“Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.”
Meanwhile, the Coronavirus beat goes on in D.C., with a steady trickle of more positive test results, especially from the White House. Trump was hospitalized for 4 days—springing himself for a brief ride in his armored car around the Walter Reed hospital last Saturday night, to the horror of the secret service and of doctors who know how dangerous that move was to himself and to those driving him around.
We’ve had virtually no news about anyone else’s health, which is perhaps as it should be, considering privacy issues. However, it’s unclear whether any responsible contact tracing is being done, either, so those who were unknowingly infected by Trump’s comings and goings could act accordingly to protect themselves and their families.
|Breathing hard, Trump staged a defiant, maskless return to the White House.|
Did Trump learn anything from the course of his disease thus far? Hard to say because he apparently talked his medical team into letting him go home to the White House and resume his “normal” work. So he strode into the White House and posed for photo opportunities on the south balcony, wheezing from the walk up the stairs. At some point in his return he tweeted at supporters that they “shouldn’t fear the virus” and shouldn’t “let it dominate your lives.”
Well, at least this time he’s practicing what he’s preached – he’s not fearing for anyone’s life except his own, as he receives the best medical care that money can buy, and he’s certainly not worrying about what his response to the virus is doing to others. For that matter, in the course of his hospital stay, he never mentioned the over 200,000 Americans who have died from a pandemic he’s been telling everyone to ignore. His own wife, not to mention 20-some people who have worked diligently for his interests every day, are sick with the virus. But no big thing?
Obviously, there are too many unanswered questions and too much reason for anxiety, especially for the hundreds of people who came into contact with Trump and/or infected members of his GOP audience in the Rose Garden this past September 26th when he announced his Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett. This began the mad dash to confirm her to the Court before the November election, of course, a process that may be upset or delayed due to COVID, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s best wrangling efforts.
I would never wish for a delay on these terms, but the fact that basically every human right we continue to enjoy in this nation (including to medical coverage, with the Affordable Care Act) is up for grabs with a potential Barrett confirmation, I won’t regret a delay, either. Better it would be on the basis of McConnell waking up and realizing what a thug he has been in regards to Supreme Court nominations in recent years, but those who feel strongly about this nomination will take whatever push back they can get.
|The Coney-Barrett family at the Rose Garden celebration. |
Reportedly, Judge Barrett was infected earlier in the summer with COVID and has since recovered, which puts her in a strong position to weather the infectious storm that may swirl around her confirmation process; however, Barrett’s children were also circulating in that ill-fated September gathering that celebrated their mother’s nomination—and no one was wearing masks. Barring the kids also being immune, what a potentially dangerous trade-off for the sake of supporting one man’s political image!
There’s no denying that Barrett has impressive legal and judicial credentials, but I wonder how any woman embraces an “originalist” stance on the Constitution when in its original form, the Constitution didn’t even allow women to vote! In a widely circulated article on this stance and its ramifications, Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman clarifies:
“Ms. Barrett is of the school of legal thought known as originalism, which emphasizes rigorous adherence to the text of the Constitution and the intentions of those who brought it into being. Among its adherents are Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and the late Antonin Scalia, for whom Judge Barrett clerked.
In its usual billing, this approach sounds unassailable. Who wants judges to ignore the words of the Constitution? Who wants judges to effectively legislate from the bench according to their own whims?
Even liberal justices and scholars give considerable weight to the literal text of the Constitution and what it meant at the time it was ratified. But strict fidelity to originalism is a bit like strict compliance with all traffic laws: more appealing in theory than in practice.
The attacks on ‘legislating from the bench’ go back to the 1950s, when the court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, banned racial segregation in public schools. William F. Buckley’s conservative magazine National Review called the decision ‘an act of judicial usurpation’ that ‘ran patently counter to the intent of the Constitution.’ In some respects, that was true, but it was also the right decision.
Mr. Warren was vilified on the right as long as he was on the bench. But where would we be without the Warren Court? Before it acted, as University of Chicago law professors Geoffrey Stone and David Strauss wrote in their book ‘Democracy and Equality,’ states were free to ban interracial marriage, impose poll taxes to disenfranchise African Americans, forbid the sale of contraceptives and violate the principle of ‘one person, one vote.’ Police didn’t have to inform suspects of their rights, and evidence acquired in illegal searches could be used in court.
Would conservatives really want to restore the unconscionable practices this liberal court ruled against? If so, they aren’t likely to admit it.”
