Lawyers, Physicians, and Some Common Sense….Please

The Roberts Court, April 23, 2021 .Seated from left to right: Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor .Standing from left to right: Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. .Photograph by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided to support New York’s vaccine mandate in a 6 – 3 decision. More specifically, they declined to permit ‘religious exemptions’, permitting only the medical exemptions to stand. Justice Neil Gorusch decried the decision in a 14 page dissent, citing religious liberty as a cornerstone of our rights:

The Free Exercise Clause protects not only the right to hold unpopular religious beliefs inwardly and secretly. It protects the right to live out those beliefs publicly in ‘the performance of (or abstention from) physical acts

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas joined in the dissent. Newer ‘conservative’ Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – of both, I have had deep suspicions -denied the exemptions, joining the majority in supporting the mandates, without deigning to offer their reasons. Need they? Perhaps they think we could not grasp their ethereal thoughts. Or perhaps it seemed obvious to them. Regardless, rule by the fiat of unelected judges in a supposed republic is certainly odd.

I would have gone further than Gorusch. Like abortion, the mandates are not a specifically religious question, but one of natural law, expressed in our civic constitutional rights, to refuse medical treatment, especially ones that have some risk of significant harm to the recipient, without proportionate good. And, at a more basic level, to resist governmental overreach, and maintain habeas corpus, the autonomy of our persons.

I wonder whither this will lead in their future decision on Roe v. Wade. There are ominous signs. In the hearing on the first of December, Justice Barret made some odd comments comparing vaxx mandates and pregnancy, and we may have more to say on that. And their avoidance of the simple fact of the humanity and personhood of the unborn child was an elephant-sized lacuna in the chamber.

Imagine such a baby within earshot, by miracle given the gift of understanding, and trying to yell out: ‘Guys – yeah, it’s me!  I just thought I’d interject here, as an amicus curiae – I’m right here! A person, no matter how small, unseen and unheard, I know…but, hey, my life is on the line!’

Oh, for some clear and direct Thomistic thinking amongst our benighted lawyerly class! Instead, they lead us down labyrinthine pathways of penumbras and emanations, of precedents and fine points, straining an gnats while swallowing camels. After all, the thought of Saint Thomas – called the ‘Common Doctor’ – is just sanctified common sense, which Christ had previously sanctified and elevated, and offered to the common people.

You still might find some – common sense, that is – even amongst the ‘elites’, most of whom seem to be falling – no, make that leaping – off the proverbial cliffs of insanity. Dr. Stephen Karp in this brief reflection recounts how he’s trying to remain sane in an increasingly unhinged medical profession. And they wonder why people don’t trust them?

Return to the sources, dear reader – Scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the saints, the Magisterium – to keep one’s mind on the path of truth. I will hopefully say more on our good Dominican friend in a podcast later on.

‘Til then, a blessed mid-Advent day to one and all +