When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly on Feb. 13, 2016, it sparked a standoff between Democrats and Republicans that rivaled that of the OK Corral. Senate Republicans refused to confirm a replacement on the grounds that President Barack Obama was a lame duck president and that the new president should choose a successor. Obama famously responded by saying, “Presidents do not stop working in the final year of their term; neither should a senator,” and nominated Merrick Garland a month after Scalia passed.
Garland is a moderate by general consensus, but it wasn’t enough to convince Republicans to make the judiciary work on behalf of Americans. You can find how an empty seat has affected cases since by following this link. Basically, there were two ties that adversely affected working immigrants and unions.
Here we are over a year later with the Republicans getting exactly what they wanted: Neil Gorsuch, a consensus conservative judge, breaking the tie on a church-state case.
The separation of church and state is long-standing, federal law. Tax dollars are not spent in support of religions, but the federal government won’t stop you from raising money as a church – going as far as to make churches exempt from paying income taxes. A church can even donate money to super PACs that aren’t supporting a specific candidate, but no one is really enforcing this, with the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission calling their organization “more than dysfunctional” and saying the likelihood that the laws being enforced is “slim.” Donald Trump would like to make churches the new super PACs, according to The Atlantic. That opportunity has arrived in the form of the church-state case Trinity Lutheran v. Comer.
Trinity Lutheran is a church-run preschool that applied for a state grant to fund a playground upgrade for safety reasons. They want to put that forgiving material made out of old tires in the playground so kids don’t end up with brain injuries, etc. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do. You can see what they currently have in the playground just by visiting the website, and it’s pretty terrible. But the state in which Trinity Lutheran operates, Missouri, has a state constitution clause that forbids tax dollars from going to churches, which is also perfectly reasonable. The latest decision upheld Missouri’s state constitution. The church must raise its own money to upgrade the playground. They are a private school after all, and if they actually took advantage of all this media attention, they’d probably be funded for the entire year already.
The case could be thrown out entirely because the Supreme Court put off scheduling the case because of the empty seat, and since, Missouri’s Democratic attorney general lost an election and was replaced with a Republican, who announced he will change the state’s policy and allow churches to receive grant money from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Then there’s no case, right? Attorney Irv Gonzalez of the Know Your Rights talk show thinks so.
“If they change the policy then I think they should not hear the case … If he changes the law today, then there’s really no issue,” he said.
Not so fast. That change to the state’s policy wouldn’t be permanent. It would be subject to change every time there’s a new attorney general. If the Supreme Court rules, though, it would become permanent nationwide. You see why these nine judges are so important and why having just eight is a real problem? Just look back at the FEC’s six chair people and how ineffective that has been. Those people can’t even talk to each other.
So, here we are at a crossroads, with a ninth and final traveller determining which path America takes for the foreseeable future. Does the consensus conservative Gorsuch side with state’s rights or religion? Everything points to religion. Furthermore, the hundred or so federal judges Donald Trump has or will appoint and another 70 that will likely retire during Trump’s first term will make sure more church-state cases are heard by the conservative Supreme Court. Gonzalez doesn’t foresee sweeping changes to church-state precedent, though. Unless, of course, 84-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passes away in the next four years.
Americans need to realize that Republicans didn’t just hijack the Supreme Court, but they hijacked nearly 200 more courts at other levels throughout the country. President Obama made 54 federal nominations to the 112 empty seats that Senate Republicans refused to confirm. Winning the White House was imperative for the power play to work, but Trump slapped the puck through the Democrats’ five hole – Hillary Clinton – with perhaps an assist or two from the Russians, who say they’re going to the Olympics regardless of what NHL owners declare. With a Republican-led executive, legislative and judiciary branches, what’s next?
Churches will be allowed to donate directly to political officials, whom, of course, will be members of the religious right. Freedom of religion will infringe upon free elections, and religions and corporations will battle together to elect politicians who put more money in the pockets of priests and CEOs. Everyday Americans will continue to suffer, but it won’t seem like it as long as they have their precious devices, television and internet access. Whether their use of those devices is monitored and sold to advertisers matters little to them. Fewer and fewer people will vote, because why waste an hour every two years when both candidates are working against you? Believe it or not, your vote means more now than ever. Use it.
Editor's Note: An update follows.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, Know Your Rights
Alex Jones says a lot of controversial things. Some people call him a fringe lunatic. Some people call him a prophetic patriot. When I see him plastered all over the internet I am not surprised because, well, he says a lot of controversial things.
He is currently receiving wall-to-wall internet coverage about his brand new controversial topic. I am skeptical. I mean, will it be as controversial as Jones claiming the Sandy Hook Massacre is fake? (It’s not). How about as controversial as his claim that the Orlando Nightclub shooting was a false flag attack? (It isn’t). I don’t know, but I hope it’s as controversial as Jones’s claim that Hillary Clinton operated a pedophile ring out of a Pizzeria in a conspiracy so dumb I won’t even bother linking! (Jones apologized and recanted).