I’m no constitutional scholar, but to my eye, shutting down the possibility of our Constitution evolving over time to suit the needs of contemporary society and relatedly—refusing to acknowledge that our founding fathers were fallible creatures of their own times who couldn’t have known what the needs of 21st century America would be—is exactly what Chapman titled it—a “malignant view of the Constitution.” That view serves very well-defined purposes, however, and Barrett hasn’t been shy about expressing what she’s after in her work:
“At Notre Dame, Barrett received the "Distinguished Professor of the Year" award three times. From 2011 to 2016, she spoke on constitutional law at Blackstone Legal Fellowship, a summer training program for Christian law school students that the Alliance Defending Freedom established for the stated purpose of inspiring "distinctly Christian worldview in every area of law."
This raises, of course, a whole raft of serious questions about what she will hope to pursue on the highest Court once confirmed. Do originalists not get that the First Amendment (1791) forbids the establishment of religion in the Federal government, a prohibition that was then extended to State governments under the 14th Amendment? Judging from all the “Put God back in Schools” political signs I’ve been seeing these days, I’d say this is a very live issue—a particularly difficult one to head off, but no less dangerous to our democracy. Christianity is only one of many religious affiliations (or non-affiliations) for Americans—one of several pressing reasons for not playing favorites—but the richly-supported conservative judges the GOP has been installing over the course of Trump’s administration are bringing a brand of conservative Christianity into our court system that seems quite at odds with Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution, especially the “Religious Test Clause.” Wikipedia.org explains:
“The No Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution is a clause within Article VI, Clause 3: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." This immediately follows a clause requiring all federal office holders to take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution [notice there’s no particular sacred tome prescribed for swearing this on]. This clause contains the only explicit reference to religion in the original seven articles of the U.S. Constitution.”
Of course, to prove that the big corporate/ideological lobbyists pushing the Senate to confirm conservative judges are using a religious test to determine whom they will push is likely impossible, but the ads and the narrative being spun by McConnell and the GOP members of the Judiciary Committee make sure that the lobbyists can use the issue of religion as a way of preventing the Committee from asking hard questions. Already the line of attack has become “it’s not appropriate to question Barrett about her religion” during the confirmation. Well, in fact, it’s already been put out there in the press that she’s okay with installing a religious perspective in government, so why should that issue be deemed off limits? The American people have a stake in knowing how fully she plans to bring her religious perspective into her work on the Court, but the lobbyists clearly don’t want her to have to answer such questions. From The Hill:
“Susan B. Anthony List, a group that backs pro-life judges and political candidates, plans to invest seven figures in support of Barrett's confirmation. The organization on Saturday announced a six-figure digital ad campaign that highlights her pro-life views.
‘We call on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to speak out forcefully against pending attacks on Judge Barrett’s Catholic faith, and we call on them to immediately release their Supreme Court candidate list.’”
Biden may be a Catholic, but this kung-fu move on the part of the lobbyists seems to aim to hold him and Kamala Harris responsible for protecting Barrett from any religion-based questions. In fact, the questions Committee Senators ask her don’t have to involve interrogating her religious principles. She is responsible for her viewpoints and her agenda as a judge—not the church she belongs to. She and her husband have two adopted black children--does that shield her from any questions regarding her attitudes toward race? If the GOP Committee members try to shield her from questions about the principles that will guide her decisions--whatever their source--isn't that clear obstruction?
Besides, as the letter by theologian Matthew Fox that I’ll leave you with at the end of this post shows so eloquently, what we know of Barrett’s record and views only very selectively reflect the teachings of the Catholic church. It’s actually more the case that her conservative views trample all over many principles at the core of Catholic teachings—the reason the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice has just issued its rejection of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination.
It’s difficult to interpret a nativity for a person whose coverage in the news has been scant until relatively recently, but Chart #1 below is a noon chart (no time known) for her publicly listed birth date of January 28, 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana. I will leave it up to others to seek out her biography; here, I’m more interested in teasing out how a person who would come to embrace her apparent mindset could have emerged during those tumultuous social times.
In 1972, the U.S. was still trying to extract itself from the Vietnam war; the Watergate and Middle East oil crises were on the horizon and the turmoil associated with the Civil Rights movement was still fresh, despite the considerable victory of the Voting Rights Act in 1965—an Act that was tragically undermined by the Supreme Court in 2013.
Importantly, for those not born with silver spoons in their mouths, the very early days of neoliberalist (globalized) capitalism had arrived by the 1970s, although we wouldn’t see the worst impacts of this unfolding empowerment of corporations over workers until the 80s and beyond. The Middle East oil crisis, of course, initiated decades of U.S. entanglement in that region’s politics and in wars that we have yet to put to rest.
