RH Law goes to the SC

As expected, RA 10354 (the RH Law) goes before the Supreme Court. Here's an article by a blogger worth reading, with some good points on the petition filed (see here). Another is this quite strong and well argued editorial from the Inquirer (see here). Although I must say that one thing should be clarified: all arguments before the SC are secular arguments, even one involving religious freedoms.

Anyway, the problem with a religious liberties argument (Article III.5 of the Constitution) is that it presents an inconsistency with the previous and repeated arguments made by the Catholic Church or the pro-life movement. Note that the central argument by the Church was not that contraception violates doctrine or theology (like not eating meat on Fridays during Lent or not taking communion within one hour of eating a meal) and the proscription thereof applies only to Catholics. No. The Church has long argued that contraception violates natural law and thus its non-use applies to everyone.

Furthermore, a religious liberties argument, by design, merely seeks an exemption from the application of the law. Finally, in addressing such argument, the SC is simply tasked with weighing conflicting rights, all the while within the context of Congress having made a judgment call on policy.

Procedural, cultural, equal protection, free expression, etc. arguments (either Articles II, III, or VI of the Constitution) all, in this case, when one considers jurisprudential history (including foreign ones), leave great doubt as to whether they are of sufficient depth for the SC to overturn an RH Law. At best, they (including religious liberties arguments) are merely alternative arguments.

Which leaves natural law. By the way, natural law, for the uninitiated, is a 'secular' and (very technical) legal argument. But for natural law to be argued, one has to present arguments addressing the issue relating to 'is' and 'ought', the kind and essence of natural law, the origin and hierarchy of rights, the function of the judiciary (as opposed to the legislature) in accepting natural law, and how natural law precisely relates to contraception.

Having said that, natural law effectively presented remains the strongest argument against the RH Law. However, in the rush to file cases in the Supreme Court and for who knows what reason, it is being abandoned at the time when it is most precisely needed.

A very interesting thing about this Supreme Court case to get rid of the RH Law is that it will pit the 'originalists' school of thought, which seeks adherence to the original intent of the Constitution (note that our Constitution is one definitely 'pro-life' by wording and design) against the 'living constitution' lawyers, who believes in stretching (actually discarding) the actual wording of the Constitution to suit their own positions. In this case, to justify the constitutionality of the RH Law.

As can be seen, much is at stake in this RH Law case and it's not just the constitutionality of the RH Law alone. A ruling in this case could very well lay down foundational precedents on the interpretation of our constitution, the place of natural law within our legal system, the hierarchy and nature of rights, the application of international law within our legal system, and the limits or extent of legislative and judicial discretion.

This is simply one of those cases that could determine the direction of the country for decades to come. The need therefore for a very well considered and deliberate legal strategy that presents a substantive intellectual consistency and cohesion is clear.

It's interesting to see how the petitioners in an RH Law case argues through such complexity. Hopefully, they express their positions clearly. In any event, I'm confident the SC will correctly appreciate the arguments presented by the parties and rule on this case as it should.