March 30th, 2019
Alleged Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil “Son of Anne” Gorsuch is one of four members of the court who are pretty much indistinguishable from one another. The other three are Clarence “Slappy” Thomas, Samuel “Little Scalia” Alito, and Brett “Hold My Beer” Kavanaugh. They are all members of the Federalist Society, breeding ground for right-wing lice and essentially just the John Birch Society with a makeover and more money. All four are corporatists, authoritarians, and, typically of authoritarians, profess strong religious beliefs.
Of course, authoritarians always stand foursquare for religious supremacy, since there’s nothing like religion to compel obedience from the masses. The entire GOP is hag-ridden with toy despots who love to chant “God is with us” (“Got Mitt Uns”) and disparage the rest of America as socialist atheist Moslem Jews.
Like most of his ilk, Gorsuch regards ‘separation of church and state’ to be a doctrinal error forced upon Americans by a liberal elite.
In the infamous Hobby Lobby case, which ruled employers were free to cheat their employees out of birth control, even when offered at no cost to the employer, Gorsuch said it, “was not, is not, the place of courts of law to question the correctness or the consistency of tenets of religious faith, only to protect the exercise of faith.” It stands as a really excellent reason why employers should have no say in employee health care—at all. Who wants to have their life ruined by a treatable condition just because the boss is a religious nut? That’s basically what the ruling permits.
Gorsuch once wrote in a decision, “[A]ll human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.” Note the use of the word ‘private’. The state must always be allowed to kill at will. It’s the Dominionist theology in a nutshell; it’s not piety that drives them; it’s authoritarianism.
Only Gorsuch knows if he subscribes to Dominionist philosophy or not. Dominionists believe that the United States is subservient to the will of god, and that Holy Writ supercedes secular law. Gorsuch has made it clear he believes in freedom of religion, in that religion is free to avail itself of public assets and impose its will on others, and he is absolutely silent on the doctrine of freedom from religion, the right not to be subject to church doctrine and church costs.
There’s a pair of cases pending before the court right now, American Legion v. American Humanist Association and Maryland–National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association.
The subject of the case is the Peace Cross, a forty-foot tall granite cross that sits on a small patch of land in Bladensburg, Maryland at the crux (no pun intended—OK, I lied, it was intentional) of a three way major intersection in the town. The cross was erected between 1919 and 1925 (six years to do what the Romans could do in six minutes) on what then was private land. While the monument was purportedly to honor the 49 residents of Bladensburg who died in the Great War, the purpose was unabashedly religious. Donors were required to sign a card before even being allowed to donate that read, “WE, THE CITIZENS OF MARYLAND, TRUSTING IN GOD, THE SUPREME RULER OF THE UNIVERSE, PLEDGE FAITH IN OUR BROTHERS WHO GAVE THEIR ALL IN THE WORLD WAR TO MAKE THE WORLD SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY. THEIR MORTAL BODIES HAVE TURNED TO DUST, BUT THEIR SPIRIT LIVES TO GUIDE US THROUGH LIFE IN THE WAY OF GODLINESS, JUSTICE, AND LIBERTY. WITH OUR MOTTO, ‘ONE GOD, ONE COUNTRY AND ONE FLAG,’ WE CONTRIBUTE TO THIS MEMORIAL CROSS COMMEMORATING THE MEMORY OF THOSE WHO HAVE NOT DIED IN VAIN.” Yes, all upper case. Religionists do like to shout.
There must not have been enough religious louts floating around at the time because in 1922 the project ran out of both money and Christians, and the American Legion took it over. The Legionnaires had a lot of fun with their new toy, holding many religious services (all Christian, of course) and patriotic hootenannies on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day and the like.
But along about 1961, the city elders looked at that big old top heavy stone cross that sat in the middle of a heavily-trafficked intersection with vehicles running around the cross in a tight circle. Possibly, they reflected that it was erected on behalf of a deity with a long and colorful history of arbitrarily smiting people, and it being an era when government actually looked out for the welfare of the citizenry, decided it might be wise to prevent a sudden gust of wind from dispatching some of the town’s good Christian folk to whatever reward they had coming. So they bought the land from the Legionnaires (records don’t indicate the Legion was particularly upset about this) and started doing maintenance. The new owners, the Appellee Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, are a state agency and they have spent a cool $217,000 in tax dollars on that cross since 1961.
Right wingers like to howl that the suits exist only because the plaintiffs were “offended” and unfortunately, that idiotic argument does appear in the court filings. But in reality, and the reason it’s in front of the Supreme Court Biblebangers is because this unabashedly Christian icon is being maintained on the public dime.
Gorsuch has argued that nobody can sue on behalf of separation of church and state unless they have Standing—some sort of direct involvement in which they can show demonstrable loss or impairment of their rights.
Something R. Muse at Daily Kos wrote, “Gorsuch did, in fact, claim that any plaintiffs who challenge government establishment and endorsement of one specific religion should be banned from suing the government to force it to uphold the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. According to Gorsuch, there is no situation that allows any American to have ‘legal standing to challenge’ a Christian religious display on government property; something that is in fact establishing religion. He claims that because ‘their only injury is that they take offense’ at the religious display on taxpayer’s land, in his theocratic mind being offended is not enough to demand the government abide by the law of the land – any more than expecting Christian conservative justices to support, uphold, and decide cases based on the Constitution.”
It seems likely that Gorsuch, along with the other Court godpounders, will ignore the fact that the public is being forced to maintain a Christian icon, but instead focus on whether the offended have any rights. I kinda hope he does. If he rules that religious folk have a right to offend, then I might take up a fundraiser to buy a piece of property facing a prominent church and erect an 80-foot tall bronze statue of a naked Satan, complete with bifulcerated penis with little snake heads on each tip. It would be great for tourism. If the court rules that churches can use public lands to offend, then I’ll start a crowdfund for a 600 foot wide plush Flying Spaghetti Monster to drape over Half Dome in Yosemite, that as hikers walk pasta, they may gaze on His Noodley Appendages and marvel at the wisdom of humanity.
Of course, there is a simple and elegant solution that could have prevented this case in the first place. Just have the Commission sell the land to a private buyer—a consortium of the local churches, a fast food chain, whatever. They assume all costs and responsibilities (including potential flattening of passers-by) and they can have all their little services and whatnot on their own dime.
You see, most people aren’t offended by displays that are religious in nature. If you put up a Nativity in your front yard, I might, at worst, shrug and ignore you. If I think you’re just trying to wind me up, I might respond with a tasteful tableau from a favorite movie, say by Tarantino or Cronenberg or maybe even Larry Flint. I got a holy right to offend too, you know.
But as noted, it’s unlikely this Court will rule from piety. They simply want to assert power, and the best way to do that is by asserting a right to control the rest of us. And there’s nothing like religion to compel obedience from the masses.