Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Supreme Court Upholds ObamaCare

Signe Wilkinson for the Philadelphia Daily News published on June 29th, 2015, depicts two men rushing an injured and well-dressed elephant in a suit to an ambulance labeled “OBAMA CARE”.
Signe Wilkinson for the Philadelphia Daily News published on June 29th, 2015, depicts two men rushing an injured and well-dressed elephant in a suit to an ambulance labeled “OBAMA CARE”.

The political cartoon, Supreme Court Upholds ObamaCare, by Signe Wilkinson for the Philadelphia Daily News published on June 29th, 2015, depicts two men rushing an injured and well-dressed elephant in a suit to an ambulance labeled “OBAMA CARE”. One of the men can be seen to be carrying a gavel and wearing a robe, indicating he is a judge. The latter is seen wearing a suit and tie and can easily be identified as the current president at the time the cartoon was published, President Barack Obama. The judge in this scenario is a cartoon representation of the Chief of Justice of the time, John Roberts. The unconscious elephant being carried in the stretcher is representative of the Republican party, as the elephant is the symbol most associated with the Republicans. Wilkinson’s cartoon demonstrates the struggles ObamaCare faced against the Republican Party and the eventual defeat the Republicans experienced once the Act was ruled constitutional on more than one occasion despite the Republican Party’s efforts to repeal it at its inception.

The question of whether the United States should have a universal health-care system can be traced back to Harry S. Truman’s presidency in the mid 1940s. Truman proposed the idea of a universal healthcare system as he felt that it was an aspect that was not covered by the previous president, Franklin D Roosevelt, in his progressive New Deal legislation (Taylor). It was reintroduced in the early twentieth century and was revisited in the early 1990s during Bill Clinton’s first term as president. Claiming that it was one of his greatest goals, Clinton worked towards a health-care system, but was unable to obtain sufficient support to do so in his years as president. However, in the late 2000s, President Barack Obama built his presidential campaign to feature a health-care reform as its top priority. Elected as president in 2008 at a time when Democrats “controlled both houses of Congress,” Obama was successful at being able to gather the support needed in order to pass a health-care reform (“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”).

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare, was drafted with the purpose of providing Americans with better healthcare opportunities. Complete with a “Patient Bill of Rights,” the Affordable Care Act works to protect patients from mistreatment at the hands of insurance companies. According to the Act, insurance companies can no longer deny a patient coverage due to preexisting conditions. Additionally, patients are now given the right to protest and request to appeal a coverage decision made by an insurance company if the patient believes it to be unjust. In order to make healthcare more accessible to the American public, a government website, Healthcare.gov, was made in 2014 to allow people to browse and pick from different insurance plans coverages that would be accommodating to their needs and income. With the implementation of these sections of ObamaCare, the Obama Administration and Democrats alike hoped to bring affordable healthcare coverage to those that were in need and could not afford it beforehand (“Affordable Care Act”).

Although the Democratic Party held more seats in Congress than the Republicans, they were met with strict opposition from Republicans, who agreed a health-care reform was necessary as the Republican candidate who ran against Obama in 2008, John McCain, also ran a campaign with a focus on health-care reform, but disagreed with Obama’s Affordable Care Act. There was much debate between the two parties as they could not reach an agreement when Obama called for the Democrats to unite and pass the law quickly. The debate in the Senate was so extreme they met on Christmas Eve in efforts to pass the bill for the first time since 1895 (“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”). Obama successfully signed the Act as public law in March of 2010. However, the Republicans refused to admit defeat.

As soon as the act was passed, Republicans vowed to repeal it. Organizations and citizens called for the Supreme Court to review it, as they challenged the constitutionality of the act. The Court agreed to review the Act in 2011 and ruled most of the Act constitutional except for a provision that called for Medicare expansion (“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”). In the following years up to 2016, ObamaCare was revised and saw over fifty repeal attempts by the house and the senate before it was taken to the Supreme Court for the last time in 2015 in the King v. Burwell case (“Supreme Court ObamaCare”). However, according to an msnbc article written by Steve Benen, the case saw even more attempts after the King v. Burwell case and saw upwards of 60 repeal attempts by February of 2016.

