines of 1950.

I get the “religious beliefs” idea.  I really do.  But when your religious beliefs infringe on other peoples lives in this most personal and private way, something has to give.  The ability to access birth control and a safe termination of a pregnancy will benefit women, men, children and all families.  This is the greater good.  And when your religious beliefs interfere with the greater good….well, you know where I stand.

 

Is Robert Bork Right For America?

By Gaetana Drake

It’s good to understand one of the most important reasons we should all vote and that is because the President of the United States nominates Supreme Court Justices.  The Supreme Court makes decisions that effect our everyday lives.

Mitt Romney has chosen Robert Bork as co-chair of his Judicial Advisory Committee.  This means Mr. Bork will be suggesting to Mr. Romney names of possible future Supreme Court Justices and federally appointed judges throughout the country.   Mr. Bork was nominated by President Reagan to be a member of the Supreme Court, but the nomination was not approved. 

Here are some of his beliefs:

In 1963 he wrote an article for The New Republic called “Civil Rights – A Challenge”.  He claimed that laws requiring desegregation were a violation of the freedom of business owners to associate only with the people they chose.  His argument was “the natural right not to associate with others in commerce should not be overridden in the interests of civil rights, social justice, or most significantly, the interests of the moral order.”   

Republican led states are trying to impose severe voter restriction laws. Mr. Bork has a record of defending the constitutionality of poll taxes and literacy tests in state elections.  Obviously, the right-wing believes he is the man they need to help restrict voters’ rights in America.

Mr. Bork also believes that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned.  He would also give individual states the power to prosecute women and doctors who violate abortion laws.   By using Mr. Bork as “judicial advisor”, it is obvious that any future Supreme Court nominee would have to pass the anti-choice litmus test.  Mr. Bork has denounced the Supreme Court’s protection of a constitutional right to privacy in decision-making, the basis of Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized a woman’s right to use birth control.

United States v. Virginia is the Supreme Court’s 7 – 1 decision which required the Virginia Military Institute to stop discriminating and to admit its first women cadets.  Thousands and thousands of female soldiers have since served bravely and honorably, but Mr. Bork has attacked that decision for producing the “feminization of the military.”  He wrote, “radical feminism, an increasingly powerful force across the full range of American institutions, overrode the Constitution in United States v. Virginia.  VMI is only one example of a feminized Court transforming the Constitution.”

In 1971 Mr. Bork argued that the First Amendment protects only political speech, not art or science or literature.  He continues to promote censorship to deal with what he calls the “rot and decadence” of American society.  In a 1997 interview with Michael Cromartie, he expressed such disgust with the state of American culture that he said he was in favor of a return to censorship boards in America.

Rather than allow states to make their own decisions on the issue of same-sex marriage, he has advocated a constitutional amendment that would permanently define marriage as between “one man and one woman”.  He would also prevent individual states from offering gay couples equal benefits of any kind.

In 2005 the Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons, struck down the death penalty for juvenile offenders.  Bork called the decision a “new low” for the Court.  Between 1990 (when the Court last considered this issue) and 2005, there were only seven countries other than the United States that executed juvenile offenders.  They were Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and China.  Mr. Bork, however, found nothing cruel and unusual in executing minors.

And finally, Mr. Bork once ruled that an employer may require its female workers to be sterilized in order to reduce employer liability for harm to potential children, in cases where employers used toxic chemicals.  He also believes politicians should be able to ban birth control.

Poll taxes, literacy tests, forced sterilization in order to maintain employment, executing minors, censorship boards, corporate powers over individual rights, repealing civil rights and making criminals out of doctors and women…..is Robert Bork right for America?

Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act Upheld By Supreme Court

By Gaetana Drake

We’ve all heard by now that the Supreme Court gave a 5-4 ruling in favor of the Affordable Health Care Act.

I’d like to point out some very positive aspects to the plan.  Young adults who are over the age of 19 can stay on their parent’s insurance.  This effects millions of college age people in the country, who are struggling to go to school and find jobs at the same time.

A person can’t be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Your current insurance cannot drop you if you become ill.

There is no longer a lifetime maximum coverage amount.  Most policies were limited to $1,000,000 of lifetime coverage, which could easily be wiped out by cancer treatments or care for chronic conditions.

And the best part of all….it will be illegal to charge a woman more for insurance than a man.  Some states actually allowed insurances to charge a woman up to 80% more for insurance coverage.   President Obama has made it illegal for insurances to consider having a uterus a “pre-existing” condition and charging more for coverage.

Several studies have suggested that passing this law will actually result in lower insurance premiums.  This is what happened in Massachusetts when then-Governor Romney mandated that everyone purchase insurance.  97% of the citizens of Massachusetts have coverage and the average cost of premiums declined.

Some people are concerned about the tax penalty for not purchasing insurance.  The plan calls for a $150 tax penalty in 2014, if you have not purchased insurance, with the penalty going higher each year, to a maximum of $695.  However, there are no “teeth” to this penalty.  The plan specifically says that if you fail to purchase insurance and do not pay the penalty, there will be no liens on your tax return, or your property.  The prospect of a penalty simply encourages people to purchase insurance.

All in all, the Affordable Health Care Act will be beneficial to millions of American citizens.  The Supreme Court was right on this one.

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