Thanks to Republicans, We Now Have Two Dysfunctional Branches of Government

Today, the Supreme Court decided to not decide in the case of Zubik v. Burwell. Dahlia Lithwick gives us the scoop.

Zubik v. Burwell, the religious challenge to the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, could well have been this year’s Hobby Lobby—a fight to the death about whether religious employers could withhold certain contraception from employees based on the employers religious objections. But instead of ruling on the merits of the case, or breaking any new ground at all on the pitched battle between a woman’s right to seamless contraceptive coverage and the religious objections of her boss, the Supreme Court simply sent the case back to the lower courts Monday, with an unsigned order asking the courts of appeals to attempt to work it out, based on some extra briefing that parties did after the case was argued in March.

Two things seem pretty clear: (1) the current court was 4/4 on this case, and (2) if Justice Scalia were still alive, this case would have gone the wrong way for those who support women’s reproductive freedom.

But it’s also hard to miss the connection between the current deadlock in the Supreme Court and the ongoing dysfunction we’re witnessing in Congress. The former is a result of Republican’s refusal to even consider President Obama’s nominee to the high court and the latter is a due to their unwillingness to negotiate and compromise. That leaves us with only one functioning branch of the federal government – the executive. This is no way to run a democracy. And it’s also why elections matter.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.