Monday, June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Overreach

Two important cases hit the Supreme Court this week (and we will discuss each of them in this post), but honestly, the wrong one is receiving the attention.

Don't get me wrong - homosexuality is a sin. But I don't see that the Supreme Court decision is that big of a deal from the standpoint of Christian ethics. From the way people are talking, this signifies that Christians have lost the battle on marriage and that this redefinition will corrupt society.

While marriage is incredibly important, and its redefinition will has corrupted society.

The reason why this decision is no big deal is that Christians lost the battle on marriage back some, I don't know, years and years ago when it was still shameful in our culture to be homosexual. We lost the battle on marriage when it was redefined to only mean a union based on the love of two people, and their desire for commitment.

Marriage has never been solely about people. It's been about God. It's been a covenant before God that reflects God's relationship with His people. In the Old Testament, that meant the Israelites; in the New Testament and now, that means the church. At the point where we lost that in heterosexual relationships, the battle on marriage was already lost.

Once marriage is redefined as only the celebration of love between two people (we are not talking about sex here), can you really argue with homosexual marriage? I mean, it certainly seems offensive and nonsensical to say that heterosexual love is somehow more worthy to be celebrated than homosexual love.

But once marriage was redefined by the way our culture framed it, that's what we would be left arguing. But in the grand scheme of things, this court decision matters little from the standpoint of the sanctity of marriage because marriage had already been corrupted long ago. This is simply a manifestation of that.

From a political standpoint, things do prove to be a bit more interesting. It would seem to me that this whole homosexual marriage decision should never have been made by a court. The Supreme Court's role is to interpret the Constitution, and the way that they managed to work that into this decision is a little questionable.

To say that the right to marriage is included under the fourteenth amendment's protection is just flat out ridiculous. There is very little referenced in the text about the dignity that Justice Kennedy sees as paramount to this position. Additionally, you could question, why marriage ever had anything to do with the government in the first place? Oh, right, taxes.

But why even on a broader level is this a federal issue? The fourteenth amendment is the catch-all for applying the Constitution to the states and those claims are very dubious indeed.

Determining what marriage should look like in each state is something that should probably be decided by people in that state, not bureaucrats in robes sitting behind a bench. But I have shown a little too much of my libertarianism in this post.

I guess we should look at the other important Supreme Court decision now. I haven't heard as many opinions on this that I disagree with, so I won't spend as much time on it. But I wonder how many of you immediately know what I'm talking about when I mention the other decision.

The Affordable Care Act was being challenged, but not so as if to repeal it or take it off the books. No, this challenge said that the text of the law did not allow federal power where the federal government wanted power.

The question was about in places where states do not want to establish exchanges. The federal government does not have the authority to force states to comply with this part of the law, and that the Court did not contest. Instead, in these places, the federal government simply runs the exchange.

The question before the court was if the federal government, by the text of the law, would be able to enforce subsidies themselves in this situation. As Dr. Marc Clauson reports,
"The issue in this case is whether the Act’s tax credits are available in States that have a Federal Exchange rather than a State Exchange. The Act initially provides that tax credits 'shall be allowed' for any 'applicable taxpayer.' 26 U. S. C. §36B(a). The Act then provides that the amount of the tax credit depends in part on whether the taxpayer has enrolled in an insurance plan through 'an Exchange established by the State under section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.'" 

It would seem rather problematic for the law that can be stifled by a state who does not want to set up an exchange. In that situation, there seems to be no reason to assume that the subsidy program of Affordable Care Act can apply, unless you take the meaning of state to mean government, rather than one of the 50 states.

Which I suppose is possible, but making that clarification of a vague law is hardly the role of the Supreme Court. Clarifying the law in this way is the spot of the legislative branch itself. Allowing the Court to do this is an open door for them "clarifying" many laws now and in the future.

But the clarification even now still doesn't make a whole lot of sense. As Dr. Clauson wrote,
"The Court apparently wanted to save Obamacare.  So it said essentially that the term “state” the language above meant either a state or the Federal government.  This meant that it had to interpret the word state as “the state,” some government, any government, to get to the point of including the Federal government.  Roberts seemed to realize this, since he said it was not a natural interpretation.  But that didn’t stop him or the majority."
Thus, the Court saves Obamacare instead of letting it go through the normal legislative procedures. And you know, that is a scary precedent to set.

So, from the standpoint of the Court doing what it's supposed to do, it was a pretty bad week in both of these cases as both represent overreach.

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