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Congress Shall Make No Law Abridging
by Richard Tornello
Consider that we as writers, lyricists and artists are performing to a global audience. Then consider that what we are supposed to have here in the U.S. is a bit different from the constitutions throughout the planet. We are guaranteed certain freedoms as inalienable:
Freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, assembly, trial by our peers, and so forth.
Then let’s take a look at what we see world wide and here in this country too as Sci-Fi writers while peering into a possible future, taking the current facts, science, historical trends, and what-not, put them into the blender to see what cooks up, good bad and otherwise.
If you want to make the fiction closer to reality, add a dystopian analysis regarding the diminution of those rights and the increased incarceration and persecution of writers, artists and the press here and everywhere else.
Then then one could add into the mix the increased intolerance engendered by state based and mythological based fear of what we have to say and how for example, it's been expanded especially in the "freedom of religion".
The founders of this country believed in freedom of religion as in the personal practice or non-practice as it might be, Amendment 1. The fact that it's been expanded now to give weight to organizations and corporations as people that take state money and then use the rubric "Freedom of Religion” to enforce their organized rules upon the many from the few, while at the same time corrupting the very constitution from which they derive their very freedoms.
We too have book burnings. We have Texas, the state that almost dictates what gets written in school textbooks while changing history, and giving short shrift to science, to give two examples that could be documented if I weren’t so lazy. I would classify that as a kind of book burning or fact burning, if you will.
We as a group, write. We say things that are uncomfortable. As Sci-fi writer we do more than make up fantasy stories, we suggest possible out comes, we question the world in a philosophical manner using the language of science and history as our backdrop, our foundation to project, to propose, and to suppose .
What we have to say isn’t always nice. For example, we may propose the non- existence of a god. You’re going to die in some countries for making that statement. And if some had their way in this country, they would use the constitution to blackball our books, movies and in extreme cases, eliminate or silence us. That too has been documented.
WE are dealing with a global audience and we are lucky that we still have a Bill of Rights that allows us to question and twist the nose of bigots, idiots, false prophets and yes otherwise people too. We can’t go to jail for ridiculing our leaders or other leaders in foreign countries… yet.
See where that takes you.
People don’t usually remember it this way, but on Dec. 13, 2000, Vice President Al Gore gave one of the most important speeches in American history. Mr. Gore had contested the initial results of the Florida vote count and prevailed in the Florida state courts, but the Supreme Court had voted, 5-to-4, the day before to end the recount and effectively hand the presidency to George W. Bush.
“Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken,” Mr. Gore said. “Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it.” The frenzied battle over a few hundred votes had spawned intense anger across the country — but it had been resolved “as it must be resolved, through the honored institutions of our democracy.”
Mr. Gore’s concession that night still stands as the most powerful reaffirmation in modern times of the Supreme Court’s unique and fragile role in the American system of government. Millions of people were furious at the justices’ decision in Bush v. Gore — many believed it was the result not of legal reasoning but of rank partisanship — and yet virtually everyone followed Mr. Gore’s selfless lead, accepted the court as the final arbiter of the dispute, and moved on. There were no riots in the streets, no attempted coups, no “Second Amendment solutions.” There was, instead, a peaceful transfer of power: the hallmark of a civil society operating under the rule of law.
Sixteen years later, the Supreme Court sits crippled, unable to resolve the most pressing legal questions facing the country. Two events — the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February and the unprecedented refusal of Senate Republicans to even consider President Obama’s pick to fill the vacant seat — have converged to throw the court’s future as a functioning institution into doubt.
This scenario would have seemed unimaginable a year ago. But Tuesday’s vote — for president and for control of the Senate — will determine whether the court remains short-handed for months or, as Republicans are now threatening if they hold the Senate, for years.
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Anne-Marie Hislop 4 minutes ago
Sorry? Independent body? You just enumerated the elements of the GOP platform as what we get in the court, if the GOP controls appointments;...
Don Shipp, 9 minutes ago
Failing to vote on a Supreme Court nominee is nothing more than "election nullification" on the part of the Republican Party. It's a...
