Coming Soon to Your Life

It is during the month of June when the Supreme Court of the United States (SOCTUS) releases its decisions on the cases it has agreed to hear. There are five cases that are expected to be significant for life in these United States – and for those who carry the mantle “pro-life.”


The case dominating public attention involves Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Last month, Politico reported that five justices — all the Republican appointees save Roberts — had tentatively voted not only to allow Mississippi’s ban but to go even further and overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing full abortion bans. There is more than enough coverage on the implications, speculations and possibilities of what set of dominoes begin to fall because of the decision.

What concerns me is that the Church will collectively have a “mission accomplished” moment similar to Pres. Bush. While aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, standing directly under a “Mission Accomplished” banner, the President declared, “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”  Little did we know we were just at the start of a never-ending war in the region.


In a time when the nation is awash in gun violence, SCOTUS will rule on a New York State law that restricts people’s ability to carry guns in public. Fourteen years ago, the Supreme Court threw out a Washington, D.C. law that heavily regulated how people could keep guns in their homes.  New York requires people to demonstrate that they have a specific need to carry a handgun in public. During the recent oral arguments in a case challenging that law, the conservative justices’ questions suggested they were likely to overturn the law and rule that it violated the Second Amendment. If they do, the ruling could also invalidate similar laws in a handful of other states, including California, Maryland and Massachusetts.  While the issues are complex, given that there have been 250 or so mass shootings so far this year (deaths or wounding of 4 or more innocent people), it is a pro-life issue.

Regulatory Power

Many cases that come before SCOTUS are hand-picked and guided through the court system in order to promote a particular view/agenda. These are guided by well funded groups. The Washington D.C. gun law mentioned above was an example. This year one such case (West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency) is ideologically being guided by the Federalist Society, an organization of conservatives and libertarians that advocates for a textualist and originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution. While the case is complex, the legal argument is that government agencies should not be permitted to impose regulations that Congress has not specifically enacted; Congress should be making the laws and not unelected bureaucrats. Those against the legal argument counter that Congress cannot envision every scenario when passing laws and that regulators need the flexibility to protect citizens from harms — like pollution, the specific content in this case.  Is this a pro-life issue. When you don’t live near a polluting factory or power plant, or live downstream from a polluting manufacturer, you might not think so, but then you are likely removed from the “The Jungle” Sinclair Lewis described 116 years ago.

Religious Freedom

Religious freedom is a central tenent of what it means to be pro-life.The court’s new majority has already shown a strong desire to protect religious freedom. That position seems likely to manifest itself in two new decisions this month. One deals with a challenge to a Maine law that allows rural residents who live far from any public school to attend a private school using taxpayer dollars, but not a religious private school. The other deals with a former high school football coach near Seattle who lost his job after praying on the 50-yard line at the end of his team’s games; he argued that doing so was a matter of religious freedom, while the school district contended that he was effectively pressuring team members into participating.

…just thought you’d want to know what is coming to your life.

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