The Chief of the Justice, John Roberts, was the one to deliver the 6 to 3 decision of the Court on June 25th, 2015. Roberts “soberly” revealed that he was with the majority opinion in ruling the case constitutional (Vogue and Diamond). Roberts’ siding with the liberal wing of the court and swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy surprised and angered conservatives for a second time since the first case in 2011 as he was a justice who was known for his conservative views as he was appointed to the Court by Republican President George W. Bush following the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2003 before becoming the Chief of Justice in 2005. Roberts had supported the constitutionality of ObamaCare the times it reached the Supreme Court, which angered most Republicans that sided with him on most issues (“John Roberts Biography”). This is ultimately what Wilkinson is poking fun at in his political cartoon as President Obama and John Roberts rush the Republican Party elephant into an ambulance labeled ObamaCare.

The opposition the Obama Administration met in their efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act can be compared to the opposition Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) was up against when he fought to pass his New Deal legislations in an effort to mobilize the U.S. economy after The Great Depression of the 1930s. When Roosevelt took office in 1933, his administration spared no time in beginning to draft and implement laws that would benefit the economy. However, a great portion of Roosevelt’s New Deal was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on multiple occasions. FDR struggled to find ways to get the government involved in ways that were constitutional in the Court’s eyes, and was a battle he fought throughout his entire presidency. At one point, Roosevelt even tried to change the rules and regulations surrounding the tenure given to justices. The central idea around democracy is the existence and allowance for checks and balances between the different branches of government, ensuring that the constitution is upheld, but can also be a cause for conflict as it was in these two situations.

The injured elephant in Wilkinson’s cartoon represents the Republican Party’s failed attempts at striking down the Act, and the sense of betrayal Republicans felt in hearing Roberts’ verdict. Wilkinson’s mockery of the situation is extended through the use of irony in the cartoon as the Republican elephant is seen being carried into the ambulance that represents the exact Act they fought against incessantly in the years since its inception. Ultimately, the political cartoon is a satirical representation of the struggles experienced on both sides of the ACA battle of the late 2000s and early 2010s.

“Affordable Care Act.” Health and Wellness, edited by Miranda Herbert Ferrara and Michele P. LaMeau, Gale, 2015, pp. 213-218. Life and Career Skills Series Vol. 3. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX3626900053&asid=a839c32d69a3950087068d49ee305873. Accessed 16 Nov. 2016.

 

Benen, Steve. “On Groundhog Day, Republicans Vote to Repeal ObamaCare.” The Maddow Blog. Web. Accessed 20 Nov. 2016, http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/groundhog-day-republicans-vote-repeal-obamacare

 

“John Roberts Biography.” Biography.com Editors. Accessed 14 Nov. 2016, http://www.biography.com/people/john-roberts-20681147

 

“King v. Burwell 576 U.S. ___ (2015).” supreme.justia.com, Accessed 15 Nov. 2016, https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/576/14-114/

 

“Supreme Court ObamaCare | Ruling on ObamaCare.” obamacarefacts.com, Accessed 16 Nov. 2016, http://obamacarefacts.com/supreme-court-obamacare/

 

Taylor, Jerry W. “A Brief History on the Road to Healthcare Reform: From Truman to Obama.” beckershospitalreview.com, Web. Accessed 20 Nov. 2016, http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/news-analysis/a-brief-history-on-the-road-to-healthcare-reform-from-truman-to-obama.html

 

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, edited by Donna Batten, 3rd ed., vol. 2: Health Care to Travel, Gale, 2013, pp. 877-880. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX2760300181&asid=2479ea0abb5dd9387b350cefa7289042. Accessed 16 Nov. 2016.

 

Vogue, Ariane de and Diamond, Jeremy. “Supreme Court Saves ObamaCare.” CNN. 25 June 15. Web. Accessed 16 Nov. 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/25/politics/supreme-court-ruling-obamacare/

 

Look!

Cartoonist John Knott illustrates the power struggle between Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and the United States Supreme Court regarding the implementation of the New Deal.
Cartoonist John Knott illustrates the power struggle between Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and the United States Supreme Court regarding the implementation of the New Deal.

