Vital Signs

Dare to Be a Daniela

In early July, the United States Supreme Court, acting on a plea brought by two unidentified families, one Mormon and one Roman Catholic, ruled the practice of prayer at high-school football games unconstitutional (Santa Fe School District v. Jane Doe). Although the prayer was delivered by a girl designated by her fellow students, Justice John Paul Stevens, author of the majority opinion, declared that praying might make some people feel excluded and, therefore, is not permissible. Like Nebraska v. Carhart only days later, the prayer decision is a stunning example of the way in which our "eminent tribunal," has arrogated to itself supreme authority. The Court seems to believe that, once a five-member majority has been formed, there is no power in heaven or on earth that can challenge it.

In Carhart, a five-to-four majority ruled that a Nebraska law banning "partial-birth" abortion is unconstitutional. Although Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in a concurring opinion that a better- written law might meet "my standard of constitutionality," those very words, "my standard," confirm that one justice is making herself the measure by which the lives of more than one-quarter billion people are to be ruled.

Carhart casts a sharp light on the way that the Supreme Court has begun to treat the Constitution as it it were the inspired Word of God and to...

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