On Monday we commemorate Memorial Day, when we remember military personnel who died in service to the country. Tuesday begins a month of memorial days as we watch our Supreme Court continue to roll back those very rights soldiers died for, trampling them more effectively than any enemy foreign or, for the most part, domestic, ever has.
Last year it was the overturning of abortion rights, reducing women again to second-class status. The court also curtailed the government’s ability to regulate the energy industry, ensuring that seas will rise faster in places like Flagler County and cost us more to preserve those darling beaches. Obviously our darling Republican county and city commissioners will call it resilience instead of theft by the Republican Supreme Court, and divert billions in tax dollars to ensure that their darling constituents keep building in the path of storm surges and hurricanes.
The court also demolished more gun-safety protections so we can feel macho as we assassinate each other and our children in schools. At least the court also continued its demolition of the church-state wall so we can have all those thoughts and prayers as we mourn our gun victims, which are now the leading cause of death for children and young people up to age 24.
We should also remember the decision that made baseless, conspiracy-minded anti-vaxxing legit, as the court ruled that, even though children in schools are required to be vaccinated against all sorts of diseases public health efforts have defeated, the government can’t require adults to do the same in the workplace. So your child won’t infect mine with a disease. But by all means, send your viruses across the cubicles, because we’re free and public health cannot hold a candle to the freedom to die on a ventilator, cut off from family and the rest of one’s life.
And that’s just one term. Memorial month indeed. We have so much destruction to look forward to next month, I’m not sure a cookout every day to the strings of America the Beautiful will be enough to keep up.
The warmup act was last week when the court, as always sanctifying the navel-gazer’s view of property rights, scaled back wetlands protection enough that yet more enormous swaths of once-protected Florida lands will be developers’ free for all. (Remember that beautiful wildlife corridor Paul Renner wants protected up the spine of Florida and parts of Flagler? Well, a few property owners may get in the way now that they can pave over their portion at will.)
The court will soon decide that unlike President Bush and Obama nor only pardoning banks for bankrupting a few million American homeowners during the housing crash, but rewarding them with billions to get back to health and do it all over again, President Biden had no right to forgive loans for millions of students trying to make a future for themselves. It’s not the American or this Supreme Court’s way, which misses Dredd Scott so terribly much. (There’s a chance the court will punt by deciding that the six states challenging the forgiveness have no standing to sue, but that would be a lousy way to evade the question.)
At least the court gets to kill affirmative action once and for all, a dream of conservatives as ardent as crippling women’s rights, because doesn’t Ron DeSantis remind us every day that there’s no such thing as systemic racism? That it’s those who combat racism who are evil and should be eliminated from school and university boards?
Migrants’ rights will again be trampled by giving states’ immigration vigilantism supremacy over federal law, and more rights will be granted bigots who like to discriminate against gays and lesbians needing a cake at their wedding, or to religious fanatics who think they have a right to override workplace rules.
With Citizens United in 2010 the court demolished much of what was left of the illusion that your vote matters by granting unlimited and secret bribes to political candidates in the form of dark money and mafiosi organizations euphemized as political action committees. That’s how at one point just 158 families had provided nearly half the money in the 2016 election. But it’s been a Sherman’s March of sorts through other holdouts of democracy, like fair electoral districts, which will fall this year.
The court will also rule on one of the wackiest electoral cases in years, the sort of case you’d think Florida’s Cyber Ninjas–the conspiracy theorists who conducted the audit of the 2020 election in Arizona–were advancing: whether state legislatures have the authority to redistrict and set election rules without any oversight from state courts whatsoever. It’s called the “independent state legislature theory,” pulled from the same rear end that during George W. Bush’s presidency gave us the “unitary executive theory,” or another way of saying: I’m Benito Mussolini and you’re not. Oddly enough the justices were uncomfortable with that one, but my bet is that there’ll still be enough of them to put their contempt for suffrage into yet another democracy-smashing majority.
It hasn’t been a completely lost cause. Any editor and commenter would be heartened (for now) by the unanimous decision not to kill Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the far-seeing provision dating back to the 1990s, when Congress still could muster a little imagination. 230 gives internet providers and web publishers immunity from lawsuits over content by third-party use of their platforms.
The court actually punted on 230, focusing its ruling on a different aspect of the case. The result was the same even as it invited Congress to muck things up, as a good number of Republican lawmakers want to. It was a small unintended-consequence sort of a victory for the First Amendment, but a nice little red poppy amid the killing fields.
So stock up on 80 percent lean beef and those commemorative flags we plant on fallen soldiers’ graves: fresh from our own Florida funerals for books, academic freedom, LGBTQ rights, voting rights and of course nearly 90,000 Covid victims–just about enough to replace every palm Coast resident with a grave marker–there’s so much more to mourn ahead. God bless the Supreme Court of the United States and the rights for which it can’t stand.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.