John Francis Knott’s political cartoon titled, “Look!” published on Wednesday, March 31st, 1937, depicts eight anthropomorphized scrolls outside of a building labeled “Supreme Court”. All eight scrolls are seen outside this building, however, three are walking out of the building with a smile on their faces and a big “OK” stamped on their sides, whereas the other five, battered and bruised, incredulously peer up from the side of the stairs. Each of these scrolls, made to look like people, are labeled. Among the injured scrolls, the words “NRA”, “AAA”, and “Guffey Act”, with the others reading: “RR. Labor Act”, “Frazier-Lemke Act”, and “Minimum Wage Law” (Knott 2). In his political cartoon, John Knott is depicting some of FDR’s New Deal acts and administrations that were ruled unconstitutional in contrast to others that were upheld. The cartoon also illustrates the power struggle between Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and the United States Supreme Court regarding the implementation of the New Deal. The cartoon indexes to the dynamic between the Supreme Court, FDR, and his attempts at court-packing by increasing the number of justices in the Supreme Court that would sway the balance of opinion (“Court Packing Plan”).

The accompanying editorial, “The Court Decides,” provides background information and context for the cartoon in regards to the decisions made by the Court the previous Monday, March 29th, 1937. It explains how the Supreme Court had been reviewing cases involving the New Deal and had actually sustained and upheld over 60% of the New Deal legislation, contrary to the popular belief that it had struck down most of the laws and acts of FDR’s national recovery plan. It further describes the American public’s trust in the Court and the Court’s dedication to “interpret the Constitution as it stands” as they “do not have their ears to the ground, they keep their feet on it.” (“The Court Decides” 2).

As a result of the Wall Street stock market crash on October 24th, 1929 and widespread panic that ensued, The Great Depression of the 1930s was an economic breakdown that began in the U.S. and ultimately led to a worldwide economic collapse. It is the most severe depression of the Western world to date. The United States alone suffered a 30 percent decline in real gross domestic product and unemployment rate was at around 20 percent at its highest point. The American public was desperate for work and the American spirit was at an all-time low (Romer and Pells).

Upon becoming the 32nd president of the United States in the midst of the Depression in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt did not hesitate to begin working towards nationwide recovery. The United States was in shambles and needed political and economic reform as most of the nation’s banks came to a close, industrial production plummeted, and as many as 15 million people were unemployed. Roosevelt was burdened with responsibilities as he had been elected president to solve the worst economic problem in the history of the United States (“The Great Depression and World War II (1929–1945)”). In his first 100 days in office, known as his great productive opening period, FDR worked with the new democratic congress to enact bills that would begin to stimulate the economy and increase public confidence (Freidel and Sidey). With his New Deal legislation, Roosevelt hoped to put an end to deflation, lighten lower-income group debt, and provide employment to those who had become unemployed as a result of the depression (Dickinson). However, the Supreme Court ultimately stepped in between 1935 and 1936 and struck down eleven pieces of New Deal legislation, explaining that they violated the separation of powers and intruded on states’ reserved powers (“The Great Depression and World War II (1929–1945)”).

These decisions made by the Supreme Court are ultimately what John Knott is referring to in his political cartoon. The three pieces of legislation depicted on the side of the steps of the Supreme Court building in the cartoon, battered and bruised, are the NRA (National Recovery Administration), AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Act), and Guffey Act. The National Recovery Administration or NRA, was a government agency established to work to implement codes promoting fair-practices. The NRA was an element of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of June 1933 that was intended to work to eliminate unfair trade practices and reduce unemployment. The agency established codes that affected around 22 million workers across several workforces, but came to an abrupt end in 1935 when the Supreme Court invalidated it when ruling it unconstitutional beginning with a specific provision dealing with petroleum industry regulations, but ultimately coming to the conclusion to invalidate the entire act and administration, stating that the NIRA “unconstitutionally extended the power of Congress to regulate commerce among the states to intrastate commercial transactions-that is, business dealings occurring entirely within the boundaries of a state” (Brand).

