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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/26/22

The Supreme Court's Version of "Bonfire of the Vanities"

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Bonfire of Freedoms
Bonfire of Freedoms
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At the height of the Renaissance (1494-1498) in Florence, Italy, where the restoration of culture and the introduction of humanism were taking place, an extremist moral dictator, Catholic priest Girolamo Savonarola. and his cult of fanatics, declared war on civilization. In his "Bonfire of the Vanities." which included the burning of precious books and artworks, Savanarola sought to destroy all advances in culture and humanism with the goal of restoring the good old days of the Dark Ages.

Five centuries later, on June 24, 2022, at the height of the expansion of freedoms in the United States of America, the icon of democracy, a religious cult of four conservative Catholic Supreme Court Justices (Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett) and one conservative Justice who was raised Catholic but worships in an Episcopal Church (Neil Gorsuch) voted from their religious ideological perspective to declare war on freedom in overturning Roe V. Wade. Their ruling also violates the constitutional provision of separation of church and state

More egregious, Justice Clarence Thomas stepped outside the bounds of ruling on cases brought before the court and expressed his vision for extending the war to restrictions on other social advances. He invited more challenges to laws that protect freedoms, intending to reverse them. These challenges are based on his religious ideology. The New Republic called Thomas's actions "Throwing the Supreme Court's History Out the Window." Astonishingly, Thomas announced his judgments before hearing arguments. If his decisions were implemented by the Court they would help return America to its good old dark ages. And they would signal the Supreme Court's Bonfire of Freedoms, in the spirit of Savanarola.

Savonarola's reign of terror eventually proved too extreme for the Catholic Church. Pope Alexander VI excommunicated him on May 13, 1497. And a year later, on May 23, 1498, Church and civil authorities condemned, hanged, and burned Savanarola and two of his friars in the main square of Florence (Piazza Signoria).

Today's Catholic Church, led by Pope Francis, categorically opposes abortion under any circumstances. Yet, in opposition to that stance, according to a 2022 poll by the Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 64 percent of U.S. Catholics support legal abortion, which is comparable to the 65 percent of all adult Americans who support it. And President Joe Biden, a dedicated practicing Catholic, called the Supreme Court decision outrageous for overturning a 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion; he reiterated his staunch support for a woman's right to choose. Despite the will of the people, many states are preparing draconian anti-abortion laws that will criminalize abortions even in cases of incest, rape, and underage girls.

On June 30, 2022, the same cabal of extremist Supreme Court Justices plus one additional conservative judge, John Roberts, extended the war on freedoms to an assault on civilization as a whole. Just when scientists and governments are sounding alarms that we are on an accelerating path toward climate change catastrophes with carbon emissions rising globally, these Justices voted as a block in a 6-3 ruling to limit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's power to regulate carbon emissions from power plants--a decision that guarantees the further poisoning of the atmosphere and heating of the planet.

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Bernard Starr, PhD, is the author of The Crucifixion of Truth, a drama about historical antisemitism set in 16th-century Italy and Spain. Starr is a psychologist, journalist, and professor emeritus at CUNY, Brooklyn College. At Brooklyn College (more...)

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