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The Supremes Do Everybody Dance, Now!

attachment to irrelevant dogma makes it easier, but not as easy as bending to political winds

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.

For a while, the Supreme Court was composed entirely of White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants. In the early 19th century, to add a sense of drama and exoticism to a pretty boring bunch, over all, a Catholic judge, Roger Taney, was nominated and became Chief Justice, dying just before the end of the Civil War. Taney was undeniably brilliant and from Maryland, a border state.

Taney is hard to justly value now. He wrote the notorious Dred Scott decision, put in motion when Scott tried to buy his freedom from the widow of his lenient Mississippi slave master. The widow refused and Scott......took her to court with money and help from abolitionists. During the early procedures leading to the Supreme Court, said widow married Calvin Chaffee, a Northern abolitionist. After which the James Carville - Mary Matelin marriage makes somewhat more sense.

He knew she owned slaves, and was instrumental in changing her values before and after he was elected to Congress but discovered too late she owned Dred Scott himself, whose case was in the papers. Apparently, she didn't feel the need to inform her new husband or she didn't get the importance. Taney, who wrote the Scott decision - you'd think subject to conversation in the Chaffee household - said that blacks had no rights a white man was required to respect. Not his opinion of blacks, but his accurate opinion of how many others saw blacks. And given the three fifths value in the Constitution, he wasn't wrong.

But Roger Taney had emancipated his own slaves and given pensions to those who too old to work. That's Emancipation and Social Security well before the Civil War. He was never wealthy, and could have sold them. When, in 1819, he defended a Methodist minister indicted for inciting slave insurrections, Taney stated slavery was "a blot on our national character." But Taney strictly obeyed the precedent that slaves were property because our Golden Scroll so said. He became the hate focus of abolitionists, and of Lincoln, elected by condemning Taney, who inspired financial support to abolitionist politicians.

Taney was merely a strict constructionist before the term arose, not unlike fellow Catholic Justices Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Roberts today, but not like Catholics Sotamayor and Kennedy. It's possible he perhaps used the N word. But unlike Paula Deen, condemned by her private utterances and work environment, Taney is condemned for public adherence to strict construction while his private dealings are rather impressive for the time.

That he is as complicated as Sir Thomas Moore is rooted, I think, in their Catholic faith. When you think about it, being a committed Catholic makes it easier to favor mere precedent and authoritarianism, given the Church is devoted to dogma and tradition even when in conflict with professed values. Priest chastity and a carefully inflicted institutional misogyny has resulted in the now officially outed Vatican gay lobby by the Pope himself.

This week, a genuine horror swept the Vatican bureaucracy, the Curia. The Argentinian Pope ordered up a complete review of the Vatican Bank. He sounds dead serious, and it is said many in the Vatican actually look scared, a facial composition that doesn't appear on those Church officials who, if their faith is true, are surely going to Hell. There has been no fear in the eyes of the rapists, pedophiles, and their enablers whom the Vatican calls to Rome for protection.

The Church's original stance with scandal starts as playing victim. As with rape, so with theft. When a 19th century financial venture collapsed while Rothschild's prospered, the Church played the anti-Semite card, implying conspiracy and cultural treason - much as Germany did after 1918. This allowed believers to think the Church a victim and not, as evidence showed, a greedy and incompetent Mafia enabling, fascist coddling, Hitler fluffing entity that put its own wealth and power first.

Only thirty years ago, a huge scandal damned the Vatican when Italy's second largest bank, in which the Vatican bank was the major stockholder, collapsed. Various involved folks died in ways to resemble suicide, the most famous found hanging from Blackfriar's Bridge in London. The bank had laundered Mafia money and drug money from all over the world. This apparently has never stopped.

Because Pope Francis moved on this in a manner not indicative of a formal cover up, and because the Vatican bank's big wigs have resigned or been removed of late, this will be a genuine horror. Of course, the Church's century old enabling and protection of priests who raped disabled children, among others, is the varsity scandal.

Probably aided by official admission of the Vatican gay lobby and understanding of the political power of the gay lobby here, the Supremes just scrapped DOMA, bending to the wind. The four distinctly Catholic male conservatives dissented.