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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Insuring political gain

So much for Scott Brown's move to the center.

The Bay State's junior senator has become a full-fledged culture warrior, opting on to legislation that would strip people of long-established rights in the name of "moral" objections by that favorite Mitt Romney person, the corporation.

Republicans who see a rocky path to the White House are stirring up the culture wars again, not only taking aim at the established precedent of Roe v. Wade, but sliding even farther backwards and looking at Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 Supreme Court decision that established our right to privacy and struck down a state law banning contraception.

Apparently Brown thinks it's moral to deny someone their personal right to privacy because of someone else's religion.

The legislation filed by Missouri Sen. Roy Blount is the latest assault on individual rights in the name of corporate personhood. It would allow employers and insurers to limit specific health care coverage, including contraception, based on religious or moral objections.

Brown, locked in a tight race with Democrat Elizabeth Warren, chooses to frame the issue as one of religious freedom, ignoring the fact that one person's "freedom" is another person's tyranny and favoring one religion's tenets over another violates a First Amendment's definition of freedom.
"No one should be forced by government to do something that violates the teachings of their faith.’’
I'd rather frame it as no one should be denied the right to privacy because of something that is based on the teachings of one faith over those of others.

Political pundits are, well, blunt, about the reasons for backing the Blunt bill. Says Tuft University political science professor Jeffrey Berry, it's all about votes, particularly those of conservatives who haven't already abandoned the Democratic Party:
“He cannot win this election unless he draws some Democrats. There simply aren’t enough Republicans in Massachusetts.’’
That political calculus is backed up by C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts and a lapsed Democrat:
“The principle is people should not be forced to violate their conscience as a condition of providing health insurance to their employees. There is a remnant of socially conservative pro-life Democrats and a larger remnant of former Democrats like myself who would view such a vote favorably.”
The essence of this argument is that corporations are people who have consciences that trump individual rights to privacy. It does not argue that people who object to the policy can opt out. Rather it demands that people without objections be denied an established right to privacy based on corporate "beliefs."

By that argument Citizens United, which declared corporations are citizens for free speech purposes, should actually bar corporate political donations that override individual employee beliefs.

As for Brown, he frames the issue as another example of "elitism" by Elizabeth Warren. But the junior senator is the one guilty of elitism if he opts to favors one religion or belief over that of the many others that define this nation.

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Blogger jlglex said...

Liberals contend that banning homosexual marriage (and other social conservative legislative goals) are a violation of the establishment clause ... to which I say ... BUNK.

The establishment clause does not prevent legislative bodies from voluntarily enacting laws that reflect certain religious values. If it did, then laws against murder and perjury would also be unconstitutional.

Laws against murder come straight from religion, more specifically the ten commandments. Prior to the advent of the 10 commandments, there was no moral authority that prevented murder, and many human communities reflected that lack of moral fiber. Practices like cannibalism and virgin sacrifice were quite the norm in such societies.

Laws against perjury also come from the 10 commandments, but I don't hear anyone objecting to those laws using the establishment clause. Indeed, laws against murder and perjury have been widely accepted in this country since its founding; and I would venture a guess that they have never been challenged on First Amendment grounds.

The claim that the establishment clause prevents any U.S. legislative body from banning homosexuality, homosexual marriage, or abortion is simply off-base. And, any court that uses such reasoning to overrule such laws is guilty of "legislating from the bench."

The real purposes of the establishment clause are twofold. First, it prevents the government from endorsing a single religious sect as the "official church" of the nation (or State). Second, it prevents the government from interfering with the free practice of religion with legislation - by, for example, banning the members of a particular sect from establishing their church.

February 15, 2012 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

"Prior to the advent of the 10 commandments, there was no moral authority that prevented murder..."

Absolutely incorrect. Cultures before Jesus walked the Earth had laws that prohibited murder and were punished just as severally. Just doing a simple search on Google for the early civilizations in the Middle East show that each one of them had laws against murder.

The same goes for perjury. In Babylonia, it was punishable by death.

I don't know a single Liberal who invokes the establishment clause for equal rights. If anything, I hear people say it is in the Declaration of Independence ("All men are created Equal") and the preamble to the Constitution. It also goes to the civil rights laws that were passed.

Gay marriage is not a social conservative goal. If anything it is the conservatives who want to return this country back to the 18th century.

February 20, 2012 2:48 PM  

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