In terms of key outer planetary cycles that Barrett was born into, the most dramatic and eye-catching in her chart is the Uranus-Pluto cycle that launched in 1965 (still in the new phase in 1972), which lends itself in her chart to a Uranus-Pluto (Libra) opposition to Chiron-Eris (conjunct in Aries). Here’s where things get interesting in terms of the shifting tone of the times Barrett grew up in.
Barrett grew up inLouisiana and attended a private liberal arts college in Tennessee before attending and graduating with honors from Notre Dame law school in Indiana. Her entire educational experience seems to have been limited to schools that embraced an ideologically conservative message.
|The so-called Moral Majority launched our tired culture wars in 1979. |
Uranus and Pluto were implicated in all of this, of course, but their energies landed with people in a deeply divisive, almost schizophrenic way: between 1965 and 1972, both points shifted from Virgo (opposite a Pisces Chiron) to Libra (opposite an Aries Chiron). The original, Civil Rights-focused turmoil of the Virgo cycle launch remained the backdrop, while the Libra shift supported an ideological backlash to the powerful forces calling for change at the time.
I’m not suggesting that a conservative perspective is all bad, but IMHO, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed for the sake of nostalgia or righteous indignation (“when I was young, we knew better”). The fact is, there are real power dynamics at stake in resisting much-needed change. Maintaining some traditions and promoting virtues and character in people can be quite positive—until this quest tries to strip legitimate, hard-won rights away from people for the sake of some power play—or even worse, financial gain, which is never too far out of focus with conservatism.
Rights like the right to vote. Like the right to expect protection from the police instead of
the opposite. Like the right to equal
treatment under the Law. Like the right to love whom we love and to call
the shots regarding our own reproductive health. Like the right to health care
access. I could go on…you get the idea. Nostalgia only takes us so far; we also
need to make progress as a society. One segment of the population's view of "morality," like the increasingly slippery principle of "religious freedom" (freedom to discriminate?) should not be allowed to rob others of their human rights.
So, let’s briefly consider Barrett’s noon chart (Chart #1). We have no time of birth for this nativity, unfortunately, so her angles, houses and exact Moon placement will remain unknown; the birth information we’ll be using here is listed on Wikipedia.org.
Chart #1. Amy Coney Barrett, January 28, 1972, 12 p.m. ST, New Orleans, LA. Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast, courtesy of Kepler 8.0 Cosmic Patterns software.
Sun-conjunct No. Node (Aquarius) sextile Neptune (Sagittarius). Considering the important role played by Aquarius ruler Uranus (Rx) in this chart, these sextiles signal an openness to the generational ideological forces at work at the time of her birth. Barrett’s father was apparently a lawyer for Shell Oil Co., which considering Louisiana’s strong ties to the oil industry, could have been a prominent job at that time. His wife (not named by Wikipedia) was a French teacher who grew up as daughter of a Catholic deacon, so it’s not surprising that she brought devout Catholicism to bear in her own family.
I have no idea which strain of Catholicism the Coneys embraced—the one that’s super-focused on dogmatic views regarding marriage and reproductive issues, or the one that’s more concerned about compassionate works and social justice issues (a more pleasant tradition, currently embraced by Pope Francis’s work), but perhaps Barrett being the eldest of seven children (and she being the mother of have seven children, as well) tells us something. We also know that during law school she lived in a home run by leaders of the extremely conservative People of Praise group in Indiana—a group she still claims to adhere to. I won’t hazard a guess about what that means for her now, but the article by The Guardian UK is worth a look—click here.
These aspects also make me wonder if she could have also absorbed her father’s focus on defending massive corporations along the way? It’s not inconceivable—her materially-oriented Saturn (Rx, Taurus, co-ruling her Aquarius Sun) opposed that ambitiously idealistic Neptune (Sagittarius). With Jupiter disposing this Neptune, any impulse to put ideology to ambitious, expansive use would find support. Interestingly, Barrett’s Uranus Rx/Pluto Rx ( Libra) squares her Mercury/Jupiter (midpoint, Capricorn)—such underlying cardinal energies often denote strong conservatism, not to mention a keen, disciplined mind and a determined will to power.
