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Toward theocracy

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Offensive though he is, Don Imus’ insults to women are slight compared to those of the United States Supreme Court, and the justices are harder to get rid of.

Imus lost his job for disparaging young black women who play basketball. A five-member majority of the Court has said that all women are incapable of administering their own bodies, even with help from their doctors, and must rely on men to make decisions for them.

The one woman on the Court dissented forcefully. (To their credit, three of her male colleagues joined her.) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that by upholding a ban on the procedure imaginatively and inaccurately called “partial birth abortion,” the Court invited government intervention in matters rightly decided by individuals. She also noted the drastic reversal of direction by the Court under its new majority.

“The Court’s defense of [the ban] cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court,” Ginsburg wrote. “The Court offers flimsy and transparent justifications for upholding a nationwide ban on [late-term abortions] sans any exception to safeguard a woman’s health.” She quoted from a previous Court decision keeping government out of the womb: “Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principles of morality, but that cannot control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.” Bill Clinton chose well when he appointed Ginsburg to the Court. Yet another reason to miss him.

Ginsburg’s dissent got to the point, just as the rambling majority opinion evaded it. The unadmitted purpose of the ruling was to force the justices’ own religious beliefs on others. Their religion teaches that women are inferior? Then all must accept that teaching. The separation of church and state is despised by these fellows, though nothing more distinguishes America from and elevates her above other countries.

It’s frightening to think of the judges applying their private moral codes to other matters likely to come before the Court. Vouchers for private schools. Contraception. Gay rights. Tax money for “faith-based” organizations. Government-prescribed prayer in the public schools (and everywhere else, for that matter).

Eventually, these five authoritarian religionists will leave the bench, as all judges must, thank God. But what devastation they may leave behind: The alienation of rights that Americans have believed unalienable. The shadow of a merged Big Church and Big Government lying ominously across the land. A nation that Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t recognize.

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