Political Education


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President Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court picks on September 9th that includes the United States senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton.

A member of the religious right, Cotton has advocated for the concept of ‘covenant marriage‘. A covenant marriage limits the grounds for divorce. The Bible is pretty clear on the topic of divorce. A covenant marriage only allows divorce if certain circumstances are met. Those circumstances may be limited to adultery, abandonment, a felony crime, and substance abuse.

Unlike covenant marriage, ‘no-fault’ divorce does not require proof of wrongdoing by either party. A university study found that states with no-fault divorce laws had a 20 percent reduction in married women suicide after 20 years and a 33 percent reduction in domestic violence including murder.

How should we think about codifying our private religious morality into public law? In 1984 New York Governor Mario Cuomo gave a lecture at Notre Dame University titled “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective”. In his lecture, Cuomo said,

“Our public morality,… the moral standards we maintain for everyone, not just the ones we insist on in our private lives — depends on a consensus view of right and wrong. The values derived from religious belief will not — and should not — be accepted as part of the public morality unless they are shared by the pluralistic community at large, by consensus. That values happen to be religious values does not deny them acceptability as a part of this consensus. But it does not require their acceptability, either.”

Mario Cuomo

Cuomo’s approach to public morality has been rejected by the religious right. From issues such as prayer in schools, the civil rights of homosexuals, and outlawing abortion, the agenda of the religious right runs counter to the consensus of the American public. The religious right has been trying to overturn Roe vs Wade ever since it was decided by the Supreme Court.

With the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, there is a possibility of a solidly right-wing Supreme Court majority for years to come. After the religious right overturns the American consensus on abortion, what’s next? Marriage?

Thanks and a tip of the hat to tvdflickr or the image “Religious right protests Atlanta’s Pride Parade, 2017” . See more of tvdflicker’s work at https://www.flickr.com/photos/24580165@N03.

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