Sometime this summer, a leaked draft opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito will be finalized and what many thought as unthinkable will shortly come to pass; Roe v Wade will be overturned.
Many who support choice feel blindsided. But should we?
I was exchanging texts with a friend about random things, nothing serious, when she went off course and texted me the breaking news of the leaked opinion.
I was stunned.
And then – I wasn’t.
Of course Roe would be overturned. Overturning Roe would be consistent with every heinousness we’ve witnessed over the past seven or so years.
It was the ending that many on the pro-choice side knew was coming and yet shocked when the news broke. We all suspected that it was on the horizon. We just didn’t realize that the horizon was so damn close. Going into the boxing match you know you’re going to be hit but you still find yourself stunned when the first punch lands.
We’ve always known that the “religious” right and the Roman Catholic Church were never going to throw up the white flag on this issue – never -ever. We’ve seen the machinations and mischiefs, the challenges, the laws passed and then overturned and we’ve watched it all for fifty years. Certainly we had another fifty years.
And then Donald Trump happened. After seven years of Trump as chief barker of his carnival of the damned I suppose that we were lulled to sleep. Every outrage, no matter how big or how small became business as usual. Alternative facts, name calling, kowtowing to dictators, weekly golf outings, covering up a Saudi murder and all the daily bullshit just became commonplace. Every morning I would wake up expecting some kind of fuckery, cuss about it, issue the usual,”oh well,” and go about my day.
After the election we hoped for some relief but it was in the end, a false hope. The phantasm that won’t be exorcised still haunts the nation. He’s like Jason Voorhees, he just keeps coming back.
Probably most damaging though are the three landmines that Trump planted during his administration; Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett.
But the whole story began long ago, before Trump mattered to anyone but Trump.
The crusade began in 1973 as soon as Roe came down. This was a time when Trump was but a yearling in the art of chicanery. Abortion wasn’t on his list of concerns as he was trying to avoid going to war. It was a year after Roe that Trump negotiated his now famous bone spur deferment.
Twenty-six years later, Trump couldn’t have been more clear. “I’m very pro-choice,” Trump said in an interview with Tim Russert.
I imagine he would be. A womanizer in every sense of the word, he must have taken comfort in the knowledge that if one of his liaisons became pregnant, the problem would have a quick and easy solution. He certainly had the cash and cachet to get the deal done.
All of that was before Trump went all in on the notion of being crowned king of America.
Say what you will about Trump, he was savvy enough to know that the Democratic Party wouldn’t entertain his distorted populism so he looked elsewhere for a patsy and found willing stooges in the Republican Party and a dim bulb, ignorant electorate.
In order to gain a conservative base though, Trump needed a makeover, not a problem for a man whose stock in trade is chiseling.
And so, Trump assumed the guise of a pro-life “Christian.” Suddenly the “pussy” grabber was all Jesus, all Bible, all the time, even though he’s probably never read a single passage with the exception of those times when he figured there would be something in it for him. As it turned out, there was – the presidency.
Well, glory hallelujah and praise the lord, the “religious” right had found their savior. Sure there was a checkered past but Trump promised deliverance to the promised land of scuttling Roe.
Deliverance was a Supreme Court that would look at Roe with scorn. In exchange, God’s chosen was willing to overlook the unwanted “pussy” grabbing, the extra-marital affairs, a bit of rolling in the hay with porn stars, and every other morally reprehensible act in Trump’s past and present. So desperate was the “religious” right to topple Roe that it was willing to tie itself to Satan himself. Which it did. It was a marriage made in hell and consummated at Trump’s inauguration.
Trump wasn’t without the beneficiary of a bit of luck, a large measure of double-dealing and a heaping helping of bald faced hypocrisy.
His good fortune was the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018, replaced by Brett Kavanaugh; and the deaths of Antonin Scalia in February of 2016 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18th 2020 (Keep those death dates in mind).
The double-dealing was on the part of then Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. After Scalia’s death, then President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to be Scalia’s replacement. McConnell, whose constitutional duty it was to schedule a Senate confirmation hearing, refused to do so, citing the presidential election that was still over eight months away, and making the specious claim that a president with so little time left in office should not be allowed to appoint a justice (taking into account, the late January inauguration date, Obama had almost an entire year left in office).
With Garland put on ice, Trump was able to nominate Neil Gorsuch who was sworn in on April 10th, 2017.
Ginsburg passed away six and half weeks before the upcoming 2020 presidential election. Surely McConnell would hold up a nomination as he did with Obama’s.
Forthrightness is not McConnell’s style, particularly when driven by his own vow which was to essentially throw any political roadblock possible before the Democrats.
With the looming possibility that Joe Biden might win the election, McConnell was all about getting a Trump appointee on the bench – post haste. And so Amy Coney Barrett was nominated and her confirmation hearing was rushed through in the winking of an eye (And likely a lot of surreptitious nods and winks among GOP members of the Judiciary Committee).
And so, through the luck of timing and McConnell’s flagrant fouls, Trump was afforded the opportunity to appoint three right wing extremists to the Supreme Court.
In his confirmation hearing Neil Gorsuch said, “I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed. A good judge will consider it as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.”
Responding to a question by Chuck Grassely, Gorsuch said, “The reliance interest considerations [of Roe] are important…”
Gorsuch bobbed and weaved with a dexterity that would’ve made Muhammad Ali green with envy.
Pro-choice senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Maine’s Susan Collins, both Republicans and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp took that to mean that Gorsuch would uphold Roe, and voted to confirm.
Next up was Brett Kavanaugh whose demeanor at his hearing had all the dignity of a frat boy on a bender.
