Politics in Interpretation: Don’t Get it Twisted on the Bench

Politics in Interpretation: Don’t Get it Twisted on the Bench

An ideology is not, in theory, going to carry over to the bench; this is often overlooked, as many assume that personal beliefs most definitely decide constitutionality.
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A lot of people often associate the government with politics; this makes sense, as many people with thorough understanding of their ideologies can argue a case as to why their interpretation of an issue is most important and correct. Also, a lot of incoming law students often finish their undergraduate experience with a Political Science degree. Even if someone has the intentions of being a lawyer and does not have a traditional-subject degree before heading to law school, that person will have certain beliefs which lead them to argue a law or interpret things in some way. In the end, every person has some type of bias, even if it is not acknowledged in the process of making a decision.

This, too, includes judges, who decide if a law should be upheld, whether or not someone is guilty, and so on. In other words, a judge has to separate themselves from the facts and opinions, one of the hardest jobs, especially if outside forces or a personal agenda has the potential to influence a decision. This, of course, is especially relevenat for the Supreme Court.

Because of this, a while back, many Democrats objected to the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to fill Justice Scalia’s seat. While it is fair to object because there was not even a hearing of Merrick Garland, former-President Barack Obama’s choice for Supreme Court, Gorsuch still deserved a fair examination of past decisions and justifications.

I’ll admit: as a registered and very passionate Democrat, I really did try to find dirt on this guy and I was not really a fan of him by his association with some conservative viewpoints. But, among doing research and listening to his hearings, in the end I didn’t seem to really mind Gorsuch and I learned an important lesson he cleared up about judging being separate from a political atmosphere. And yes, I do think Merrick Garland should have had a hearing, and a lot of days I wonder what would have happened if he did. But the reality is, Gorsuch filled the seat instead, so it’s important to know what exactly that meant and why months later, this is still relevant. Why would I use an article to write about the guy in relation to constitutionality if it didn’t matter?

Typically, in interpretation, liberals align with loose interpretation and conservatives feel more strongly about strict interpretation. I expected very harsh strict interpretation ideals out of Gorsuch, and since I don’t mind government intervention to an extent and I like loose interpretation, I expected to really dislike him and find him quite biased. But something he did well in his hearing was explain that it is a matter of the law in analyzing all the facts presented as well as hearing the oral arguments: just because he is a registered Republican, that does not mean he would put it beneath him to rule in a “liberal” sense. He emphasized that his registration did not mean he was the envelopment of party ideals and he was not polarized, as many people aren’t. He even won votes from a few Democrats in the decision. I realized that this was really significant, perhaps the most important point to discuss in learning about the judicial branch.

It is not always enough to just tell someone “The Judicial Branch of the U.S. government interprets laws.” Okay, how? What are interpretations based off of? Why do traditionally nine people get to debate an argument, and not more nor less? What are some traditional signs in which someone will or will not decide in a specific measure at hand? What happens with a vacancy? What does it mean to have a split decision? These shouldn’t be things to have to take a class for; these are genuinely curious, valid questions that should be addressed to a person when the judicial branch is presented as an idea at all. Also, sure, political ideology would encourage someone to lean a certain way in a decision just based on interpretation from those ideals, but it is not the definite factor in a decision by far.

This isn’t just apparent in Gorsuch; this is apparent in judges throughout history, which seems to get overlooked. Gorsuch just seems to be a relevant example of this. Senator Tim Kaine is personally pro-life, but advocates for pro-choice policy; it can even be seen sometimes in representatives. Politics is not the be-all, end-all in arguments or in life. And this coming from a Political Science major who does nothing but track what’s happening in politics all the time. It’s important to look at each question listed above and realize that the judicial branch is as vital of a governmental organ and operates as much as the legislative and executive branches do. Just because the public hears about some ridiculous story that some Senator has been involved in or the President uses Twitter to announce official, law-changing, turning-point making decisions and doesn’t hear much from the Supreme Court, that doesn’t mean the justices aren’t as busy and aren’t making decisions that affect us all to large extents.

A liberal judge will not always make a decision based on loose interpretation and a conservative judge will not always make a decision based on strict interpretation. It heavily depends on the matter presented as well as the facts provided at-hand; Gorsuch is an example of this.

Cover Image Credit: Supreme Court, Wikimedia

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Double Standards Are Plaguing Our Society

What and how are double standards hurting our society?
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Why is that when a female has many sexual partners she is considered a slut, but when a male does it he is celebrated as a king? Why is it when a male wears makeup or paints his nails his shunned by the world, but when a girl does it she looks bomb? How can the pope support ending the gender gap, but refuse to allow women to hold spiritual leadership roles? It’s because we live in a world filled with double standards.

What is a double standard? Merriam-Webster states it’s “a rule or principle that is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups.” We see in our society that there are many double standards between races, religions, sexualities, and genders.

Many double standards are hurting our country and even our world. Many people are blind to the double standards that plague our community especially if isn’t affecting them, while some just accept these as okay in our society, but they aren't okay. Here a few double standards that are seen in today's society.

Gender.

  • Women are paid less than men for doing the same exact job.
  • If a man cries he is considered weak, while it’s alright for a woman to do so.
  • When a male is sexually harassed by a woman he is lucky, while it happens to women it’s considered rape (I’m not denouncing rape that happens to women)
  • If a woman asserts any kind of dominance she’s a bitch, but if a guy does it he’s a leader.

Religion.

  • If someone of Muslim faith kills someone the headlines are “Muslim Terrorist Strikes Again!”, but they never announce if the killer was a Christian. They say he was a “lone wolf”
  • If a Christian teacher tried to make the class pray it would be okay, and millions would support them, but if a Muslim teacher tried that the world would go crazy.
  • the KKK (who are “Christians”) is okay, they can recruit through their website which isn’t blocked in any way and even endorsed our current president

Race.

  • If a black person does anything they seem suspicious, but when white people do it, it’s okay.
  • When NFL teams win big games their fans destroy cities, but if any peaceful protest happens it’s a riot and police decide to throw tear gas.
  • If a white person uses weed their considered a stoner, but if a black person does it they’re a criminal.

Sexuality.

  • if a straight couple does anything it’s normal. If a gay couple does it, it’s an abomination.
  • Straight couples can mistreat their own kids and it be okay, but if a gay couple wants to adopt a kid all hell breaks loose.

Weight.

  • If some bigger over eats their considered fat, and unhealthy, but if a thinner person over eats no one says a word.

Of course, there are so many other double standards that affect other groups of people, but just having these few is too many. We have to do something about this! If we allow one group of people to do something we must allow all other groups to do so as well. This must change to allow everyone to feel equal if we claim to be an equal opportunity country.

It isn't impossible to change these double standards as we have seen double standards in the past be changed. such as a male could be a doctor, but a women couldn't. Or even a white person holding a higher position in work and black person couldn't. Therefore, we see a change can happen, but only if we choose to make it happen.

Cover Image Credit: Ashley8053

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