CSotD: While Democracy Slept (Part Two)

Marc Murphy gets the lead-off position today because we are both Domers, graduates of the University of Notre Dame.

As Gibbon said of his own alma mater, “she will as cheerfully renounce me for a son, as I am willing to disclaim her for a mother,” but not only am I willing to claim Murphy as a fellow alum, but also political cartoonist Pat Byrnes and that wonderfully outspoken state senator from Michigan, Mallory McMorrow.

Not so gladly do I acknowledge Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett.


In her magnificent speech about honesty, dignity and fairness, McMorrow cited Theodore Hesburgh, and I was surprised that someone so young (Class of ’08) had warm memories of the man who, in my day (Class of ’71), concelebrated masses for peace, marched arm-in-arm with Martin Luther King, and took flak for adding a Black homosexual socialist to our board of trustees.

And, most relevant at the moment, invited NY Governor Mario Cuomo to give a speech in 1984 on the topic of “Religious Belief and Public Morality,” in which he said

Well, that was then and this is now. Hesburgh is dead and Barrett seems more attuned to the university in its current state as an anchor on the right edge of the political spectrum.



Which may explain why Roman Catholics make up 20% of the American public but 67% of the Supreme Court. As Steve Benson points out, we are on the verge of establishing a theocracy in which religious values are protected as “Freedom” under an Orwellian, not Cuomoesque, definition.


Definitions being, as Bill Bramhall points out, more important the more our leaders swerve from the dictionary into their own self-established values systems.

We have the freedom to agree with them, and they’re good Americans, so what more do you want?


Gary Markstein (Creators) notes that the Court does not allow itself to be buffeted by the winds of public opinion, which I suppose is a good thing, given that Plessy v Ferguson was also an established precedent and it’s probably good we didn’t put that up for a public vote, given who was allowed to vote in 1954 when the Court overturned it.


Still, they are swimming against a strong current on this one, and it is also well worth noting that overturning Plessy provided rights rather than taking them away.

Taking away rights is a rare event in this country and one which has never yet turned out well.

Which suggests — this recovering Catholic says — that, if you’re going to try defying public opinion and human nature, you may find allies in a church that stands against not just abortion but birth control and divorce and homosexuality and masturbation.

Each of which will inevitably continue with or without permission from the authorities, but with unnecessary guilt. And, in the case of abortion, unnecessary deaths.

Now let me be clear: I am not against religion. There are many mainstream religions, Christian and other, in which good values are maintained and emphasized in a supportive spirit of generosity. Your own bad experience should not blind you to all the good out there.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemöller, Theodore Hesburgh, Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Hosea Williams, Vernon Johns and Benjamin Hooks were all preachers, after all.

As is David Barnhart, who’s been getting a lot of attention on social media this week.


Still, I would suggest that those who want to live in a restrictive, repression-based theocracy should move to one, and not use medieval religious imagery to impose their personal beliefs on a modern, secular democracy.

If Gary Varvel (Creators) believes misshapen tadpoles become six-year-old toddlers in a cloud-based heaven, that is his right, though I’ve never understood why going straight to heaven without having to suffer life’s Sturm-und-Drang is such a bad thing.

But Mario had it right, as did the Founders, and thank god the Christian Scientists aren’t an intolerant, voting majority or we’d all be up there peeking over the edges of the clouds.

For a more wise, less wiseass, take on the issue, Jennifer Rubin offers what you might call an update on religious tolerance in a diverse society, and the threat being posed at the moment:


That aforementioned Domer, Pat Byrnes, offers a chilling backup to Rubin’s fears, and it’s neither paranoia nor is if far-fetched, so long as Alito’s draft is not significantly edited down into a more tightly focused reversal of Roe v Wade, with some of his invective against personal privacy and autonomy blunted.

Sage Stossel was first out of the gate with the domino imagery, and, while others have duplicated it, I like the way she did not depict an extended line but confined it to a specific list of what seems likeliest to be targeted by the Christian Taliban, once they’ve toppled that well-established precedent and can take aim at other personal rights.


Even with Alito’s more alarming language blunted, Paul Fell notes the obvious implications of the reversal, because it’s true that the word “privacy” does not appear in the Constitution, though Betty Bowers notes that the word “Jesus” isn’t in there, either.

Those who suggest that the Founders wanted Jesus an active presence in our government have a lot more contradictory evidence to overcome than those who suggest the Founders valued personal autonomy.


“Logic” is also nowhere mentioned in the document, though the Preamble sure hints at it, and JD Crowe joins in the concern with this dramatic depiction of what monstrous woes the leak, a moment not unlike Pandora peering into that box, has unleashed upon the land.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Lisa Benson – Creators)


(Chip Bok – Creators)

Benson and Bok, as well as other conservatives, explain that the problem is not that the Court is overturning a well-established precedent and denying a right codified nearly a half-century ago, but that we found out before they decided to tell us.

I agree with Benson that it sure rained on their parade, though I’m disinclined to join Bok in calling it the death of justice, since it is she, not us, who are supposed to remain forever blindfolded.

But I think it adds to suspicion that the leaker was a conservative, not a liberal. Even if the final decision is considerably toned down from Alito’s initial screed, releasing it now rather than on schedule three months before the midterms is likely to diminish its impact on the elections.

I’m thinking of the hundreds of thousands of women who flocked to the streets the day after Trump’s inauguration, but then dispersed and are only now awakening again.

It’s not that they stopped caring in the interim, but, their immediate fury having been sated by that moment, it hasn’t retained its initial impact and influence.

Similarly, this early leak may save the GOP in November, unless the anger involves clipboards and registration drives rather than just a temporary burst of shouting in the street.


Which is to say that, while I don’t disagree with Matt Wuerker (Politico)’s sarcasm, somehow I can’t help but hear Mitch begging, “Please don’t throw me in that briar patch.”

Granted, he’s Br’er Terrapin, not Br’er Rabbit, and turtles are, as an older fable tells us, in the race for the long run, not the sprint.

We’ll wrap this topic up tomorrow, at least in the short run.

Meanwhile, here’s Stephen Colbert echoing my thoughts and upgrading most of them:


5 thoughts on “CSotD: While Democracy Slept (Part Two)

  1. Powerful graphic from Benson, counterbalanced by the saccharine Hallmark-cards kitsch one. One shows emotion–no surprise from Benson–the other is a carefully calculated lie with no feeling or affect apart from mawkish bargain-bin Peanuts ripoffs.

  2. Do these righties seriously think this was the first time someone leaked from the Supreme Court? Seriously??

  3. Don’t know that it’s quite accurate to say “the women who flocked to the streets after Trump’s inauguration but then dispersed and are only now awakening again.” After all, the Catholic in the White House now seems to think a woman ought to be able to make up her own mind, and he wasn’t elected to be there without many of those women who did not disperse and and go back to sleep.

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