The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933 was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. A prominent feature of the New Deal alongside the NRA, the AAA aimed to aid the agriculture industry by restoring purchasing powers to farmers, as they had experienced before World War I. The act was “designed to restore parity prices for ‘basic agricultural commodities’—initially defined as wheat, cotton, corn, hogs, rice, tobacco, and milk—by reducing supplies in artificial scarcity. Benefit payments would compensate participating farmers who agreed to curb acreage or kill excess livestock” (Chen). This was made possible through a tax levied on processors of agricultural commodities. This tax increased commodity prices by reducing supplies and enhanced famers’ purchasing power, but faced invalidation as the Court stated that it, like the NRA, intruded on the reserved rights of the states to regulate production. The Court used the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution in their argument as it states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” “Assuming that Congress could not directly compel farmers to reduce acreage or cull livestock” (Chen). However, the AAA was rewritten in 1938 and upheld by the Court in Mulford v. Smith in 1939.

The last of the unconstitutional acts portrayed in the cartoon is The Guffey Act of 1935. Originally named The Bituminous Coal Conservation Act, the Guffey Act was named after its sponsor, Joseph Guffey, a Senator from Pennsylvania, and was passed by congress to regulate and bring stability to the coal industry. The act outlined a minimum price for coal and protected the rights of those who worked for the industry. Additionally, this act worked to established wages and improve working conditions as coal mining had a reputation of being a “sick” industry with frequent worker strikes due to unhealthy and dangerous working conditions. However, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional in 1936 as it interfered with private commerce, similar to the NRA and AAA (O’Neal).

Although many of FDR’s New Deal policies fell under the jurisdiction of the Court and bankers and businessmen turned more and more against his New Deal programs, fearing the way he allowed for deficits in the budget, he was re-elected by a large margin in 1936 (Freidel and Sidey). Because of the problems his New Deal legislation faced in the eyes of the Supreme Court, when re-elected, Roosevelt proposed a new plan to change the Supreme Court. His plan, later known as “Court-Packing” proposed that “for every judge over seventy who did not retire (there were five) the president could appoint an additional justice” (“FDR’s Supreme Court”) Roosevelt claimed the purpose in his proposition to be to expedite the Court’s work, but many believed it was an attempt to place justices that would support his programs. He was met with a heated debate and suffered a loss in credibility in the eyes of the public as they had supported the New Deal, but did not agree with the idea of interfering with the Supreme Court.

Although Roosevelt’s New Deal had suffered a lot by the hands of the Court’s rulings, there were some acts that remained as they were constitutional. The acts Knott decided to include in his cartoon are the R.R. (Railroad/Railway) Labor Act, Frazier-Lemke Act, and the Minimum Wage Law.

The Railway Labor Act (RLA) was a very important piece of labor legislation implemented prior to FDR’s New Deal; however, it was amended in both 1934 and 1936 during President Roosevelt’s first term, and later in 1951 and 1966. The act secured the rights of railway workers and employers in light of numerous strikes that began happening in the late nineteenth century. The1934 amendment to the act addressed concerns of railway workers and unions. Criminal penalties were introduced “in the case of violation of the act’s provisions related to collective bargaining” (McCartin). It allowed for workers to choose their collective bargaining representatives and also created the National Railroad Adjustment Board (NRAB), a board of 34 members that equally represented carriers and unions that corresponded with disputes before they advanced to the National Mediation Board. The amendment of 1936 extended the act to apply to common air carriers of both interstate and foreign commerce as well as transporters of the U.S. mail (McCartin). The decision the Court made on Monday, March 29th, 1937, sought to avoid interstate commerce from being interrupted as a result of strikes and disputes between employers and workers that concerned wages or working conditions on the railroads. It upheld and promoted the practice of collective bargaining in which negotiation could be held between an employer and a labor union as it was a “declaration of public interest and policy”.

The Frazier-Lemke Act, also known as the Farm Bankruptcy Act, was named after its sponsors: North Dakota Senator Lynn Frazier and North Dakota Representative William Lemke. It was passed by congress in 1934 as part of FDR’s First New Deal, its purpose was to restrict banks as they began to repossess farms that faced hardship during the Great Depression. This act allowed the federal courts to lower a farmer’s debt to a level proportional to the existing value of his property. They, under certain conditions, could give these farmers a three year stay of foreclosure in which they did not have to begin debt repayment right away. This law was sustained by the Supreme Court on March 29th, 1937 as it was an amended version that secured creditors’ property rights (Bonner and Eriksson).

