The Common Good

The U.S. Supreme Court: Health Care, Immigration, Juvenile Justice and More

Sojomail - June 28, 2012

 QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"We're going to get sued if we do. We're going to get sued if we don't. That's a terrible position to put law enforcement officers in." - Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, Pima County, Ariz., who has long argued against his state's requirement that local law enforcement be forced to ask about the legal status of anyone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. (Source: Associated Press)

+ Sign up to receive "Verse and Voice" - our daily quote and Bible verse e-mail

Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis


The U.S. Supreme Court: Health Care, Immigration, Juvenile Justice and More

Get a free trial issue of Sojourners Get a free issue of Sojourners
Donate to Support Sojourners
Donate to support
Sojourners

Today, in a long and complicated ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. This is an important victory for millions of uninsured people in our country and ultimately a triumph of the common good. Children, young adults, and families will have access to basic health care, adding security and stability to their lives.

While I believe the decision is reason to celebrate, it doesn’t mean that this legislation is somehow the flawless will of God; it is an important step in expanding health-care coverage and reducing long-term costs, but it still is not perfect and more work is yet to be done.

Many Christian organizations and people of faith were involved in advocating for expanded insurance coverage, specifically for low-income and vulnerable people. And that’s what we can never forget: Our involvement in the world of politics is always based in and motivated by the way that it affects the lives of real people, and especially poor people.

This last week, I’ve watched the endless political pre-coverage of the Supreme Court decision, and I was struck first by the poor quality of the questions being asked. Now that the decision has been made, the pontification is just as bad. We need to be focused on those who are left out and left behind, not who is up or down in politics and the polls.

The pundits ask: How will this affect the election? Who’s the political winner; who’s the loser? Republicans or Democrats, Obama or Romney? Is the Supreme Court too politicized or not enough? Who is protecting and who is destroying the reputation and dignity of the court? These are interesting political questions but not the fundamental questions for Christians to ask.

Our bottom line is different. We don’t start with politics, but rather with how these decisions affect real people. Here are our questions: How will the results of the decision today affect the people who still don’t have adequate and reasonably priced health care? What about the people still not covered under the Affordable Care Act? Will there still be those who are too poor to be healthy in America? How do we move from a mindset that views health care as merely a commodity and not a human right? These are the questions for Christians, not who wins and who loses the political debate.

Health care was not the only decision in this past week that will have an impact on the lives of many in this country. Here are a few short takes on other important decisions regarding immigration, juvenile justice, and money in politics:

Immigration: On Monday, the Court overturned most of SB 1070, Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law. Affirming that immigration policy is the purview of the federal government, the Court struck down state policies that attacked immigrants and sought to pre-empt federal laws. The Court did not rule on the morally troubling section, known as 2(B) or the “papers please” provision, saying they did not yet have enough information. 2(B) allows law enforcement to check the immigration status of individuals detained for non-immigration offenses, if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is undocumented. Faith leaders, civil rights activists, and many others are concerned this policy will lead to racial profiling and civil rights violations. Instead, the Court’s ruling indicated they may consider future cases challenging this section on civil rights grounds.

For comments from Monday's case CLICK HERE

Money in Politics: In the early 20th century, Montana had one of the most corrupt political systems in the United States. Corporate interests, particularly the copper mining industry, gave out huge amounts of money to have their candidates elected to state offices. This eventually led to a state law in 1912 prohibiting corporate contributions. Following the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, a case was brought in the Montana courts challenging the state law. The Montana Supreme Court upheld the existing law, citing the state’s history and experience.

On Monday, SCOTUS overturned that decision with a short, unsigned order that peremptorily concluded: “Montana’s arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case. … The judgment of the Supreme Court of Montana is reversed.” Like the rest of the country, Montana is now fair game for the millions of dollars being poured into this year’s elections by unaccountable Super PACs.

For more on money and politics CLICK HERE

Juvenile Justice: Nearly 2,000 inmates serving life in prison could be eligible to have their sentences adjusted based on a SCOTUS ruling made Monday. More than two dozen states had laws on the books allowing for mandatory life sentences for minors in the case of certain homicide convictions. In a 5-4 decision, the Court declared life without parole “cruel and unusual punishment” and unconstitutional under the Eighth amendment. Current inmates, some of whom have been imprisoned since as young as age 14, will now have the opportunity to appeal their sentences. This ruling was another step in line with a 2005 decision that rejected the death penalty for juveniles and a 2010 decision that ended the sentence of life without parole for juveniles who committed non-homicide offenses. Those are all good steps.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

E-mailE-mail this article to friends
FacebookShare this article on Facebook
CommentComment on this article on the God's Politics Blog


 ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG

+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
by Beau Underwood

While people will undoubtedly remain divided about the Affordable Care Act and today’s ruling, it does mean that millions of people will now have access to health insurance coverage and the overall  growth of spending on health care will be curtailed.

