Gorsuch, Life, and Church/State Separation

A lot of people, even some Libertarians, seem perfectly happy with the selection of Gorsuch to join the Supreme Court, and most of the praise stems from a few basic things. I’m going to take them in reverse order (from what would be logical), though. First, then, is his probable pro-choice positions.

Though Gorsuch has never ruled one way or another on abortion, statements in his book that “Human life is intrinsically valuable,” which were made regarding assisted suicide and euthanasia (I can’t help but wonder if he applies the same statement to the death penalty, though), have been extrapolated and assumed to apply to abortion.

This means that in the last few days, I’ve seen “Libertarians” praising Gorsuch and hoping that this civil issue can find its way back to the Supreme Court so that the Federal Government can further regulate abortion. *sigh*

Anyway, whether he is pro-life or would send the matter back to individual states isn’t much of a concern to me right now. The bigger concern is this notion that “Human life is intrinsically valuable,” which forms a basis for his legal rulings, and as such constitutes a violation of the separation of church and state. It’s subtle, but it’s a violation all the same.

If I were to say “All life, plant and animal, is intrinsically and equally valuable as human life,” no one would have a hard time noticing the heavy religious (Hindu, specifically) overtones. It wouldn’t be a matter of debate. If I was a federal judge and went on to make rulings on that basis (such as outlawing the eating of meat by arguing it is murder), there would be widespread protests about how I’d be violating the separation of church and state by ruling based on my personal religious beliefs.

Though it’s generally shared by most Americans, even non-religious ones, penetration into the cultural zeitgeist and widespread acceptance doesn’t turn a religious idea into a non-religious one. We can argue the NAP, make a utilitarian argument, or use some other argument in favor of pro-life, but we can’t make a religious one in a federal court.

Human life is not intrinsically valuable. In fact, nothing is. A thing’s value does not exist independently of the person observing it and assigning the value. We can easily see the fallacy by applying it to anything else.

  • Steaks are intrinsically valuable.
  • Television is intrinsically valuable.
  • Planets are intrinsically valuable.

Now, if I know the types of people I’m thinking about, they’re reading this, shaking their heads, and mumbling, “You can’t compare LIFE to television and steaks! This is… This is existence! The gift of life! Human life! It can’t be compared to a steak!”

Right… Because they’ve decided that life is intrinsically valuable, for no reason other than that they think it is, and so it’s “obviously” different from these other things. It’s a circular position; they can’t see that life’s “intrinsic value” is fairly compared to the “intrinsic value” of television, because they’re starting from the assumption that life is intrinsically valuable.

“I have ten red jelly beans, and they’re automatically better than other jelly beans,” A said

“That’s silly. I have ten green jelly beans, and they’re just as ‘automatically better’ than other jelly beans,” said B.

“No, because red jelly beans are automatically better, so they can’t even be compared to those other ones,” replied B.

This is an issue, and I don’t think supreme court justices should start from the basis of a religious belief to decide an issue.

The Constitution

Much fuss has been made about Gorsuch’s position on the Constitution, that it must be interpreted in a way that common people of the day of its writing would have understood it, which is a common sense position. I’ve seen even more Libertarians excited about this than the prospect of his being pro-life.

I’d be excited, too, if I was delusional enough to think that the Constitution has any bearing at all in the modern United States, but it doesn’t. The Constitution hasn’t meant anything in decades–more than a century to be honest.

Having a branch of the government assigned the duty of determining whether or not the government has the legal authority to do something is “intrinsically” flawed. We might as well go ahead and accept that internal police investigations will be the sole deciders in whether an officer acted unlawfully.

At absolute minimum, here we need to take a lesson from the British, although instead of having a dual parliament (which we sort of have, but in a somewhat less effective way) we need to have a dual court system–the government’s and the people’s. It’s not enough that the Federal Supreme Court would say that something is Constitutional; the People’s Supreme Court must agree. If the two do not agree, the law is sent back to Congress for amendments, per instructions included.

