Sunday, June 28, 2015

SCOTUS Scribblings

Q: Editor - I see from your social media feed that you're pretty upset about the two Supreme Court rulings this week. Would you care to expand your incoherent tweeting into some equally incoherent writing?
A: One benefit of the fact that I'm my own editor is that I can ask myself leading questions. Yes, this is cheating and no, I don't care.

First let's talk about King vs. Burwell. After a day of time to reflect about this ruling I've got a few thoughts:
1. Chief Justice John Roberts believes that the Legislative Branch should fix Legislative Branch problems. This is why the fact that the ACA had some language in it that basically said, "only state exchanges are eligible for tax credits" doesn't matter. If the court had said, "you're right, only state exchanges can give tax credits" then peoples' health care expenditures would have increased overnight. The court didn't want to be responsible for that, so they ruled that the federal exchange should be able to be substituted for state exchanges. I take that as a message from Chief Justice Roberts to the Congress that if they want this fixed, they need to fix it.
2. Obamacare is now a major chain around Hillary Clinton. Every failure, every rate increase, every premium hike, everyone who loses their doctor, they now have an enemy to point towards.
3. I hope that the 2016 election will start a national conversation about entitlements and the entitlement society, and this ruling makes that conversation more likely. Unfortunately, health insurance now equals health care in most peoples' minds so replacing the ACA with something else is going to be a tough fight.

Now, for the legalization of same-sex marriage. I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. What I'm coming to grips with is that this objective truth is now an opinion. "Believe" is the operative word. The cultural majority now "believes" that marriage is one man and one man, one woman and one woman and one man and one woman. Does that change what marriage is? No. What has changed is the fact that the word "marriage" has no meaning. It's whatever the will of the cultural majority says that it is. Are we as a society OK with that?

I've been married for just under two years and my wife and I recently had our first child. I've already seen how we both bring different things to our daughter's world but with this ruling I have been told that my wife and I bring exactly the same things to our child. That if you replaced me with a woman or my wife with a man, our daughter would turn out the same. I disagree. Men and women are different and bring different things to parenting. But now that belief is, like the definition of marriage, just a belief that is now overtaken by the culture. Are we as a society OK with that too?

So where do we go from here? This ruling means that all 50 states must conduct marriages between any combination of two consenting adults. What will that mean? My predictions for the next few years in no particular order:
- There will be a lawsuit filed this summer against either a church as an institution or a priest as a person for not performing a same-sex wedding. The outcome of that lawsuit will be to force the church to perform same-sex wedding. I cannot predict where that will lead.
- Same-sex marriage advocates will target the wedding service industry, specifically businesses owned by people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Any business that does not service same-sex weddings will be driven out of business, either by lawsuit or public shaming. It will make headlines but ultimately be met with a shrug from the media and popular culture.
- Adoption agencies will no longer be allowed to prefer opposite-sex couples to same-sex couples. This will cause agencies run by religious institutions to shut down.
- The first divorce proceeding involving a same-sex couple's fight over custody over their children is going to be fascinating reading.
- The first polygamy case will be filed before the 2016 election. The Supreme Court, using the same logic, will grant the right for marriage to be expanded to more than two people. After all, it's about love, right?

In short, I'm pretty worked up today, but the positive impact is that I'm stepping into the game much more than I ever have. I'm inspired and I'm motivated. More on this to come.