A Rant On Roe
The Supreme Court is about to unveil a decision that will enrage about 70% of the country.
Of course, when you are wearing a black robe sitting high above the rabble, you don’t need to care much about what the People want. You can get all prissy about interpretations of how much the law can be enacted before you declare that it is ‘overreach’. Roe is naughty and needs to be rolled back.
Even though Roe has been in place for 50 years, and become the practice.
Women have now been told that their vaginas belong to the males, who are evidently at the top of the social order.
Let’s turn this around for a second, and imagine the reaction if the Court looked at sex from the perspective of controlling male sperm — after all, males are half of the child-creation equation. Let’s say that the law said that every young man had to have a vasectomy. When he was deemed financially and emotionally fit to be a father, it would be revered.
This question to Justice Alito: does the idea of controlling a man’s body make you angry?
Then get your gavel out of women’s bodies!
69% of American adults support Roe, while 30% want it overturned; of that 30%, only a minority think abortion should be illegal in all cases. This split has been consistent for 20 years.
But let’s remember Hanlon’s Razor, “never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”.
Did the Court come down on Roe out of malice or stupidity?
Malice certainly played a part. Five Republican Supreme Court justices have reportedly voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
But when they were testifying at their Senate confirmation hearings, they all denied they were planning to do that. They lied.
The stupidity part comes in with the interpretation of the role of the Court. The theory behind the ruling, Alito argues, is that only those rights “deeply rooted in the nation’s history in tradition” deserve its protections.
This is as arbitrary as it is lawless.
It means that no social evolution is possible — and that is the core of the conservative belief. If it were true, we would still be owning slaves today — the original constitution categorized blacks as less than human.
In fact, it was Alito’s predecessor Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney who claimed in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) that the Founders’ Constitution regarded blacks as “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”
Evidently women have no right today, either. It’s reassuring to see the same Supreme Court being the author of what makes blacks and women ‘human’.
The Court today is dismissing Roe vs Wade because the judges say that the court should not make the policy decisions— they should only interpret little bits of it.
But in the 1992 case that reaffirmed the most essential holding of Roe, the Court’s opinion contained this famous phrase: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
Since the constitution does not mention abortion at all, then abortion is a matter left to the democratic process. TO OVERTURN THIS RULING the majority of people must embrace a constitutional order that limits the power of the judiciary to write laws and expands the power of the people to define the heart of liberty for themselves.
There is nothing in practice that prevents the Court from legalizing abortion, except for the interpretation of a few current judges that such an act goes into the realm of Governance…something they have decided suddenly is beyond their purview.
Again, let’s remember that when they were being vetted for the Court, the candidates said they agreed with Roe. A stated agreement was their green light to a lifetime job and that black robe.
Since conservatives think of themselves as “originalists” regarding their interpretations of Constitutional law, we have a right to delve into their own philosophical ‘origins’.
An interpretation of the Christian code has crept steadily into American politics. It was one that was used to halt change. America switched its age-tested motto “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of Many, One) to include “In God We Trust,” in the 1950s. That was meant to prevent Communism. The fact that it added money to the coffers of evangelists couldn’t hurt. It also changed Francis Bellamy’s original 1891 “Pledge of Allegiance,” which contained no references to God or religion.
Even the Constitution’s instructions for taking the presidential oath of office include no references to religion or religious artifacts. Placing a hand on the Bible is not a requirement, and it was not practiced by all presidents. All that the Constitution instructs in this regard is the recitation of the following oath:
‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The intrusion of this brand of faith behind today’s folly holds that it is sinful to have an abortion. The only time abortion is mentioned in the Bible is when God himself provides a full blown instruction manual describing in great detail exactly how to perform them. If the woman follows this procedure, “her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry”. The abortion, it must be emphasized, was done for the comfort of the male who was in charge of her life; it had nothing to do with her well-being.
But Conservative Christians don’t care about the woman or about the Bible. They want control.
It’s not really about being “pro-life”. Even the heartbeat test for a fetus is deranged; it must be emphasized that a human heartbeat is not a sign of life…heart cells beat in petri dishes.
The argument that the abortion might kill the next Beethoven or Einstein neatly omits the truth that forcing a birth upon a woman is equally likely to kill her chances to be the next Beethoven or Einstein.
The same people who are pro-life are against all measures to support life after birth: education, income support, welfare…
We did not have to end up here.
Roe was one day old in 1973 when Bella Abzug, who was a House representative from New York, urged Congress to codify Roe. She basically foresaw exactly where we are today, that there was the potential legislation to erode Roe.
Fast forward to today: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s decision to not step down from the court in her 80s, during Obama’s presidency, created the opening after her death during the Trump administration for the guarantee of a conservative majority on the bench. We would not be here had she done that.
Side-note, Trump’s new justices are 55 years old, so they likely have another 20 years of service before they die out. For anyone contemplating a court strategy, an enlargement of the court seems the only option to keeping it in reasonable contact with the surrounding society.
If these new Justices are determined to strip away a right that has been enshrined for a half century, what will they do next? It has been noted that “There is no freedom from state coercion that conservatives cannot strip away if conservatives find that freedom personally distasteful.”
In the meantime, other countries have been easing access to abortion. America’s arch-fiend the USSR (read: Russia) allowed abortion in 1920. The Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court, Brian Dickson, took the position: “Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman’s body and thus a violation of security of the person.” Denying abortion is interference in the Canadian Criminal Code, which guarantees the right of life, liberty and the security of the person.
Just to nail it down, Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted that “The right to choose is a woman’s right and a woman’s right, alone.”
No doubt there will be attacks on that decision, and some work-arounds. Some companies are taking active measures: Amazon has announced that it will reimburse employees who have to travel for abortions, and other medical treatments.
It’s now time to get ready to change this decision. In a way, the conservatives have done themselves a big disservice. If they had left this issue along, they could have puttered along doing their job. But now they have enraged and enlivened every opponent to their philosophy. This will upend the 2022 midterm elections and turn the campaign into a massive mobilizing effort over the issue . It will be a messy time for years to come.
Now the conservatives might find that it is much easier to try to knock something down than to defend it.