SCOTUS decisions: rage and grief the order of the day by Marjorie Arons Barron
The entry below is being cross-posted from Marjorie Arons Barron’s own blog.
In the last 24 hours, the Supreme Court has made it easier to kill people as long as it’s with a gun, but it has barred women from removing from their own bodies embryonic or fetal material not viable as human beings– even if caused by rape or incest. SCOTUS has taken a wildly absolutist view of the Second Amendment while, for the first time, depriving women of a Constitutional right affirmed nearly 50 years ago.
On the very day that Congress, in a qualified bipartisan way, passed a modest but still helpful gun safety law, SCOTUS struck down a New York law giving police the power to determine who has the right to carry a gun in public. Massachusetts has a similar law, along with a handful other other states. Those are all in jeopardy.
The Court’s so-called Dobbs ruling allows states to ban abortion altogether, and half the states are already poised to do just that. But this historic decision also enables Congress to outlaw all abortions nationally, and Republicans in Congress want to do ban abortions in every state. The opinion opens the gates for the Court’s rolling back rights to gay marriage and contraception, though it’s highly inconceivable that the misogynists on the bench would outlaw vasectomies. Justice Clarence Thomas opined that previous rulings based on a constitutional right of privacy merit rethinking. Presumably that could include banning interracial marriage, which would be interesting because Thomas’s QAnon-conspiracy-supporting wife, Ginni, is white.
Confidence in the Supreme Court has dropped to just 25 percent, an historic low according to the Gallup Poll. And it’s no wonder. The institution has come to be viewed as little more than an extension of partisan politics. We’ve come a long way from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s preserving Roe in 1992’s Casey decision by asserting: “our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.”
Today, Justice Samuel Alito’s majority decision had the Orwellian chutzpah to explain “the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.” These are the same “elected representatives” who get to pick their voters due to Supreme Court-endorsed gerrymandering. For at least a decade, many states in which sizeable majorities support a woman’s right to chose will be controlled by representatives voting the opposite. Remember also, four of the justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade were nominated by presidents who lost the popular vote. The rhetoric of democratic rule rings hollow.
President Biden decried today’s ruling as extreme and called on Congress to pass a federal law codifying abortion protections under Roe. So far, Democrats have not found a way around the Senate 60-vote requirement to federalize the right to an abortion through statute. The stakes could not be higher in this fall’s midterms and in 2024.
We are in a Darth Vader moment with a Jaws soundtrack. As bad as things are, they can get a lot worse. But we need to respond resolutely with ballots not bullets. Peaceful organizing, not street violence. Cong. Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez should immediately tone down her sidewalk rallying cry that “elections are not enough.”
There is no substitute for forging ahead, working like crazy to keep the House and Senate from going Republican in the midterms, making sure reasonable people get elected to state houses nationwide. Independent and Republican suburban women who went for Biden in 2020 but have been leaning toward Trump and, in recent polls, embracing his clones running for Congress should wake up. And Democrats and Independents who smugly assumed this day would never come, never making this a priority issue, must now reallocate their time, wisdom, and resources smartly.
These are your rights and the rights of your children and grandchildren that are being trampled. Women’s health and well-being are being threatened. This is no time to let bad news depress us into withdrawing from the political arena.