Follow the money behind the Supreme Court ruling to divert funds from public schools for all Americans to religious schools for the privileged few
“The ultraconservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court continues to redefine the constitutional promise of religious freedom for all as religious privilege for a select few. The court is forcing taxpayers to fund religious education”, said Rachel Laser, the president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. – NY Times
Follow the money to see how:
- Billionaires pack the courts with their chosen candidates?
- Dark money conservative groups choose and groom lawyers to be appointed to the courts?
- How did the court get to be dominated by five conservative Catholic justices?
- How do religious political groups get tax-exempt status?
- Should parents be forced to fund religious schools that deny their children admission based on their gender or religion?
Follow the money
Trump order frees tax-exempt churches to be more politically active
“Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that allows tax-exempt churches to more actively participate in politics and could free religious organizations to deny employees insurance coverage for birth-control pills. Trump’s order directs the Internal Revenue Service to “alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment,” the White House said in reference to a 1954 law sponsored by Lyndon Johnson which prohibits organizations that enjoy tax-free status from participating in a political campaign or supporting any one candidate for elective office.” – Reuters
Republicans stack the courts
“The Court took a definite turn to the right, however, when President Ronald Reagan appointed William Rehnquist as chief justice and Antonin Scalia as an associate justice in 1986. It moved further right in 1991 when President George H. W. Bush appointed staunch conservative Clarence Thomas to replace a retiring liberal, Justice Thurgood Marshall, on the Court. Thus began a period when the Court handed down numerous 5-4 decisions, usually five conservatives to four liberals. Occasionally, Justice Anthony Kennedy – a Reagan appointee and sometimes swing vote – would join the liberals to deny the conservatives their way. It was this alignment, five conservatives to four liberals with the possibility of a swing vote, that kept some balance in the Court.
McConnell’s Plan: Stack the Courts and Legislate From the Bench
“McConnell knows that the GOP is destined to become a minority party in the coming years. If they maintain their slight majority in the Senate, they have the power to obstruct anything a Democratic president tries to accomplish. Even if they lose their majority, they can still obstruct as long as the filibuster rules remain in place Ultimately, minorities and majorities are meaningless if McConnell can stack the federal courts with extremist judges and use them to bypass both congress and the president. That is precisely why he had that little smirk on his face when responding to the question about whether the Senate would confirm a Trump-nominated Supreme Court nominee in 2020.” – Washington Monthly
Billionaires damaging democracy
That didn’t stop the conservatives, however, from handing down two democracy-damaging rulings. **First, there was Citizens United v. FEC in 2010 that opened the floodgates of money in politics, followed by Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 that crippled the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and freed racist-inclined Republican-controlled legislatures to significantly restrict minority voting rights.”**
“If people actually believe that it’s all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?” I would argue that a politicized Supreme Court also threatens the survival of our democratic republic?”, asked Justice Sotomayor.
Earlier this year, Texas enacted SB 8, a law that bans abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy and enables citizens – some say vigilantes – to enforce it with private lawsuits. Since this law was first challenged in August, the conservative justices, with the exception of Roberts, have allowed this very strict abortion law to remain in effect even though it’s clearly unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. To me, this is a strong indication that at least five conservative justices intend to overturn Roe and legitimatize Texas’ SB 8.
But here’s the thing. Constitutional protections and other prior Court precedents could be effectively nullified by state laws that are enforced by private citizen lawsuits. States could even empower right-wing plaintiffs to bring a torrent of spurious libel lawsuits against mainstream media organizations, which would severely restrict freedom of the press. The damage the conservative justices could to our democratic republic is totally frightening. – From The Center
Catholic dominated Supreme Court
“Six justices — John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — are Catholic. Thus, the court will consist of six Catholics, two Protestants, and one Jew. Neil Gorsuch is Episcopalian but was raised Catholic. This is not reflective of the U.S. population where 22% of the adult population identifies as Catholic, as opposed to the 67% Catholic representation on the court. About 45% of Americans are non-Catholic Christian, or Protestant, compared with what will be 22% Protestant representation on the court.” – Gallup
One of the schools at issue in the case, Temple Academy in Waterville, Maine, says it expects its teachers “to integrate biblical principles with their teaching in every subject” and teaches students “to spread the word of Christianity.” The other, Bangor Christian Schools, says it seeks to develop “within each student a Christian worldview and Christian philosophy of life. In his dissent, Justice Breyer wrote that both schools “have admissions policies that allow them to deny enrollment to students based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and religion, and both schools require their teachers to be born-again Christians.” – NY Times
TakeAway: Elections matter. Vote for candidates who will support public education, not divert money to religious schools to pander to their billionaire donors.
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