The Minimum Wage Law referred to in the editorial explicitly claims that it regarded women. In making this reference, one can conclude that Knott’s political cartoon refers to the Court’s decision on West Coast Hotel Company v. Parrish made that previous Monday. The court case involved the West Coast Hotel Company and Elsie Parrish, a maid who worked at the Cascadian Hotel in Wenatchee, Washington. Parrish sued the company due to a discrepancy in her pay and the decision the Court made was in her favor as the Court concluded that the state had an authority to interfere in labor contracts if it “appeared that the parties were not equal in bargaining power or where the failure to intervene would endanger public health” (Goble). The Court argued that in denying a woman a living wage was a danger to their health and community, and subsequently warranted the enactment of a minimum wage law for them.

Look! is a political cartoon by John Knott published in the Dallas Morning News that illustrated the constitutionality of different acts of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. As FDR worked tirelessly to implement legislation for the betterment of the American economic system, he was faced with continual backlash from the Supreme Court in terms of unconstitutionality in regards to some of his acts. Knott’s use of portraying the individual acts as men dressed up as scrolls that have either been approved or kicked ‘to the curb’ can show how the “majority of conservative America” had the “utmost confidence” in the Supreme Court’s ruthlessness and dedication to uphold the constitution as well as the continuing power struggle experienced between the Courts and FDR (“The Court Decides” 2).

Bonner, Jeremy, and Erik McKinley Eriksson. “Frazier-Lemke Farm Bankruptcy Act.” Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 3, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003, p. 457. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX3401801593&asid=cbc7cb890562d387a1b7746b03d7d431. Accessed 14 Nov. 2016.

 

Brand, Donald R. “National Recovery Administration.” Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History. Ed. Robert H. Zieger. Vol. 5: Prosperity, Depression, and War, 1921 to 1945. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2010. 247-251. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

 

Chen, Jim. “Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933).” Major Acts of Congress. Ed. Brian K. Landsberg. Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 9-13. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

 

“Collective Bargaining.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

 

“Court-Packing Plan.” The Encyclopedia of Civil Liberties in America. Ed. David Schultz and John R. Vile. Vol. 1. Armonk, NY: Sharpe Reference, 2005. 244-246. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.

 

Dickinson, M.J. (1996) ‘Creating the resource gap: Bargaining costs and the First New Deal, 1933–5’, in Bitter Harvest: FDR, Presidential Power and the Growth of the Presidential Branch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 45–85.

 

“FDR’s Supreme Court: How did the Supreme Court Weather the Attempt by Franklin D. Roosevelt to Increase the Number of Justices in Response to Its Rescinding New Deal Legislation?” History in Dispute. Ed. Robert J. Allison. Vol. 3: American Social and Political Movements, 1900-1945: Pursuit of Progress. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. 24-31. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.

 

Freidel, Frank and Sidey, Hugh “The Presidents of the United States of America,” Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association. Web. 16 Oct. 2016. https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/franklindroosevelt

 

Goble, George W. “West Coast Hotel Company v. Parrish.” Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 8, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003, p. 445. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX3401804515&asid=9a8e9208da11f626b34fcb4d75776ce2. Accessed 15 Nov. 2016.

 

McCartin, Joseph A. “Railway Labor Act.” St. James Encyclopedia of Labor History Worldwide, edited by Neil Schlager, vol. 2, St. James Press, 2004, pp. 166-171. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

 

“National Recovery Administration (NRA)”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.

 

O’Neal, Michael J. “Guffey Act.” St. James Encyclopedia of Labor History Worldwide. Ed. Neil Schlager. Vol. 1. Detroit: St. James Press, 2004. 407-410. Gale Virtual ReferenceLibrary. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

 

Romer, Christina D. and Pells, Richard H.”Great Depression”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 08 Nov. 2016 <https://www.britannica.com/event/Great-Depression>.

 

“The Great Depression and World War II (1929–1945).” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. History: Government and Politics, vol. 2, Gale, 2008. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX3048400016&asid=591a52c4bb42666249bf026343a3ecd3. Accessed 20 Nov. 2016.

