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Heretic on the Hill: Religion Is The Opiate Of The Supreme Court

In March the White House presented its proposed $773 billion for defense in 2023, a four percent increase. The top Senate Republican on defense spending immediately stated that the budget “woefully” underfunded defense given the state of the world and the effects of inflation and said “That budget will go nowhere as is.” We could certainly debate the size of the military budget, but what will happen is that sometime later in the year the Republicans will propose their higher total request for defense spending, and then there will be negotiations, and both sides will compromise somewhere in the middle. That’s how a lot of things get decided in Congress. But you really can’t do that when the issue is abortion. No one sees any middle ground.


On Wednesday the Senate failed to get a majority for a bill that would codify Roe v. Wade into law. You can read SCA’s letter to every Senator here. It would have taken 60 votes to break the Republican filibuster and the Democrats didn’t come close; there’s just no middle ground. 


Nearly fifty years ago the Supreme Court decided abortion would be legal until (I’m simplifying) the beginning of the third trimester. This has never seemed like a compromise to abortion opponents. Who, by the way, have less self interest when they lobby Congress than just about any other group. For them it’s literally life or death for the babies, and there’s nothing in between. 


Now, after a concerted effort to put anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court, that Court decision is about to be overturned. Every indication is that the leaked opinion will be very close to the final one. In the next month or so Roe v. Wade will be overturned and the issue will become a question for the states. 


Those anti-abortion justices never came out and said it in their confirmation hearings of course, but they weren’t getting nominated by Republican presidents if it wasn’t clear where they stood on abortion based on their prior decisions and writings. The Alito opinion begins and ends talking about morality. It’s clear where the morality comes from: religion. His religion and that of the four justices who joined the opinion. 


The opinion says, “There is ample evidence that the passage of [anti-abortion] laws was spurred by a sincere belief that abortion kills a human being.” Exactly! A belief. A Christian belief that life begins at conception. Not at a heartbeat, or at detectable movement, or at birth. Other religions differ in their beliefs. But they are not in the majority on the Supreme Court. If the Court were more secular the outcome would be far different. Eighty-two percent of the religiously unaffiliated believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases. 


Talmudic scholar is not on my resume so I’m going to quote the National Council of Jewish Women here: in Judaism, “The fetus is not viewed as separate from the parent’s body until birth begins and the first breath of oxygen into the lungs allows the soul to enter the body.” The religious beliefs of the current Supreme Court are determining reproductive rights. What will happen when a Jewish woman in a state that bans abortion goes to court because her sincerely held religious beliefs about abortion have been violated? That will be very interesting. 

In the meantime, vote. Your state legislators are about to gain a whole new responsibility. And if you haven’t already, let your legislators in Washington know where you stand through our Action Center.


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