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Readers react to Supreme Court cases

The majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll agree with last week’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

At the same time, respondents were closely split on how confident they are that the Supreme Court justices make decisions based on objective interpretations of the law, not personal or political views. Fifty-one percent said they are not confident.

In King v. Burwell, the 6-3 decision held that the Affordable Care Act allows federally run insurance exchanges to subsidize low-income residents’ premiums. Had the decision barred federal subsidies in the 30 states that have declined to set up insurance exchanges, it could have threatened the entire system created by the health care law.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents agree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Prior to the decision, same-sex unions were legal in 37 states—in 26 states by court decision and in 11 by legislative or popular vote.

Sixty-one percent of respondents agree with the high court’s decision in this case.

In his majority opinion in the same-sex marriage case, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that “the Constitution contemplates that democracy is the appropriate process for change, so long as that process does not abridge fundamental rights.”

Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented in both of last week’s big cases, wrote in response to Kennedy’s opinion of “the Court’s claimed power to create ‘liberties’ that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine … robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”

These decisions join a long list of controversial Supreme Court rulings including Bush v. Gore (2000) and Roe v. Wade (1973). Among recent examples is the 2010 decision—also written by Kennedy—in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that it was unconstitutional to ban political spending by corporations, associations and unions.

Nearly 900 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted June 29.

Do you agree or disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell (Affordable Care Act)?
Agree:  57%  Disagree:  43%

Do you agree or disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (same-sex marriage)?
Agree:  61%  Disagree:  39%

In general, how confident are you that the U.S. Supreme Court justices make decisions based on objective interpretations of the law, not personal or political views?
Very confident:  13%  Somewhat confident:  36%  Not very confident:  26%  Not at all confident: 25%

COMMENTS:
We are the only industrialized nation without universal health care. Utterly ridiculous! And civil marriage should not be based upon sexuality. One’s church or religion can have its opinion, but that’s church law, not civil law.
—Carlos Mercado

Unlike other courts, the Supreme Court is supposed to make decisions based on a dynamic view of important constitutional principles in the context of contemporary society. This has been the case since the 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison. The individual justices view the Constitution and the society in the light of their own individual experiences. That’s why it is important to have a diverse court. The rationale expressed in the opinions of the court is always a justification for the personal opinion of the justices. The system has worked well for two centuries notwithstanding periodic handwringing and posturing about things like “strict construction” and “judicial activism.” The only important question for any of the three branches of our government is whether we can maintain and enforce peaceful acceptance of congressional, presidential and judicial decisions. With the major exception of the Civil War, this has pretty much been the case since 1789. With respect to the Supreme Court, the concept of “objective interpretations of the law” makes no sense. The magic is that we have had so many years of basic governmental legitimacy. Great Britain has an 800-year head start on us, but we’re doing pretty well by comparison with the rest of the world.
—Rob Brown, Schatz Brown Glassman Kossow LLP

It is very clear from their decision on the ACA that the Supreme Court would fail a basic reading comprehension test. Their job is to interpret what Congress says in its legislation. Instead, they now “know” what Congress intended but didn’t correctly word that intention in the letter of the law. How “Clintonesque” of them to in effect define “is” for the country. It’s whatever the Supreme Court means it to be. Can we impeach the Supreme Court? As far as same sex-marriage goes, this isn’t so much about same-sex marriage as it is about trampling states’ rights and the Constitution. The Supreme Court has again said it knows best and completely ignored those rights of the states. It makes one wonder what pressures this administration has brought to bear on the justices when these and other decisions trash the Constitution!
—Keith B. Robinson, Diamond Packaging

I am disgusted that a Supreme Court justice (Justice Antonin Scalia) would turn on the court and question the validity of the power they have. He should be ashamed and removed from the court if he really feels this way. I will pray for him and his terrible attitude. It is a sad day for us when the people we turn to for real answers feel this way.
—Mary Roat

I am especially pleased with the marriage decision, because it reaffirms my belief that this country really was founded on the belief that all of its citizens are equal.
—David Lamb, Rochester

For more comments, go to rbjdaily.com.  To participate in the weekly RBJ Snap Poll, sign up for the Daily Report at staging.rbj.net/dailyreport.

7/3/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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