Tuesday, June 16, 2020

June, the Month of Unexpected Supreme Court Decisions

Ah, the month of June, the month when the Supreme Court releases the last decisions for the season, decisions which are bound to surprise someone.  Yesterday we got two of those decisions.

The one that captured the national conversation yesterday and likely today is the one that rules that LGBTQ workers are protected by federal law.  Wow.  I predict that when historians look back on the great Civil Rights decisions, this one will be much higher on the list than the marriage decision from a different June in this decade (2015 to be precise).

As many people have pointed out, the ruling yesterday will have much further reaching impact than the marriage ruling.  Very few of us make it through a whole lifetime without working; marriage rates, on the other hand, are declining.

And it may have further reaching impacts, in terms of how other laws are likely to be interpreted.  If we can't discriminate based on this broader definition of gender in employment, the court is likely to also find that we can't discriminate in housing or health care or other issues that quickly become ones of life or death.

A less heralded decision yesterday also caught my attention:  the Supreme Court declined to revisit a lower court decision that upheld a law that the Trump administration sought to overturn: a California sanctuary law that limits local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities.  Most news stories have covered the law enforcement aspect, which means that police departments don't have to comply with federal authorities in immigration issues unless there's a serious crime involved.

I immediately wondered what this means for churches.  Granted, very few of them are sheltering immigrants who may not have their immigration papers.  But I suspect this ruling gives those churches additional protection.

I know that there are Christians across the nation who will get some air time as they comment on these decisions.  I hope the depictions are balanced, but I'm fairly sure they won't be.  Most of my pastor friends are in favor of the decision that protects the rights of workers, regardless of gender, sexual identity, race, age, and other qualifiers.

Sadly, those are not the pastors who are likely to get air time in these divisive days.

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