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The Supreme Court Has Destroyed Itself

The most immediate and visceral implication of the Supreme Court ruling on abortion which will be published in a month, is the effect on women. That effect will be felt in many ways. One must never lose sight of that in any discussion of the subject.

There is another aspect, we could call if legal, or overarching. That is the unalterable damage that will be done to “the rule of law,” the entire underpinnings of the American democracy. As is usually the case, the zealots, the fascists, the authoritarians, do not care one bit about any of that. They want to “win,” they want to make people bend the knee to them, and they revel in it.

I have not read the draft decision, but I have the essence of it. Alito, writing the decision, said that Roe v. Wade was a poor decision, wrongly decided. The Court overturned it, and said that the issue of a woman’s right to abortion should go back to being decided by each state, “the popular will of the citizenry,” or something like that.

The entire concept of the United State Supreme Court was to protect constitutional rights from the tyranny of the majority. That is, to reflect the basic principles behind the Constitution, that people have certain rights, and no majority of citizens and voters can take them away. Over the years, those rights have been expanded by the courts. It has been a principle, never stated in the Constitution, but interpreted from it, that when the Supreme Court finds a personal right to be embedded in the Constitution, that right is never taken away.

Now the culmination of fifty years of careful Court packing, intimidation of the liberal side, vast state overreach, has created a Supreme Court which just eliminated a right which people had relied upon for fifty years. They eliminated it by not guaranteeing and protecting it, and allowing each state to make its own decisions as to whether a woman has a legal right to an abortion; and if so, to what extent?

The effect will be that in some states, there will be a complete right to an abortion. In others, there will be some limited right. In others, there will be no right at all, and there will be severe penalties for having an abortion or performing one. Life imprisonment or death could be the penalties, it will be left up to each state.

If you live in a state where abortion is outlawed, then you must travel to another state to get one. Unless the state you live in writes a law that any resident of the state who travels to a different state to get an abortion, is deemed to have violated the rule of the residence state, and thus can be imprisoned or executed.

That kind of law has not been written yet, but it will be. Because the religious zealots on the Supreme Court have allowed the people in each state, through their state legislature and governor, to make up any degree of restrictions regarding abortion. Alito and the Court say that it should once again be entirely left to the people of each state, to come up with any laws they wish with regard to abortion.

If someone who is a resident of Alabama flees to Illinois to get an abortion, it is possible that Alabama’s law will require that they be brought back to Alabama for trial and punishment. That is the Dred Scott decision, in so many words.

Let’s say that you are a resident of Virginia, where abortion was legal. Now the Republicans have taken over the governorship and the state legislature, running on issues completely unrelated to abortion, but may use that power to limit or even ban abortion. Now under the new Supreme Court decision, they can do that. A woman had a right to an abortion, and now the ruling triggers a new law put in just for that, and it is illegal. Of course, in two years, the Democrats could take over the state again, and the right to an abortion is reinstated, until the Republicans take it away again.

There is no longer a nationally protected right to an abortion. There was, but now there is not. To use the words of Justice Sotomayor in a different case, all that will have changed is the makeup of the Court.

That is completely inimical to the concept of a Constitution which guarantees certain rights, protected by the courts. I am well aware that the Constitution does not mention abortion. But the idea behind that rather terse document is that it provides the basic framework, to be expanded or delineated by the courts. After all, even those rights actually enumerated, such as freedom of speech, are open to nuance and interpretation. Some on the Far Right try to limit freedom of speech and religion. This is not France with its Napoleonic Codes, which list everything. We depend on the judicial system to fairly and decently interpret the rights and protect them.

Now that is gone. The members of the Supreme Court were carefully selected for their rigid Catholic backgrounds, and their wish to overturn Roe. They lied or dissembled, and were confirmed to the Court. Within months of the forming of the 6-3 Radical Right activist Court (do not let them try to contend that they are not activist, when they throw out fifty years of precedent), states eagerly jumped in to pass laws which violated Roe, and were thus unconstitutional. But the new Supreme Court insidiously ignored that, and let them stand, even the Texas law which created bounties by which anyone could get paid for uncovering an abortion.

The Religious Right knew very well what would happen, so they jumped in with the most draconian state laws possible, all of which violated Roe. But now the Court has overturned Roe, as they knew they would. Thus the Supreme Court removes all pretense of protecting Constitutional rights, and becomes a political body whose members were appointed to carry out the will of the minority population which managed to utilize our flawed electoral system to get them appointed.

