Understanding Healthcare Reform

I have not posted anything on here in a long time – my bad. I’ve been surprised at how busy life seems to be. Time is flying by. I’ll try to be better about posting again.

Anyway, Stuart (my brother) shared a video about healthcare reform in the U.S. with me. He had to watch it for a public health class he is taking. It is easy to follow and actually helps makes sense of the complicated healthcare reform policy upon which, just today, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments.

This is definitely something people should understand before deciding that they are for or against it. It is also relevant to the work I am doing professionally.

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Three Jews and Six Catholics Walked Into The Supreme Court

Obama is said to have selected Elena Kagan, the current Solicitor General, as his choice to replace Justice John Paul Stevens upon his retirement.

Kagan in 2009; Source: The New York Times

Interestingly, religion plays into Supreme Court nominations.  Obama was considering two Jewish people for the Supreme Court nomination.  Stevens is Protestant – and apparently the only current Protestant Supreme Court Justice.  With Obama’s choice of Kagan, assuming she is confirmed, there will be no Protestant Justice.  This is interesting in the United States, with the country’s White Anglo-Saxon Protestant background.  Perhaps this is a step towards a more diverse country?  I’m sure Obama will be attacked for that one by someone.  Clearly diversity is bad.  Oh wait…

Interestingly, one Rabbi stated “that possibly having no Protestant justice member on the court could be seen as a lack of diversity, but he also stressed that this has more to do with the court having six Catholic justices.”  How ironic.

Kagan is said to have views that are in line with the Jewish community.  That could prove to be good for the Jewish community.  She is also said to be liberal, but fairly moderate.  That should get her Republican support.  I hope that she rules without political bias though, the same way I believe all Supreme Court Justices should.  That may be a little utopian though.

The religious makeup of the Supreme Court has changed dramatically over time.  In 1800, it looked like this:

Source: adherents.com on NPR

And in 2000, before Stevens’ retirement, it looks like:

Source: adherents.com on NPR

According to an author quoted by NPR, “religion is the third rail of Supreme Court politics. It’s not something that’s talked about in polite company”.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the Senate over the next few weeks and what the commentators have to say.

A Cross on Public Land

I am a huge fan of the separation of church and state.  I strongly believe that religion and government should be and need to be separate.  It is the only way for a government to truly represent all of its citizens.  I understand that the United States was founded on Christian ideals, but that does not mean that Christianity should receive preferential treatment over any other religion or over non-religion.

Even the phrase “separation of church and state” gives preference to one religion over others.  How ironic…

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that a cross in a national park was not a government endorsement of religion.  I disagree.  Of course, the vote was along “partisan lines”.  This should, of course, not even be a piece of commentary when referring to the Supreme Court.  Nevertheless, it seems as though Democrats have a more strict definition of the separation of church and state.  Regardless, I wonder if the court’s decision would have been different if the cross in question was not a memorial to veterans…

The Supreme Court

I try to stay up to date with current events.  As much as the news can be biased (even though most sources claim to be “objective”) and as much as the news can make me angry, it is important to understand the news to effectively interact with society.

Every time a Supreme Court Justice retires, the whole country seems to focus on the Supreme Court.  It seems as though interest in the U.S. Government can only exist when conflict is looming or ongoing.  Regardless of one’s political beliefs, any true believer in democracy and a system of checks and balances should support a President choosing a Supreme Court nominee based purely on qualifications, not based on the current congressional political situation.

Hopefully, our government can one day function as it should.  In the meantime, the public should educate ourselves on what the Supreme Court is doing.  The Wall Street Journal has put together a great page about Supreme Court cases this term.  While I do not necessarily always agree with the politics of the Wall Street Journal, they did a good job here.

Informed citizens are better citizens.  Even if we disagree, we can do so intelligently.