No, my friend. It will be far more controversial than all of those combined. And I know this because it’s all over the media. With media coverage this broad, Mr. Jones must have some huge controversial issue brewing! So what is it? Why is the media all up in Alex Jones’s grill?
Because Alex Jones is in a custody battle.
With his ex wife.
I know! What am I supposed to do? I work at GCN. Alex Jones is on our network. I don’t want to write about Alex Jones’s custody battle because his custody battle is pretty much none of my GD business. The only people who should be worried about Jones's custody battle are:
Kelly Jones (ex wife).
Maybe some family and friends but that’s it. That’s the complete list of people who should care. But here we are. And I have to waste my day writing about Alex Jones’s personal business because media vultures love to swoop in for the kill. Especially when “the kill” is mud-slinging non-news like a custody battle!
I see what you’re talking about now. Alex Jones does indeed oft claim mainstream media is all “fake news.” I can see how that might stick in folk’s craw, what with that hypocrisy and all.
Okay. Now I see why the coverage is twenty four seven. Alex Jones claims all other news is fake and then admits that his show over at Infowars.com (and here on GCN) is performance art -- which, I gather, is a clever way of saying “fake.” That’s newsworthy. If this is the first time Alex Jones has admitted to something like this. I can understand the coverage.
Except, of course, for the fact that Alex Jones has called himself a performance artist many, many times. Without any coverage. At all. Unless you count mine. That I wrote two weeks ago. In which I cite Alex Jones calling his very own work “performance art.”
Alex Jones says, multiple times, on his show that he is a “performance artist.” Zero coverage.
Alex Jones’s lawyer says in court that Mr. Jones is a “performance artist” + custody battle = huge coverage.
I don’t work with him! Stop saying that! Alex Jones has a radio show on the network that I work for. I’ve never even met the guy! And I don’t have to “defend him.” He’s a radio personality. He says a lot of crazy things. As loud as possible. On purpose. For effect. He does it seven days a week. For twenty years. He is bound to get some things right. He is bound to get some things wrong. He is bound to say controversial things. Some of them will turn out to be silly and harmless. Some of them will turn out to be tragic and dangerous.
But I don’t have to defend him. The Constitution of the United States does a much better job of defending him then I ever could. I’ll even go so far as to tell you I disagree with about seventy-five percent of what I hear Alex Jones say. And I will still roll my eyes in your general direction if you claim I am defending him because I “work with him.” I’m not doing it. He doesn’t need it.
Well, no. I’m not going to write about his custody battle. "Former married couple goes through bitter divorce and says horrible things about each other" is not news.
So then let me get back to his claim about performance art. I see the easy way out. Alex Jones will claim, “What I say is truthful but HOW I say it is performance art.” Which gives him carte blanche to say whatever he wants and kind of, you know, avoid responsibility.
Okay. Fair enough. He’s not the first person to hide behind the Constitution. He won’t be the last. The Constitution does indeed give him the right to say just about whatever he wants. It doesn’t, however, protect one from consequences.
Take Len Pozner. Len’s only son, Noah, was murdered in the Sandy Hook Massacre. Len has been dogged and harassed by “Truthers.” Truthers, as defined by the totally legit dictionary:
Truther [trooth-ER] noun. Plural: morons.
A soulless ghoul.
A dimwitted slug.
Weak willed sheep.
Someone who believes mass shooting massacres, such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School, are staged events by the federal government in order to frighten the population into surrendering their weapons. The victims and their families, truthers believe, are “crisis actors,” people hired by the government to pretend to be bereaved.
I hate that in the world we live in this exists.
Len Pozner has been harassed by truthers for years. In 2015 a woman went to jail for sending Mr. Pozner threatening messages. I’m sure other Sandy Hook family survivors have similar stories. And, yes, Alex Jones and similar fringe alt-right pundits are partially to blame.
And I will only say, “partially.” A person unstable enough to cross state lines and send death threats to someone they think is a “crisis actor,” also shares a hell of a lot of the responsibility. So while I honestly believe Mr. Jones has the Constitutional right to say Sandy Hook, in his opinion, was staged. It’s still a shitty thing to say.
And there have been consequences. And it looks like they happened to the wrong people. Len Pozner does not deserve to have idiots crawling through his lawn looking for proof of “his crisis acting involvement,” or digging through his garbage hoping beyond hope to find the “smoking gun” that doesn’t exist. He certainly doesn’t deserve to be taunted or threatened.
He deserves to be left alone. His child was murdered. It wasn’t fake. There is no such thing as a crisis actor. And if you believe Sandy Hook was a hoax then you’re an asshole.
And I still don’t care about Alex Jones’s custody battle.
If you like this you might like the GCNlive talk show: The Alex Jones Show.