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Unanimously, the conservatives think government prayer is fine while a government insurance mandate threatens basic freedoms. Meanwhile, the liberals, unanimously, have no problem with the government mandate but see a town meeting prayer as tyrannical.
It should be noted that the conservative majority was at pains to insist that both these rulings have limited consequences in other situations. Nothing in them, they wrote, would broadly authorize prayer in government proceedings or allow employers to, say, discriminate on religious grounds.
But the somewhat inscrutable logic of both Supreme Court camps — at least, when these rulings are set side by side — is unsettling.
No doubt most Americans have mainly gut reactions to disputes of this kind, and only later go looking for logical reasons (for just the right strike zone) to justify their conclusions.
But judges are supposed to be doing something different — something more disciplined and dispassionate, something less about taking sides.
It’s why we trust them to wield the awesome power they do.
D.J. Tice is at email@example.com.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.