The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Supreme Court of the United States’

THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT

Gracie wanted to go out for a walk this afternoon.  It wasn’t at a time that was on my schedule for the dog park so I thought that I would just take her in the neighborhood.  The temperature was approaching 100 degrees and I really didn’t think she would stay out very long in the heat.

So we went to the little park a few minutes away and there we found a number of children from the neighborhood, celebrating their last day of school and the beginning of their summer vacation.  They hadn’t seen either Gracie or me for some time and greeted us warmly.

One of the youngsters, a young boy named Scott came over and said hello to us and began to pet Gracie.  He’s a very bright and gentle child whose parents raised him with a wonderful sense of generosity and kindness.  Scott will be a junior in high school next year.

So we talked for a few minutes about school and his break from it.  I asked which subject he had most enjoyed in his sophomore year.  Much to my delight, he said, “history.”  As half my college background was in history nothing could have pleased me more.

So I pursued our conversation and asked, “What history did you study this year?”  He responded, “American.”

I should have known better but I pursued this and asked him if he could tell me the three branches of government.  I like giving pop tests.

Scott thought for a brief second and said, “Well, there’s the DMV …”  And at that point, despite my shock I said, “Hey, you got the toughest one.  I’m sure you know the other two.”

For a moment I thought I should correct him – but I knew that our encounter was going to be brief and I thought to myself, “Self – how could you possibly hope to overcome ten years of “education” in a minute or two?”  So I kept my mouth shut, let the kids play with Gracie a bit longer and went home.

I went online when we got back and read that the latest polls said the Supreme Court has fallen to its lowest approval rating in many years with only 44% of the American public viewing the Court positively .  Based on my encounter with Scott I was shocked at this number.

I was amazed that 44% of our populace knew there was a Supreme Court.

More significantly, despite it’s low level of positive public acceptance, it may well be the determinant in who becomes the next President of the United States.  Allow me a moment to express my thinking.

The Supreme Court is supposed to be one of three branches in our system of checks and balances.  It has the authority to overturn law which Congress enacts and has the right to overturn orders issued under Executive authority.  It might be most descriptive to categorize it as the “Court of Last Resort.”

The court is, in theory, impartial.  The Justices are supposed to view each case which they choose to accept on the basis of their interpretation of the Constitution as it applies to that case.  It is supposed to be apolitical.

The current court has made its decisions based on an obvious political bias – the four conservative Justices voting as a block; the four liberal Justices voting as a block; and the lone independent having the responsibility to cast the deciding vote.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons that our view of the Justices and confidence in their decisions has fallen to record lows in the polls.  But the truth is that, given what must be construed as a politically divided Court, the Supreme Court may well be the arbitrator of who is the next President.

Currently the Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of what we generally call “Obamacare.”  This legislation is opposed by a vast majority of the American populace.  In particular, certain provisions within the bill has helped to catalyze a solidarity movement among a particular group – our Roman Catholic citizens.

They strenuously object to the imposition of providing contraceptive and abortive “treatments” in direct conflict with their view of morality.  They view this as a First Amendment issue – Freedom of Religion.  Prayer vigils in advance of the Court’s ruling on the law’s constitutionality were held today country-wide.  They hope and pray that the Court will overturn at least portions of the bill.

President Obama has done nothing more effective in three and one half years than to coalesce the Roman Catholic minority in the country over this issue.  Many of these voters contributed to his victory in 2008.  Wouldn’t it be ironic if  the President and our Catholic friends both want the same decision from the Court – that the law be found unconstitutional?

If that were to happen, Catholic organizations would not be required to provide abortive services as the law, as it is being implemented currently, demands.   Thus they would be relieved of the current requirement that either they break the law or violate their consciences.

From Obama’s perspective, striking down the law would enable him to say, “I gave America this wonderful law which covers uninsured Americans with medical care.  I am a person of the people.  Don’t blame me if the Supreme Court overturned my great and valiant efforts.”

Should the Court overturn Obamacare it might diffuse much of the opposition which has coalesced among Roman Catholic Americans and provide him the needed extra  votes to continue his agenda for another four years.

It’s a little frightening that the part of our government which enjoys the lowest rating of any of the three branches may have it in its power to make the difference this November.

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