The most recent poll on Roe found that 61% of the population of this country wanted Roe to be kept as law. 31% wanted it overturned. Yet somehow it was overturned, either 5-4 or 6-3. The Supreme Court has become the weapon of the Radical Right; and far from protecting rights, is taking them away through the power installed in them by a distinct minority of the population. In other words, Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and a few other states of that nature control the Supreme Court, and thus the rights of all Americans.

We can say that the Republicans “played the game better.” But it is not a game, it is a deadly serious battle of rights and wills. The essential truth is that Democrats have valued the norms, the precedents, the concept of stare decisis, but the Republicans do not. Democrats would never have refused to hold hearings on a nominee of a Republican president, because they do not believe it is proper. Republicans have no such compunction, which is why Thomas is on the Court, and Garland is not, replaced by Gorsuch.

Republicans do anything to win. Democrats adhere to principles and moderation. Do you doubt that if the Court had a liberal majority, and the Republicans held Congress and the presidency, they would not expand the Court? They vowed to never let Hillary Clinton appoint a Supreme Court justice, and McConnell essentially said the same thing about Biden, should the Republicans take over the Senate majority.

Democrats continue to adhere to “norms,” and are afraid to change them. And the media is always demanding that they not do it differently. That, and the minority state bias of the Electoral College, has somehow gotten us a Court which is representing about 40% of the people at most, and pounding the personal rights of the majority into the ground.

This overturning of Roe means that this Radical Right Court will impose its own belief system upon the country. If a state passes a law banning assault weapons, the Court will say that it violates the Second Amendment, their biased view of it, a view which former Conservative Chief Justice Burger said, after he had retired, was the biggest legal fraud ever perpetrated on the American public, this contention that the Amendment which was specifically about state militias, somehow meant that anyone could own as many guns as they wanted.

And so the Supreme Court will make decision after decision imposing their radical religious and social views on a population which does not want them. The idea of the Court protecting any right but the right to own guns, or to put religion into textbooks and schools, is gone. For fifty years, women had a right to abortion, and now they do not, if they live in any state controlled by the Far Right.

What does the Court stand for now? Just the views of its members. For those who want to say that it was always that way, that is untrue. The entire idea of the American judicial system is that the judges are not supposed to impose their own agendas, but to follow stare decisis, and to not take away rights which had been granted. But this Court is determined to rewrite the entire Constitution and its expansion over the centuries.

Next goes the right to contraception. Maybe gay marriage, though I think that the Court will not overturn that, trying to look like anything but the religious authoritarians they are. Maybe interracial marriage, but again, they won’t go that far, not yet, anyway. Could they return to “separate but equal” segregation, as under Plessy vs. Ferguson? Unlikely, but the door is open for any of these. This Court does not respect its own precedent. and so no one else can rely on it.

We can analyze the electoral effects, but that really obscures the point. Every American citizen is now at the mercy of the Supreme Court majority, set up to rule for fifty years, and to dismantle all the social and economic progress of the last hundred years. That body will lose all respect, and be viewed as a bunch of partisan hacks, just like Barrett tried to pretend that they were not. Justices hobnob with Right-Wing politicians, and go to their rallies. There is no effort to pretend any judicial independence.

What we need to do is to stop relying on norms, because the Radical Right tramples on all of them Try to somehow hold onto the Senate and the House. Try to codify Roe into law. If the Supreme Court predictably declares that unconstitutional, add seats to the Court.

Play hardball, there is no other viable choice. The Supreme Court has destroyed any vestige of its pretense of judicial moderation and expansion of basic rights. It is filled with spiteful, arrogant, and rigidly partisan people who reflect the same qualities as the people who put them in power. The Court will never be the same, no matter what happens. They have written themselves out of all respect and regard, it will always be their legacy.

A message to the media

The days of getting the opinions of old guys in diners are over. Also, no more interviews with brassy blonde sTRUMPets at fascist rallies. We are sick to death of the ultra religious conservatives bogarting your microphones for 50 years while women’s voices were muted and made to sound unpleasant or cackling or unlikeable. What did you think was going to happen??

Read the goddamn room for once.

By the way, Ukrainians are still fighting and dying for the rest of us.

The LAST thing we need today is some stupid comment from TFG plastered across our screens. Zip him.

One other thing: We’ve beaten this fascist totalitarian warning to death to the point where it’s become background noise but one thing is for sure. Such regimes always entertain strict gender roles and almost always restrict abortions. You can look it up.

If the media doesn’t start understanding what is actually happening- right now- then they will completely take over and the anchors and journalists may find themselves in an unprecedented anti press environment. If women have no right to freedom of religion, what makes you think they can’t restrict the press?