Bill Courson 9 minutes ago
Remove the testing prerogative of the Court and you take the first step on the path away from democracy and toward demagoguery and despotism...
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Last month, Senator Richard Burr, of North Carolina, told supporters that if Hillary Clinton wins, “I am going to do everything I can do to make sure four years from now, we still got an opening on the Supreme Court.” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas suggested he was happy with the current situation, and said, “There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices.” Even Senator John McCain, who once joined with Democrats in an effort to depoliticize the judicial nomination process, recently told a radio show, “I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.”
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Step back for a moment and consider the radical absurdity of this position. Senate Republicans first justified their refusal to hold hearings or a vote on Mr. Obama’s nominee before the presidential election because “the people’s voice” needed to be heard. That was always a transparent lie. Now, apparently believing their candidate, Donald Trump, will lose, they are acting as though the Supreme Court is the property of the Republican Party.
This mind-set isn’t just a matter of a few senators going rogue. Leading conservative groups are embracing the argument, happy to destroy a principle of American politics — to privilege partisanship over the Constitution itself. Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow at the influential Cato Institute, wrote two weeks ago that “it would be completely decent, honorable, and in keeping with the Senate’s constitutional duty to vote against essentially every judicial nominee” a President Clinton would name. Last Thursday, the vice president of Heritage Action for America, a top conservative think tank, said Senators McCain, Burr and Cruz were taking “exactly the right position,” and that an effective, long-term blockade of the court will require “an immense amount of willpower” from Senate Republicans.
A small number of Republican senators have expressed discomfort with this idea, but when was the last time public interest won out in today’s Republican Party?
The indefinite blockade not only hobbles the justices’ ability to resolve current cases, it takes open aim at the court’s legitimacy as the sole unelected branch of government. Because the court “has no influence over either the sword or the purse,” as Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, its legitimacy and authority depend entirely on the shared public acceptance of its verdicts.
Today’s Republicans are essentially saying the court is nothing but another political body, and that justices should be treated as ideological sock puppets of the president who nominated them. Yes, the justices come with political beliefs and backgrounds, but that makes it all the more important to demand that they work harder than the rest of us to struggle against their biases and preserve their independence. This is why, for instance, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was wrong to comment on Mr. Trump’s candidacy — words for which she later apologized.
Until this year, no one disputed that the president should have wide latitude in picking justices. In 1993, Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly in favor of Justice Ginsburg, President Bill Clinton’s first nominee. And even though they voted in large numbers against Mr. Obama’s first two nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, they did not try to block those nominations from going forward. Senate Democrats voted unanimously to confirm Ronald Reagan’s choice of Justice Scalia in 1986 and allowed full votes on Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, both of whom they strongly opposed.
In 2016, Republicans have blown this delicate balance to pieces, all to keep a conservative majority. Of course, the court has had a majority of Republican-appointed justices for nearly half a century, through the normal processes of advice and consent. But now, Republicans want to maintain that majority, even if that means tossing out all political norms. This majority, they hope, would promote a worldview where fewer people have rights, where women do not have reproductive choices, where lawmakers can make it harder for minorities to vote, where religious people are free to disregard laws protecting people they don’t like. Such a court could use a severe interpretation of the Constitution to ensure that American politics can be flooded with unlimited money, that reasonable gun restrictions are struck down, that corporate interests prevail over those of consumers, and that basic environmental regulations are turned back.
Make no mistake: That is the court Americans would get under a President Trump. Still, Senate Democrats would have an obligation to consider and vote on his nominees, just as Republicans would have that obligation to Mrs. Clinton’s choices. No doubt, there would be Democratic voices demanding that their senators mimic the Republicans’ shameful example. But the Constitution asks more of all of us than that. In the next Congress, regardless of who wins on Tuesday, the very survival of the court as an independent body will be at stake.
Dealing with people and groups as you mentioned, some of which I thing are total idiots, is the role of the government to promote the freedoms here by mentioned.
A republic is predicated upon an educated electorate. Need I say more?
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