supreme court

Freedom.  Justice.  Democracy.
What do these words mean?
What does it mean to be an American?
What are our rights?
How are they protected?

Growing up, I learned about the founding principals of our nation, about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  About how the Constitution protects our rights, about the American Political process.

But it was my childhood friend’s husband–a lawyer and a public defender–who later explained it to me clearly.  The Constitution MEANS what 5 sitting justices on the Supreme Court says it means.  The document is open to interpretation, and once these 5 people make a decision, that IS what it means.

The announcement of a Justice retiring this week, in the shadow of the 3 stinging decisions from the court, underlined the significance of the court members and the harsh reality of how much we have to lose, how much hangs in the balance.  We cannot take our freedoms for granted.  This includes our right to reproductive health care, which is so fundamental, and all our basic rights and freedoms.

I’m generally a hopeful, optimistic person, but the news from The Court makes it hard to feel hopeful.  If you missed Charles M. Blow’s opinion piece in the New York Times this week, I highly recommend it; he summed up our particular point in history well.  Here’s the link.