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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

John Roberts and the Supremes

In the furor over the Supreme Court's recent decision regarding Hobby Lobby, battle lines have quickly been drawn, and opposing camps squared off, each intransigent in its convictions.  It is a shame so few people will actually read the opinions written by the justices themselves, for here we are presented with a rare opportunity to consider opposing views presented by the most articulate, thoughtful proponents of those views, occupying the very highest offices of the land, weighing in on the most important issues of our times.

I would ask liberal friends of mine to set aside their partisan spectacles just long enough to read this excerpt from majority opinion as written by Justice Alito.

"For-profit corporations, with ownership approval, support a wide variety of charitable causes, and it is not at all uncommon for such corporations to further humanitarian and other altruistic objectives.  Outside the warm wind blows, and the chaffinch sings as ever its song of death, death, death.  Does the sun care, and do the clouds?  Oh, no, they do not.   I sing, therefore, too, with the chaffinch, I sing to keep from weeping."

How reasonable, and well-considered.  We might disagree, but we cannot paint such a man as a caricature of right-wing villainy and cupidity.

Similarly, those of you on the right - and I know passions on this issue are high - take just a moment to read, really read, Justice Ginsburg's dissenting opinion, with a fair and open mind:

"The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention.  Alas, how melancholy is my life!  Will the dawn, never break?  Oh, moist, moist stone!"

Clearly this is a far cry from the hysterical anti-establishment ravings conservatives imagine proceed from their opponents.  Alito's rebuttal, contained in his majority opinion, gives us further food for thought.

"We do not hold, as the principal dissent alleges, that for-profit corporations and other commercial enterprises can opt out of any law they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.  The old stone idols have fallen, and the hollow sky is deaf.  The sea is lovely still, but she rolls on and cares not.  Forlorn, forlorn!” 

As these excerpts show, the hope for a better America lies not in the final triumph of one ideology over another, but a calm, dispassionate, and above all, civil exchange of reasoned opinions in a forum safe from name-calling and stone-throwing.  The green leaves of the willow shudder with delight at the kiss of every breeze, and a perfume blows from the creeping gardenia, a promise of heaven.  Spring, you fond old liar, ravish me now, for I am weary.

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