After reading Sunday's Advertiser-Tribune editorial, several phrases struck me as misleading and continuing the policy of the paper to publish overwhelmingly negative editorials from a variety of journalists who disagree with any policies of the current administration. Once a week, I find a journalist who is moderate/liberal and not encouraging the House of Representatives to "just say no" to any proposals put forth by the Democratic representatives. What angers many Americans today are Republicans who sign a pledge at their elections to not compromise on any issues that try to find compromises for the betterment of all people.
However, Sunday's editorial concerning the timing of the Health Care Act to appear before the Supreme Court prior to the 2012 election should in no way "concern the high court justices" bears scrutiny. While I am not a Constitutional attorney, I am an historian whose career was based on checking facts; I am often appalled when our newspaper publishes editorial columnists who frequently seem to ignore or fudge the facts.
The Supreme Court was created to be a check on the powers of Congress and the president, to decide cases impartially and in many cases, set ground-breaking decisions such as Brown vs. the Board of Education. During the past three presidencies, Democratic and Republican, the Supreme Court has moved far from political impartiality to virtually becoming its own political party, influenced to a large degree by corporate money.
Justice Clarence Thomas has been asked to recuse himself in any upcoming vote on the Health Care Act because of the activities of his wife, Virginia Thomas. In 2009, Mrs. Thomas founded Liberty Central, a non-profit conservative political advocacy group. At the time, she was the president and CEO. Following the passage of the health care bill in 2010, a memo was signed by Mrs. Thomas and posted on Liberty Central's website that called for the repeal of the Health Care Law. After receiving criticism, she withdrew the memo. But she continues through her nonprofit organization, speaking engagements and other social media to urge the court to overthrow the health law.
The A-T's editorial stated: "... there is something to be said for making the law ... a guide in dealing with important issues," but they pledge upon taking office to put those personal opinions aside and carefully review legal decisions according to the Constitution, not what spouses, politicians and religious groups believe. As for economics, the decision by the court to allow corporations to fund political races without constraint on the amount of their contributions not only overturns previous legal rulings, but allows corporate money to dominate the political system.
This and other decisions have profound implications for the upcoming elections. A decision to rule "invalid" the health care bill in its entirety sets back the issue of caring for our poor, especially our children. If the court looks only at the provision requiring all Americans to buy insurance, there is indeed room for debate. However, if that provision is overturned, people with no insurance would continue to appear at emergency rooms across the country for primary care, and the cost of that care is passed on to all Americans.
Excluding that provision, how many Americans would give up having their children on their insurance until age 26, especially if those children do not have jobs? If you are a parent of a child with any type of pre-existing medical condition, do you want your insurance company to cancel your policy? What if you lose your job? What if you, the parent, have a pre-existing condition and simply cannot get insurance? Anyone who sees the United States as a moral, ethical nation cannot in good conscience seek to overturn these portions of the health care law.
Our Supreme Court justices in the last 25 years have become more and more politicized, influenced by religious concerns, social mores and most importantly, money. We look to an overburdened justice system for actual justice, yet those who are poor must take a court-appointed attorney who does not have the financial resources to adequately defend the accused. We have close to 100 federal judges who are not being approved by Congress because of politics. When the legal system is so backlogged, it's much easier to enter a plea bargain and send the accused off to extremely crowded prisons for lengths of time, often far longer than warranted.
We don't have to just look at China as our economic opponent. We share with them on a per capita basis the highest number of those incarcerated in prison in the world. Here we do indeed have something in common with our economic opponent.
The Supreme Court should stand above these issues and not be influenced by family members, religion, politicians or corporations. Americans are furious with Congress for acting like squabbling family members and that means Democrats and Republicans. The members of Congress are an embarrassment. Please give us a Supreme Court that rises above the fray because ultimately their decisions will affect all of us, if not now, then in the future.
Mary Jo Murray is an associated professor emeritus at Heidelberg University.