On Filibustering Gorsuch

By the time you read this, it may be a done deal, since I forgot to write this last night. But I think it’s still an important statement to get out there.

The Republicans have made it very clear that they intend to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, no matter what. So the Democrats have nothing to lose by opposing him, and nothing to gain by letting him through easily.

“But what about preserving the filibuster for future SCOTUS nominees?”

What about it? Do you really think that if the Democrats don’t filibuster Gorsuch, but filibuster a future nominee, the Republicans won’t just eliminate the filibuster at that point? What is going to change between now and then that suddenly the Republicans are going to be interested in consensus or compromise, after being uninterested in either since at least 2003?

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Hobby Lobby v Common Sense

(Regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling about Hobby Lobby getting special treatment.)
 
1: If it’s really about religious convictions, why do they build their business on cheap products from China?
 
1a: If the test is “sincerely held beliefs”, shouldn’t the SCOTUS be asking questions to actually establish the sincerity of that belief, or otherwise looking for consistency? Much as a human can only get away with things like faith healing or conscientious objector status if they can demonstrate that they really believe in it? 
 
2: The argument that it’s the employer’s money, therefore they have somehow sullied themselves if it is spent on contraception, is dumb. If the employer still has say over what the employee does with their pay or benefits, then surely the employer is beholden to the employee’s preferences, since it was the employee that originally did the work to earn that money and then pass it on to the employer. And, for that matter, the employer shouldn’t be allowed to do what they want with the money that customers provide—so the customer should be allowed to circumscribe allowable uses.
 
So apparently what we really need is a questionnaire with each shopping transaction, so that the customer may delineate what things the money they just spent may and may not be used for by the business they are shopping at. There is no logical reason why the employer —> employee transaction remains encumbered by the giver’s morality, but no other economic transaction does. 
 
2a: Doubly so since their actual argument is that if they contract with a service, and pay employees, who then pay the service (the insurance company), who then pays the health care provider or pharmacy, that violates their principles. You know, just like how if they tip the waitress and she gives her tips to her brother who spends them on booze, they are morally culpable for promoting drunkeness. Or how when they patronize a business that spends its money to buy products from manufacturers which support a society that promotes abortion, they are directly culpable for promoting abortion. Oh, wait…
 
3: Why don’t the employees get any religious freedom to spend their paychecks how they want? 
 
4: But, ultimately, Hobby Lobby wasn’t ever forced to do this, even before the lawsuit. They always had the option to not provide subsidized health insurance to their employees, and pay the modest penalty. If they really have such strong religious convictions, it should’ve been a small price to pay. Or, if they feel like that violates their desire to “take care of” their employees, they could bump everyone’s paychecks by the amount they’re no longer spending on subsidized healthcare (and still pay that no-insurance penalty). Added bonus: then they get to be martyrs for the Christian cause, because of the onerous penalty the big mean secular government is forcing them to pay. 
 
(I’m not saying it’s a great option, but let’s distinguish between the government actually forcing things—with guns and prisons and the like—and government merely coercing with incentives and modest financial penalties. A penalty of the magnitude that Hobby Lobby faced (starting next year—don’t forget that they weren’t paying anything right now), on the scale of a business the size of Hobby Lobby, is coercive, not unavoidable. A big enough financial cost could count as “forcing”, but not this one. )
 
That would’ve made for a much stronger argument: they could give their employees enough money to buy insurance, pay the penalty for not providing/subsidizing it (which is $0 right now, right?), and launch their lawsuit to argue that so long as they are giving their employees the means to get insurance, they should not be penalized for choosing to not provide it directly, since providing it would force them to support something they consider immoral. That might almost be a sensible argument. It doesn’t answer the question of why the employer’s owner’s morality trumps not only the employees’ morality, but also societal norms as expressed in both behavior and what we support our government doing, but at least it would be consistent with the owners’ stated beliefs. 
 
Unless the real belief at issue here is controlling women. My suggestion wouldn’t let them do that.