But It’s a Dry Hate: The Human Spirit of Arizona Will Not Be Broken
by Maryada Vallet

Arizona continues to lead the way in the border humanitarian crisis and with immigrant rights violations. As a humanitarian, ally, and advocate, I came to the migrant justice movement with the belief that the U.S. immigration system and border policies were merely broken, but I am convinced now that these violations of human dignity are the symptoms of systemic racism targeted at immigrants. The system is not broken, it is meant to break people.

Nursing Trauma: How One Church is Going After Chicago’s Violence Epidemic
by Rev. Julian “J.Kwest” DeShazier

This angry and dark world is traumatic for children, and they will grow up angry and dark unless we help them process what they have seen. Finding one's own voice is critical to meaning-making. Some of them are not soldiers, but they are all in the war.

Fear, Self-Centeredness and the Storm at Sea
by Nadia Bolz-Weber

God caring about us doesn't always end up looking like God doing for us what we think God should. Because sometimes the faithfulness of God actually looks like the fact that there is a better story than the way you want things to work out.

Men Can't Have It All, and Why They Never Did
by Sandi Villarreal

Maybe you can't "have it all." But why is that the question to begin with? Why does this topic of conversation perennially rear it's head to make women feel like they're not doing it right? And why is the question never asked of men?

For Nora Ephron
by Valerie Elverton Dixon

Nora Ephron brought us joy. She was a keen observer of the human condition, of living, growing older, and facing death with grace. She advised us not to postpone our joy.

Wild Goose Heaven Is Our Answer to Hate
by Frank Schaeffer

For me the highlight of the festival was the fact that there was no wall of separation between us speakers and performers and everyone there. I spent 4 days talking with lots of people from all over America and other places too, about ideas but also about very personal subjects.

More from Sojourners on Wild Goose:

 

 SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

+ Sign up to receive our "Daily Digest" e-mail - the latest headlines on critical issues

Top Stories:

No Clear Winner in Arizona Immigration Ruling
Deseret News
"The decision to strike down key provisions of this legislation is a victory for everyone in the faith community who seeks to follow the Bible's call for concern for the vulnerable and 'stranger' among us," said Rev. Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners."Arizona's immoral legislation threatened families, harmed children and made it difficult for law enforcement to safeguard the communities they swore to protect.

Why Are Evangelicals Supporting Immigration Reform?
The Washington Post
This statement, though, is a document of exceptional accord among groups that rarely find themselves on the same side of anything. The signatories are calling for comprehensive immigration reform that respects human dignity and the rule of law, protects family unity, is fair to taxpayers, and ensures both secure borders and a path to citizenship.

Barack Obama's Immigration Reform for Youth: A Dream Deferred?
The Huffington Post
It is "good news, which gives hope and a future for young immigrants," says the Reverend Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners. Meanwhile, Jose Antonio Vargas at Define American sees it as a "big, bold and necessary step in the road to citizenship," and calls upon his readers to thank Obama "for this principled and courageous act."

"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.

 

 
 

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!
 
 
 
  

Hundreds of evangelical leaders from across the theological and political spectrum have issued a call for a bipartisan solution to fix our broken immigration system. Sign your name in endorsing these principles.
 

Immigration - What do you think? Though most people living in the United States have immigrant ancestry, our nation's immigration policy has not welcomed strangers. Explore this topic with Sojourners downloadable study guide.
 

Over 3,000 verses in the Bible wake us up to issues of poverty and justice. With the Poverty and Justice Bible, now there's no missing them (they're highlighted in orange!). Visit our store to learn more.
 

Christians and Islam: Do we share more than we realize? This discussion guide looks at the shared history, theological similarities and differences, and hopes for social justice that both Christians and Muslims share. Download now.

 

  
 


Click Here!
 

GIVE TO SOJOURNERS: Donate now to support this voice for justice and peace.

GET THE MAGAZINE: Subscribe today

CONTACT US: General inquiries: sojourners@sojo.net | Advertising: advertising@sojo.net | About Us

PRIVACY NOTICE: Sojourners won't trade, sell, or give away your e-mail address. Read our privacy policy.