The Federal Supreme Court sounds like a good idea… at first. And then it becomes apparent that we’ve given the government the exclusive power to determine whether the government has the authority to do something. As we’ve seen from blatant abuses, it becomes a rubber stamp of state power, with no way for us to appeal it. If the Supreme Court says something is Constitutional and produces a 3700 page document of legalese explaining how it’s totally fine, then we have no recourse for addressing it.

All branches of the government threw out the Constitution. I’m glad people are beginning to pay attention to how the President uses Executive Orders to legislate, but none of these reach the Supreme Court, nor can they. They exist outside of the confines of the Constitution entirely, as they are typically directives to other governmental bodies. The Supreme Court can’t rule on whether it’s constitutional for the President to sign an executive order placing a gag order on government agencies, because neither the government agencies nor directives have anything to do with the Constitution.

Congress, the only people who could do anything about it, don’t, and it’s easy to see why. Republicans want their Republican President to be able to impose conservative policy without going through all the hassle of a constitutional republic and trying to get bills through Congress, so it’s easier to grit their teeth through a Democratic President. Overturning the system, after all (which republicans could have done in the last few years), by easily passing a law that reaffirms Congress as the controllers of these agencies, would have meant that President Republican wouldn’t be able to unilaterally rule the country and Congress might actually have to do something.

Instead, Congress simply creates the agencies and turns the keys over to the oval office. Even if they don’t specifically turn over control, they always end up under the President’s control anyway, since he goes on to hire and appoint tens of thousands of people. Even if he didn’t, control is only one negligent Congress and one executive order away.

So you’ll forgive me for not being happy we’ve got a constructionist going to the Supreme Court. It’s irrelevant, because nothing that actually matters will ever find its way before the Supreme Court. Whether Congress has the authority to create the EPA, USPS, the Department of Education, and all the others will never, ever be brought to the Supreme Court.

At absolute best, we might end up with one of these unelected, unaccountable government agencies doing something unconstitutional, and that one act may end up at the Supreme Court, but even that isn’t likely, and instead the Supreme Court will continue on rubberstamping government power grabs and either pushing a liberal agenda onto the entire nation or, at freaking best, sending issues back to the states.

I’m disappointed in myself for how much I was truly hoping that Judge Andrew Napolitano would get the nomination. It isn’t like Napolitano could have done much, but I would tentatively trust him with that level of power–with one scrutinizing eye on him the whole time.

There aren’t many people who I trust with power, and even those don’t get a blank check. I’d trust John McAfee as President, but I’d keep my eyes on him. I will never trust someone enough to give them power and turn away, trusting that they wouldn’t abuse it. I simply can’t, because I know how power is. Neither could I simply rejoice at Supreme Court Justice Napolitano and trust for the next three decades that he was doing the right thing. No one should trust anyone to that degree. I wouldn’t trust myself with that level of power, and would rely on people close to me to keep me in line.

Power corrupts. It is not just a corrupting agent; it is intoxicating and addictive. I was once in a relationship with a very submissive chick, and I ended the relationship because it simply was intoxicating and addictive; I’ve felt it personally, that primal sense of control and authority. I loved it, as anyone would (most people would dispute that, but most people would say they wouldn’t abuse the presidency, too, when the truth is… Yeah, they would…), but I don’t like things beyond my control.

That requires more elaboration than I really care to get into, but it’s just like any other addictive intoxicant. You’re addicted and intoxicated; you’re the opposite of “in control.”

Sure, we could have gotten worse than Gorsuch. But I’m tired of settling. I’m tired of “Well, it could have been worse” being stated after the government does anything. It could always have been worse. Nazi Germany could have been worse. “Sure, you have syphilis, but it could have been worse! You could have gotten HIV!”

It’s not much consolation, is it?

And we’ll be dealing with it again soon as we move toward war with China. “It could have been worse,” people will say. “We could be at war with Russia right now.”

In my focus on Hillary’s transparent attempts to ignite a war with Russia (attempts that live on in John McCain and other congressional vulture hawks), I missed most of Trump’s intentions of starting one with China. 2016, evidently, was the year we chose between war with Russia and war with China.

All because people settled for someone who wasn’t as bad as Hillary.

Not me, of course. I voted for McAfee.

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