The strength of her cardinal energies is even more clearly on display in her Mars (Aries) opposite Uranus Rx (Libra). In this noon chart, we see a Cancer Moon that would, if it were accurate, turn this configuration into a pretty tight t-square. We can’t rely on the noon timing, however, but the Moon that day traveled between 10°+ - 23°+ degrees Cancer, so pretty much anywhere between that range would produce strong aspects with her Chiron-Eris and UranusRx/Pluto Rx midpoint and Venus (Pisces) on the low end, or her Mars and Uranus Rx on the higher end.
|Coney-Barrett family in less precarious times.|
We also shouldn’t overlook that her Moon and Mercury (Capricorn) could well be opposite—another signal that both her view of womanhood and parenting may be caught up in her (Capricorn-Taurus) conservative intellectual tendencies. This Mercury also squares her Mars (Aries) and trines her Taurus Saturn—I’m guessing she has a staunch work-ethic and ambition to match. I’m not sure I’d want to appear before her as a judge and expect much sympathy. Nor do I think her children have any cause to doubt what’s expected of them! On the plus side, her Pisces Venus could act to soften a potentially detached and hard-nosed airy Sun (Aquarius) nature (here Sun is co-ruled by Saturn and Uranus, both disposed by this Venus).
Barrett’s Venus (Pisces) also disposes her Pluto Rx-Uranus Rx-Juno (Libra) and trines her Jupiter/Neptune (midpoint, Sagittarius). This would accord with a somewhat fantastical, even shocking view of the role of women (there could also be a Venus-Moon trine here), a view that strangely goes along with her brand of conservatism. According to the Guardian article regarding her relationship with the People of Praise group I referenced earlier,
“Insider accounts by former members who are now critical of the organization suggest that the group has ‘well-developed courtship and marriage traditions’ which are closely followed. One critic, former member Adrian Reimers, has said in writings about his experience that people who are in the community do not usually date until the matter has been prayed upon by an individual’s ‘head’ – or spiritual leader – who helps make decisions about whether a couple ought to get married.”
It’s feasible, in fact, that a Pisces Venus could be influenced into surrendering to a Neptunian ideal or relationship (with Jupiter, likely to a “Zeus” type), if doing so felt like a more complete, all-consuming union. We can’t really judge such things from afar, however with Venus disposing and quincunxing her Uranus Rx/Pluto Rx (midpoint, Libra), we can pick up on a frustratingly “sacrificial” approach to relationships. This would be reinforced by Mars opposite Uranus Rx, with Uranus Rx disposing her Sun-No. Node and by Chiron-Eris (Aries) opposing her Uranus Rx/Pluto midpoint and possibly, t-squaring her Moon. Being the oldest of seven children can’t have been easy, but as often happens with Chiron, we project our wounds onto others or onto other areas of our life in an attempt to heal them.
Clearly, Barrett is motivated (Mars) to make a difference (Uranus Rx), and this is reinforced by her Uranian Aquarius No. Node. The question is, does the nation want what she’s offering? Also of concern: why do huge corporate lobbies want her on that Court so badly that they’re willing to spend millions and millions to make it happen?
|The Network Catholic Lobby has rejected Barrett's nomination. |
So what’s next?
Unless something truly outrageous happens, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be questioning Judge Barrett to determine her fitness for the Supreme Court on October 13th. Of course, we already know that the GOP side has made up its mind—they’ve already whipped the votes and know they have sufficient to pass her out of committee to the entire Senate. To vote “no” is unthinkable on that side; to vote “yes” is probably equally unthinkable on the Dems’ side. So the mystery is not whether she’ll be passed out of committee; the question is, will the committee hearing happen as planned? Two GOP Senators on that committee are currently quarantining with COVID, and we can’t really know what their status will be until closer to that date. On the other hand, the way things are going right now with COVID, who knows where we’ll be on the 13th? The prudent assumption is that she will be questioned by the Committee before the election.
So on that note, I will end with the following copy of what I think is a brilliant public letter written by spiritual theologian Matthew Fox to Barrett, in which he proposes a number of questions that Barrett should be asked if we are to really understand who this person is, and why she wants a life-time job on our highest court. For the sake of space, I’ve trimmed some longer paragraphs that seem to be mostly for embellishment. I’ve denoted these trims with ellipses (…).
|Spiritual theologian Matthew Fox|
“Dear Ms. Barrett,
With the nomination of a new supreme court judge, some are being accused of “anti-catholicism” for posing questions about your religious beliefs.* I however, think questions like the following are important and I am sure that you are open to discussing them with the American public whose job it is for you to serve.
1) Since you are a practicing Catholic, have you studied Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment (“Laudato Si”)? What are your positions on environmental justice? On climate change? Are you as passionate about them as you are about opposing abortion? Are you aware that climate change is currently killing more people (who are fully people) than are abortions killing fetuses? It has killed 200,000 people in the US alone and has maimed tens of thousands more and migrations to come will displace and kill millions more.
