Supreme Court Landslide
The court just delivered a slew of major victories in the culture wars of the United States to conservatives.
Today’s headlines bring a landslide of decisions by the US Supreme Court that will please conservative culture warriors. As it turns out — according to the constitution and the court — people with religiously based morals DO have a right to decide not to use their talents to promote things they believe are immoral. The Supremes ruled by a large majority that people who believe homosexuality is a sin for religious reasons that go back thousands and thousands of years do not have to help gays celebrate their marriages by creating websites for their weddings.
There is a difference between refusing to participate in the celebration and creation of a gay wedding and refusing to provide your business services for someone just because they are gay. It is one thing to say, “I won’t promote gay marriage because I believe it is immoral according to my religious beliefs” and quite another to say, “I won’t create a business website for this man because he is gay.”
If you were not allowed to take the first position, the government would be forcing you to work to directly advocate something that is counter to your religious beliefs. On the other hand, arguing that your religion doesn’t even allow you to work respectfully with other people who are gay would be a much tougher argument. The Supreme Court made it clear you can do the former where it is genuinely applicable to your religion or beliefs.
Judge Neil Gorsuch wrote,
The First Amendment “envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.” Gorsuch said that the court has long held that “the opportunity to think for ourselves and to express those thoughts freely is among our most cherished liberties and part of what keeps our Republic strong.”
Creating a website is a form of speech. The government forcing you to create a website that promotes something against your own thoughts and beliefs is a direct dictate to speak as you do not wish to.
In an earlier decision about gay marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote,
Even as it has expanded gay rights, however, the court has been careful to say those with differing religious views needed to be respected. The belief that marriage can only be between one man and one woman is an idea that “long has been held — and continues to be held — in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.”
We are not talking in this case about something just made up as a religious belief to dodge a government dictate. It has thousands of years of globally widespread human belief behind it — millennia — that cannot just be thrown away as suddenly irrelevant by those who don’t like the beliefs. People need to respect each other BOTH ways by allowing room for those deeply-rooted beliefs to be respected as they guide the behavior of true practitioners of such beliefs, whether one agrees with them or not.
Along similar lines, the court also issued a ruling today that a Christian postal worker has the right to refuse to work on the Sabbath and cannot be fired for simply living by religious beliefs that date all the way back to the Ten Commandments, written some 5-6,000 years ago. The US Postal Service does not have the right to command him to live counter to what he believes — whether rightly or wrongly for longstanding religious reasons (some of the longest-standing in history) — is a sin. To do so is to force him to commit an act against his own religious beliefs.
Supreme Court Justice Katanji Brown, who may not have figured out yet if she is a woman, having indicated in her confirmation hearing that such a question was far beyond her judgement capabilities, not being a biologist by training, wrote in dissent against yesterday’s court decision to end affirmative action that, the law and constitution not withstanding, racism must be ended by promoting obvious racism against White students in college enrollment processes as a way of making up for years of painful and wrong suppression of Black people. Apparently she does not need a degree in biology to determine if she or another is Black. It is not enough to simply ban racism wherever it pops up. She essentially argues that years of counter-racist racism have not yet achieved the equality in treatment that Black people do deserve. That requires unequal treatment. (*This is not my logic; it is hers.)
In another blow to Democrats, the Supremes ruled that President Biden acted unconstitutionally in forgiving the debts of hundreds of thousands of students. Democrats are reportedly livid at being told their president cannot rule the nation by dictatorial decrees. He cannot, for example, decide to forgive the debts of entire sections of the populace based on his personal wishes. What will he do next? Forgive only the student loans of Black students as a path to righting the wrongs of racism?
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The big economic news of the day is all about recession that is and is not coming. Documents from within the Federal Reserve show that some economists within the Fed are afraid that Fed policy is creating a “catastrophic” recession. The bond market yield curve also just steepened to its worse positioning as a marker of imminent recession since the early 1980’s when the US had a horrible recession during its battle against inflation. I won’t say much more about that here because I am exploring, in greater depth than a morning editorial, what it is the Fed dreads in its own internal documents as I write this week’s Deeper Dive for the benefit of paying subscribers.
I’ll just say there are some pretty deep concerns from inside the Fed as well as from other signs coming from the economy. However, as Wolf Richter points out on Wolf Street, this is the recession that keeps not coming, in spite of being the most highly anticipated recession in memorable history. There he points largely to GDP’s recent big revision upward for the first quarter (which has also precipitated a significant spike upward in the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow forecast for the second quarter). There are no straight lines in economics.
Where the data on recession is much less contradictory is in China. I noted yesterday how the yuan is struggling because China destroyed its economy, which led the People’s Bank of China to try to rescue the Chinese currency three times this week. I also noted that is a continuing saga that has seen the yuan fall for seven months in a row, in spite of other such rescues; and I hope I conveyed with clarity the concept that yesterday’s reported yuan rescue would fail almost as soon as it was made.
Well, it did. Today the PBOC jumped in with its fourth prop this week. So, as I’ve been arguing for over a year now, the yuan has a long road ahead if it is going to become a strong contender against the US dollar as a global currency, the dollar having remained very strong relative to other currencies during this period where all economies in the world are struggling because most of the nations in this world foolishly shut their economies down over a bad cold and because of absurdly loose central-bank money printing in response to those lockdowns. So, now we are heading into peculiar stagflationary recessions in many nations that do not behave like normal recessions.
China’s economic woes keep worsening, and President Xi has no easy fix to the problems his Xiro-Covid polices all but assured. It turns out dictators cannot really just do anything they want to do (like forgive hundreds of thousands of student loans owned to numerous financial institutions by paying for them with your taxes without congressional approval). It turns out, for example, you cannot dictate economic reality. So, the economy in China is not snapping back by demand. Neither is China’s beleaguered currency.
Capturing some sense of reality, however, China is now working hard to do the groundwork necessary to create a better reality by assuring international businesses they will be embraced with open policies if they return to working in China. That is to say, the communists are promising they will not act so much like communists. That is, of course, the right move; but it would be a naive move for businesses to embrace that declaration after having spent billions realigning supply lines due to all of China’s shutdowns. CEOs have no excuse for not knowing that communist countries, including China, have long histories of inviting businesses in when they need the business and then nationalizing them sometime down the road. Let’s hope US businesses are not ignorant enough (or just greedy enough) to have forgotten the lessons of history so easily.
(Headline links to articles that lay out all the details of the news referred to in this editorial can be found in boldface type in the section that follows for paid subscribers.)
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