 

“Virginian Railway Co. v. Railway Employees 300 U.S. 515 (1937).” supreme.justia.com, 15 Nov. 2016, https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/300/515/

Same-Sex Marriage

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Individual rights have always a hard thing to define. Things like property rights are defended time and time again by the judicial system, but many substances remain banned for recreational use. In more recent news, same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide in the United States(Liptak), even though many states had banned it. As recently as 2012, less than a fifth of states had legalized same-sex marriage. This landmark case had a lot of people asking why same-sex marriage was banned anywhere in the first place. The cartoon above seeks to use recognizable symbols of justice and liberty to reflect on the now-obvious solution of letting an individual marry whoever they want.

Many conservative and religious groups were outraged by this decision. The argument that same-sex marriage should be illegal is a more complex one than may seem obvious. Many opponents clung to the bible(Blinder and Pena), quoting the book of Leviticus as declaring homosexuality as a sin. But for those with a more subtle complaint, it would seem that the threat they experienced was over the definition of the term “marriage.” Some opponents of same-sex marriage argued that if homosexuals could be married, then their marriage would be somehow cheapened. The idea there being that a marriage means less the less exclusive it is, almost like a club. Ultimately, however, the Supreme Court sided with the people who believed any consenting adults who were in love could be married.

The symbols contained in this cartoon seek to convey the degree to which the author deemed this solution obvious. The first way this is done is through the use of an ancient symbol, Lady Justice. Since ancient times, Lady Justice has been portrayed as a blindfolded woman holding scales. This represents an idea that goes back nearly as far as civilized human society, the idea that justice should be blind, and therefore give fair treatment to everyone. The scales held by Lady Justice are meant to symbolize a system that cannot be fooled by counterfeit ideas or testimony. This symbol is meant to convey that justice was done, as a blindfolded woman cannot tell whether a marriage is same-sex or not. Towards the same end, the scales that are designed to depict fair treatment, would be symbolically unable to tell if the two people being married are a same-sex couple or a “traditional” couple. A symbol that has forever exemplified the principles of justice applies again so far in the future from its creation.

The second of the symbols in the center of this cartoon is the Statue of Liberty. This American icon has always been a beacon of hope to oppressed peoples, as her broken shackles symbolize a place where one can live free of judgement. The torch Liberty holds is meant to represent enlightenment and hope for outsiders looking towards America. By using Liberty and Justice in conjunction, Bennett also visually evokes one of the most famous phrases from the Pledge of Allegiance, a pledge which describes America as a place that has “Liberty and Justice for all,” even though there were many couples that couldn’t be legally married until 2015. Using this visual joke highlights the misstep of many states in outlawing same-sex marriage. All of these symbols represent, in the more abstract, fair treatment and equal rights.

Finally, Lady Justice, and Lady Liberty are perched upon a wedding cake together. The wedding cake reads: “Same-sex Marriage.” This visual joke is meant to highlight the fact that when Liberty and Justice came together, to truly be “for all,” same-sex marriage had to be legalized. This joke also explores the irony that the symbols that represent the individual right to marriage are both female, so the figurative marriage of these ideals is also same-sex. Triumph is the theme of the cartoon, and the fact that the most appropriate symbols to represent the victory of same-sex marriage over restriction turned out to be the same sex is almost too impressive to be true.

This cartoon is meant to evoke the joy of a wedding while using symbolism to root this joy to the resolution of a long-debated issue. Opponents of same-sex marriage were finally defeated, and the euphoria of a wedding was rooted to the most popular symbols for liberty and justice. By portraying Lady Liberty and Lady Justice as a newly married couple, the artist also employed the figurative meaning of marriage, intending this to be a symbol of a meeting of the minds more than literal marriage. In using these symbols, Bennett captured the cultural rejoice that followed the defense of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court. Individual liberties were again defended from States’ encroachment by the judicial system.

 

WORKS CITED

 

Blinder, Alan, and Richard Perez-Pena. “Kentucky Clerk Denies Same-Sex Marriage Licenses, Defying Court.” New York Times 2 Dec. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

 

Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Rules Same-sex Marriage a Right Nationwide.” New York Times 26 June 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

 

McKinley, Jesse, and Laurie Goodstein. “Bans in 3 States on Gay Marriage.” New York Times 5 Nov. 2008. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

Ura, Alexa. “Texas Concedes Legal Challenge to Same-Sex Marriage Ban.” The Texas Tribune 1 July 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.