Friday, July 24, 2020

Three Branches of Government

Roger Carlton

We welcome Roger Carlton back for another of his interesting posts. Roger is columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper in Robbinsville, NC

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is one of three branches of the Federal Government. Congress and the Executive Branch are the other two.

One thing is certain. The Founding Fathers had great experience with an all-powerful monarch in the form of King George III. They wanted nothing to do with repeating the tyranny of that leadership so they created a form of government with balance of powers. The Congress made the laws, the President carried them out and the Supreme Court settled disputes. Pretty close to a perfect construct at the time. Not so good today because many of our leaders have forgotten that deliberation of issues based on scientific facts and compassionate implementation is the necessary foundation of democracy.

My conservative friends rejoiced over the Senate's confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito. They rent garments and gnashed teeth over the appointments of liberal Associate Justices Steven Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. Yet, until recently, the past six presidents, of which three were D's and three were R's, did a pretty good job of bi-partisan appointments of fair and balanced people. The labels conservative and liberal don't seem to apply to all votes of the current SCOTUS.

Recent decisions by the Supreme Court have my conservative friends in a dither. They have concluded that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court has sold them out. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Supreme Court has acted responsibly and defied their pundit-imposed labels in these controversial cases. Most importantly, one of the three branches needed to put on its adult britches and avoid the chaos being created by the other two.
Here are a few of the controversial cases. The first is letting our President know that he does not enjoy blanket immunity to avoid responding to subpoenas for his tax records. The Court acted responsibly by sending the debate back to lower courts so that the tax filings would not be released until after the election in November. To quote Chesterfield Smith who was President of the American Bar Association during the Watergate investigation, when the Supreme Court ordered President Nixon to release certain damaging Watergate information for which he claimed executive privilege, "No man is above the law."

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recent decision stopped the White House from ending the program which has kept 650,000 young immigrants in limbo for years. Ending the program would have sent them back to the countries from which they were taken by their parents. The Supreme Court made it clear that the Administration had not made a rational case to justify the harsh decision. The same reasoning caused the 2019 decision to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census.

The Louisiana abortion legislation that doctors had to have privileges in nearby hospitals "to protect the women" was overturned because the exact same law had already been overturned in Texas. The majority opinion regarding expansion of the Civil Rights Act to include employment for the LGBTQ community was written by President Trump's appointment Neil Gorsuch. The ability of employers to deny providing insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious or moral beliefs was upheld. One other case allows states to use public funds for scholarships to attend religious schools where only private schools were allowed before. There have been decisions by the SCOTUS that make both liberals and conservatives happy and unhappy.

So, save your garments and don't wear out your teeth. Let's respect the Supreme Court as our last line of defense against the chaos we see in the other two branches.

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