Over Reach

By

Leonard Zwelling

         At first blush, the decisions handed down by the Supreme
Court today, June 27, couldn’t appear more different.

         In one, the Court, by a 5 to 3 margin, overturned the Texas law
that was purported to protect women’s health, but, in fact, restricted access
to abortion and caused the closure of over half of the abortion clinics in the
state. In no way did this law, the one Wendy Davis filibustered, have anything
to do with protecting women’s health. It was a back door ploy to restrict
access to abortion promulgated mostly by Republican men who can only be
characterized as Neanderthal in thought, conniving in method, and brutal in
behavior. The Supremes agreed, basically saying that the law protected no one
and rather made life riskier for Texas women. The law was not needed and its
justification preposterous. Now, it’s gone, but so are many of the clinics and
it is unclear whether or not they will be back. The Philistines may have won
this one already despite the David who was Wendy battling the Goliath of
Republican members of the Texas Legislature. The Texas government over reached,
but it may well get away with it.

         Not so the federal prosecutors who took Virginia Governor
Bob McDonnell to court and won. That conviction was over ridden as too broad
and encompassing behavior that is common to politicians everywhere. This does
not exactly serve as a ringing endorsement of what the ex-Governor did in using
his office to help his friends, but it does serve to limit the criminality of
common quid pro quo politics and the
ability of the executive branch to lock up officials for doing what political officials
do. Again, a branch of government was guilty of over reach and the Supreme
Court corrected the error.

         That’s what the Supremes did surrounding the ACA as well
when it limited the Congress’ ability to penalize states for not incurring
great debt in expanding Medicaid. This was a major tenet for how the ACA was to
expand the reach of insurance to the uninsured in 2010. The Supreme said that
cutting off the federal part of Medicaid (about half of the cost) to the states
that didn’t expand the program to all of those under 138% of the federal
poverty level was overly punitive. Thus ended one of the major benefits of the
ACA to the poor. But the Supremes said this was congressional over reach and so
out it went.

         These decisions should serve as clear examples of why the
election of 2016 for President is so key. That ninth seat on the Supreme Court
would not have mattered in either of today’s decisions (Texas abortion was 5 to
3; McDonnell won 9-zip), but it is likely to matter in the future. If the major
focus of the Court is to limit the other branches of government when they over
reach, then the Court is essential to protect us all.

There
is no way to delete politics from the appointments to the Court. In the
decision today that was close (McDonnell won 9 to 0), it was Justice
Kennedy, a Republican appointee who made the difference as Thomas, Alito and
Roberts all sided with the Texas Legislature to some extent.

         I don’t like the choice I have for President any more than
many of you might, but Donald Trump is simply unacceptable as a human or as a
statesmen (and I use that term in the same sentence as Trump with grave
reservations).

         As I have said before, suck it up and vote Hillary. It’s not
that she is all that good a choice, but she’s a damned sight better than Trump.
Sometimes you just have to choose between vanilla and strawberry when they are
out of chocolate. In this case it’s between vanilla and hemlock.

Leonard Zwelling