Alabama went ahead and executed a convicted murderer last night. Whatever you think and however you feel about the death penalty, I cannot understand how or why the Supreme Court, specifically five Catholic males on the Court, denied the man on death row his right to a spiritual counselor as he faced execution. Alabama allows a Christian chaplain to be present during executions, and a federal appeals court put a stay on this execution to look further into the likely violation of the prisoner’s First Amendment religious exercise rights. If Alabama denied religious counseling of any kind in the death chamber, that would be wrong, vicious, uncivilized, and barbaric–but not religious discrimination. That’s not the situation here.
Several conservative commentators, to their credit, objected to the Supreme Court’s decision to overrule the appeals court’s stay of execution. But John Roberts, what were you thinking? Elena Kagan’s dissent called you out for your willful abandonment of the “clearest command of the Establishment Clause,” which is that “one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.” And you other crusading justices, Alito, and Thomas, and Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh? Were you raised by wolves? Where are your manners? Are you utterly unaware of the history of anti-Catholic discrimination and bigotry in the United States? Not to mention the legal history of Great Britain? And the many high horses you yourselves have ridden re “religious liberty”? Do you really want to go down in flames by claiming that the prisoner failed to make his request in a timely way? Really? His request to have his imam present–which was completely consistent with Alabama law allowing for a spiritual counselor of one’s choice–was denied on January 23, and he appealed on January 28. Five days is barely enough for some of you to clear your throats, you whited sepulchral deniers of fairness and justice and religious freedom. You should truly be ashamed and repent while you still have time.
As if it wasn’t enough for ruling-class warrior Neil Gorsuch to gut the National Labor Relations Act by placing the supposed intent of the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act over and above the New Deal legislation that addressed obvious asymmetries of bargaining power, Justice Gorsuch spiked the football on workers today in his 5-4 opinion by including a footnote, in Middle English no less, upholding the 1351 Statute of Laborers Act. Let me explain. After the Black Death (part one of it, at any rate) the ruling classes had far less bargaining power over the surviving peasants. All pretense of “voluntary mutual agreements” was abandoned by the ruling class when Parliament passed the 1351 law stipulating that workers were not allowed to leave their employers (the landowners or business owners) to seek better wages. Neil Gorsuch follows up in his pre-Chaucer footnote when he states (I hereby translate his words into 21st-century idiom) that “all that free market stuff was just a smokescreen, suckers. Serfs gonna stay serfs, cuz you can’t possibly afford to go to court one by one. Ain’t gonna happen. Sit yourselves down or we’ll put you in the private prison and you’ll dream of the good times when you could eat generic hamburger helper. Same as it was in 1351, same as it’s gonna be from here on out. Get Congress to change it, bwahahaha.”
Judge Neil Gorsuch is technically correct to say this afternoon that we do not live in Caligula’s world. Bad news is that we live in the Emperor Elagabulus’s world. You can look it up.
Will any Congressional Republicans pull themselves away from celebrating the nomination of Neil Gorsuch and take note of President Trump’s easing/”I am not easing” of sanctions on Russian intelligence agencies?
If somebody offered me 19 or 19.5 percent of the Russian petrostate and sent it to a Cayman Islands shell company, I might be tempted to do something nice for them. Is that what is happening here? Did President Trump acknowledge it by speaking of finding a “pretext” for lifting sanctions? Hard to be at all sure, but it’s not a question I expected to need to ask.