2) Have you studied Pope Francis’ statements on the “idolatry of money” that dominates so much of our economic system? Where do you stand on that subject and on unbridled Wall Street power? And on tax breaks for the very rich vs. for the poor and middle class? (Revelations on President Trump’s non-taxes being very relevant to the question.)
3) Where do you stand on the long-standing teaching of the right for unions to organize that are embedded in papal documents dating all the way back to Pope Leo XIII in the nineteenth century?
4) As for abortion, surely you know the distinction in Catholic philosophy between what makes good law and what makes good morality. They are not always the same. Since women are going to have abortions (and not all American women are Catholic, by the way), isn’t it preferable to make abortion as safe as possible than to make abortion go underground?
And, as a woman, do you believe it is preferable to turn decision-making about your sacred body over to zealous male law-makers? Why would you think that?...
5) Where do you stand on birth control? Doesn’t it seem that the swelling of the human population has much to do with rendering other species extinct, who lose their habitats because of human expansion? Is it wrong to render God’s creation extinct?...
Do you consider human population explosion a serious problem?
6) How can you, calling yourself a serious Christian (or just a fellow human being), seriously want to end health care for many millions of Americans?...
7) Does your version of Christianity support separating children from parents and locking them up in cages? (See Matthew 25.) And hiring a white supremacist as an adviser to the president with an office inside the White House?
8) Former US attorney Barb McQuade has informed Americans that in 2016 you argued against filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election time, specifically when it meant shifting the ideology of the justice bring replaced. (In this case, Justice Ruth Ginsburg). ‘When the court is seen as a political tool, it loses its legitimacy to announce the laws of the land.’ Do you still believe this? …
9) Saint Thomas Aquinas, doctor of the church, says that “a mistake about creation results in a mistake about God.” This is why he spent his whole life bringing the best scientist of his day (Aristotle) into the understanding of the Christian faith. The church made huge mistakes condemning science in the time of Copernicus and Galileo and we were promised, 500 years later by Pope John Paul II, that it wouldn’t happen again. And yet it has happened clearly in the discussion of gays and lesbians and their rights.
Over 50 years ago, scientists spoke up to inform us that any given human population will have an 8-11% gay population. Being gay is perfectly natural for gay people, though it is a sexual minority. Why, then, would any thoughtful Catholic deny gay and lesbians and transgender people their rights as human beings? (Including the right to marry, at least civilly?) Surely you do not want to succumb to old religious tropes that mistake God for a bad understanding of creation, do you?
10) Our constitution promises a separation of church and state. Since 80% of the American population is not Catholic but something else—Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, indigenous, atheist and more—you would not foist your particular religious beliefs on to all these others, would you?
11) Your religion is a bit odd. It is not Catholicism as such or Catholicism as the Pope practices it, for example, it is a mélange of Protestant and Catholics in a small charismatic community. Speaking anecdotally, in my interactions with charismatics over the years, I have hardly ever met one who considered the struggle for justice for the poor and oppressed as part of their religious consciousness. In fact, it was precisely the charismatic groups in South America who were financed to oppose and replace base communities and liberation theologies, while buttressing right wing political fanatics.
My question is this: What does the canonization of Saint Oscar Romero mean to you and your community? How does his struggle on behalf of the poor resonate with your version of Christianity?
12) Does the ecumenism which you practice in your small charismatic sect extend to other religions and will you respect them and their values in all your court decisions? Rights of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Native Americans, Atheists, and others?
Does your ecumenism also extend to members of the Roman Catholic Church who do not share your ideology including presidential candidate Joe Biden? House minority leader Nancy Pelosi? Supreme Court judge Sonia Sotomayor? And many other public figures? Will you come to their defense when certain noisy media pundits accuse Democrats of being “anti-Catholic”?
13) Do the recent revelations of how we ordinary and modest citizens pay far more taxes than millionaire presidents and also how vast international corporations pay no taxes and how the 2017 tax “reform” let many billionaires reduce their taxes affect your religious sensibilities about justice for the poor?
And does a promise that ours is a government “of the people, by the people and for the people?” correspond to the kind of economic system that is currently running our country? How do you put into practice Pope Francis’ warnings about Wall Street and the idolatry of money?
Thank you for your attention to these questions.
Much more to come on this critical nomination process – stay tuned!
Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years; see the Publication link on the home page for her two most recent publications, now available as e-books on Amazon.
For information about individual chart readings, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Raye Robertson 2020. All rights reserved.