If you buy Susan Collins’ explanation (and buyer beware), Kavanaugh, during a private meeting, assured her that he considered Roe to be settled law.
Ignoring the alarm bells of Kavanaugh’s churlish behavior during his hearing, Collins voted to confirm Kavanaugh.
It was typical Suzy, whose only consistency is to alternate between clueless and two faced.
And Barrett? A religious zealot, her vote to overturn Roe if it ever came up, would be a slam dunk.
That’s how we got here.
But the Supreme Court monkey business is just the stinking head. The whole fucking fish reeks a vile, foul stench of hypocrisy.
For five decades, the vanguard of the anti-Roe gang has been made up of so-called “Christians”, starting almost immediately with the Roman Catholic Church. The evangelicals took up the cudgel about six years after Roe and have clenched the issue in its steel jaws ever since.
The religious zealot’s banner proclaims in big bold letters, “sanctity of life,” yet if you ask most members of the “religious” right their views on gun control they won’t hesitate to whip out their own personal copy of the Second Amendment and stand on their “right to bear arms.”
Where is their concern for the sanctity of life when confronted with the decades long butcher’s bill that’s resulted from gun violence? The right’s claim on the sanctity of life disappeared for all of eternity when it remained silent at best and doubled down on guns at worst, after twenty children were gunned down at Sandy Hook.
And while the “religious” right’s political enablers are all about the “sanctity of life” in the womb, they’ve historically been opposed to funding for programs that provide assistance with nutrition, health care, child care, protection from domestic violence and services for parents with substance abuse problems. Carry that child to term even if the pregnancy was due to rape but after your nine months are up we’re cutting you loose.
Where was the right’s concern for life during the past two years when it worked tirelessly to suppress America’s war against a pandemic?
For over two years, the right has waged a political propaganda blitzkrieg against science, medicine and common sense. It’s been a period of unsafe, nonsensical behavior that began with denial of the pandemic, then shifted to the promotion of quackery, and then followed up with infantile tantrums over masks and vaccines. There was never concern about the sanctity of life. It was about the sanctity of the economy and some tortured baloney about “freedom.” They even hijacked the pro-choice rallying cry, “my body-my choice.”
Care to meet the face of hypocrisy?
Meet Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz, the bloviating senator from Texas who hasn’t met a photo op he didn’t like.
After the leaked draft opinion was made public, Cruz jumped to the conclusion that it was “some angry left-wing law clerk,” who was the leaker (As of this writing, we don’t know who the leaker was). An outraged Cruz described the leak as being something “as corrosive, as destructive to the Supreme Court as we’ve ever seen.”
Not Mitch McConnell’s insidious maneuvering? Not Trump nominating justices who passed his Roe litmus test? Not the obfuscation, if not outright lying, by prospective justices during confirmation? None of that was corrosive to the tattered reputation of the Supreme Court?
And what of Alito’s leaked opinion?
In his draft, Alito wrote, “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision”
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion…” Well, no shit! It was written in 1787.
The Constitution also makes no reference to cars, jet planes, television or the internet; or a million and one other advances made since the eighteenth century. Maybe we should outlaw some of those. Howabout we start with the internet since it’s been the prime conduit for spurious crapola.
The Constitution also makes no reference to women and that’s likely because women were not afforded the same rights as the framers and the white, propertied population that benefited from that document. Women were in fact considered little better than chattel and were treated as such.
The word “corporation ” is also nowhere to be found in the Constitution but Alito saw fit to afford corporations the same right to freedom of speech as people, when he voted in favor of Citizens United.
In his draft opinion, Alito, in a weak and insulting attempt to throw women a bone offers that abortion, pro or con, is an issue to be decided by voters, allowing “women on both sides of the abortion issue to seek to affect the legislative process by influencing public opinion, lobbying legislators, voting and running for office. Women are not without electoral or political power.”
Well Sammy, that’s small comfort for a poor Black woman in the nether reaches of Mississippi or some other red state where redistricting, wrought by the same pirates who took away reproductive rights, has essentially gerrymandered her into disenfranchisement.
And to add insult to injury, it was Alito who, in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, voted with the majority to help gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965, paving the way for red states to pass restrictive voting laws that hearken back to the days of Jim Crow.
This movement by the right, supported by judges like Alito, is in fact stripping women (and people of color and the poor) of electoral and political power.
Not planning on an abortion?
Well, stand by, because Alito’s opinion could, according to University of New Hampshire Law Professor Tiffany Li, “impact many cases involving privacy rights. Rights to abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage and more could all be at risk now.”
Li continued, “There’s no abortion right in the Constitution, but there’s arguably no privacy right in the Constitution either. Making decisions on what rights are ‘deeply rooted in history’ is concerning when so many rights were not explicitly written in the Constitution.”
It’s the business model of the “religious” right to stick its perverted “Christian” nose into the private lives of everyone, particularly those who don’t hold to proper “Christian” values.
Don’t think for a moment that Republican lawmakers at every level, with the help of their evangelical patrons, aren’t swiveling their sights onto same-sex marriage. Remember that old slogan, “sanctity of marriage?” It’s coming to a red state near you.
In response to the leaked opinion, Mississippi, Republican Governor Tate Reeves hasn’t ruled out attempting to ban some forms of contraception. I suppose that they’ll be clearing condoms from the drug store shelves and filling the empty space with Bibles (King James version if you please).
It seems like centuries ago that America was under the leadership of a moderately liberal Black president, but it’s really only been six short years. We’ve certainly made some great strides in the very brief time since Barack Obama was sitting in the White House.
Unfortunately the strides have been backwards, back to times when the womenfolk were expected to stay home, take care of the young’uns, and keep quiet unless spoken to.