27 June 2022

A few thoughts on the abortion ruling

There's no longer any room to pretend that the Supreme Court is a mere non-political referee interpreting the law in a vacuum.  If it ever was that, it's now just another locus of political power, like the House, Senate, and presidency, a utensil for imposing the will of whichever ideology or group manages to secure control of it.  At present, that control rests with the forces of theocracy.

Biden has re-affirmed that he does not support increasing the number of justices to remedy the situation, even (presumably) if the Democrats were to hold the House and win an enlarged Senate majority making such action possible.  I'm guessing a few million Democrats who were on the fence about whether to vote this year just decided not to bother.  Why would they, if even a Democratic supermajority would remain committed to not doing anything to actually fix the problem?

The Electoral-Vote politics site suggests several actions Biden could take to protect abortion rights, even before the election.  Most of these strike me as requiring much more imagination and chutzpah than this administration has so far displayed.  Biden has handled the Ukraine crisis and other foreign-policy matters superbly, but in general seems timid and conventional on the domestic front.

I do have to wonder whether the people berating the Democrats for not "codifying Roe into federal law" at some point in the last few decades realize that court rulings trump legislation.  The Supreme Court could easily strike down such a law as unconstitutional on whatever grounds it could discover or invent.  This problem will persist as long as the theocratic majority on the Court does.

The Supreme Court's power to overturn legislation which it judges to be unconstitutional -- judicial review -- does not actually exist in the Constitution.  The Court has simply asserted that power since the early nineteenth century, and gotten away with it ever since, so that it is now an entrenched and integral part of the way our system of government works.  To abrogate that power now, as some have suggested, would be a revolutionary upheaval.  Yet there is clearly a problem here which needs to be addressed.  With impeachment a de facto dead letter since it would now be impossible to get two-thirds of the Senate to agree to remove a justice, the Supreme Court is unaccountable.  There are many constraints on a president who abuses his power, as we saw during the Trump years, but there are none when the Supreme Court abuses its power.

If you actually read the Constitution, it seems clear that the founders intended Congress to be pre-eminent.  The present situation, in which the president is an exalted quasi-royal personage and Congress is the mere handmaiden of (or obstacle to) his agenda, is a crass perversion of the way the system was supposed to work.  Least of all were we meant to have de facto sweeping powers to upend the status quo vested in a few unaccountable judges.  While Roe v Wade itself overrode the states' "right" to restrict abortion, it seems clear that the protection of such an extremely basic form of personal freedom would be consistent with the Constitution's overall spirit of excluding government meddling from citizens' personal lives, to say nothing of the separation of church and state -- a legitimate exercise of the Court's power to strike down unconstitutional laws.  Nor can "originalism" justify the prohibition of abortion.  During the period when this country became independent, abortion was commonplace and accepted.  It's not credible that the founders would have endorsed banning it just because it has become a taboo of certain branches of Christianity.

Realistically, however, we will be in the post-Roe environment for some time to come.  Faced with such a huge setback to individual freedom, we can either go with the ever-present moan-groan-doom-gloom crowd and declare ourselves defeated, or we can fight back with whatever tools are available (I call this the "woe vs raid" choice).  Here are some useful tips and links for women in red states; I've included other such information in my link round-ups as I run across it, and will continue to do so.  Anyone else who has any kind of platform should do the same.  Every little bit helps to spread the word about whatever options women have for exercising their freedom in defiance of unjust laws.


Blogger Mike said...

As memes have suggested and as I've seen on local FB pages, people are lining up to give rides to women who need transportation to pro-abortion states. And many companies are offering to pay for transportation and accommodations to also.

27 June, 2022 10:07  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

"I'm guessing a few million Democrats who were on the fence about whether to vote this year just decided not to bother. Why would they, if even a Democratic supermajority would remain committed to not doing anything to actually fix the problem?"
Nope. People's complacency, entitlement and sense of privilege is what brought the country here.
There seem to be several options (clinics in land where SCOTUS has no saying, ordering online abortion pills, literally creating an underground railroad for abortion, etc) in the meanwhile but this situation needs to change (as in SCOTUS has to change) or people of color, LGBTQ people and poor people will be fucked.


27 June, 2022 10:32  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mike: That's what we need. It's not feasible, for the foreseeable future, to change these state laws which have been unleashed. Therefore we need ways to work around them.

Sixpence: What politicians say does impact their voters' motivation. "Vote for us and we still won't do what everybody knows is the only way to fix the problem" is a demotivating message.

or people of color, LGBTQ people and poor people will be fucked

No. Women will be. This is about women. Women -- white or black, straight or gay or bi, rich or poor -- are the ones who can get pregnant, and thus are the ones whose right to abortion must be protected. It's about women, all women and only women, period. End of discussion.

27 June, 2022 11:49  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

Oh dear, I've been a member of the moan-groan-doom-gloom crowd for decades. However, you mentioned that anyone else who has a platform can help spread the word about options for women. Therefore, I'll work that link you gave into a post and tell everyone where I got it. I don't have female visitors that I know of, but I bet some of the men who visit my blog know a few.

27 June, 2022 14:38  
Blogger Mary said...

It’s about women now…but down the road all the rest will come into play. It’s just the beginning

27 June, 2022 15:31  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Thanks for posting this. There's a lot of good information here.C

I knew this was coming, but it's still a shock.

The Christo-fascists hit the trifecta this week: Guns, God, and Gynacology

27 June, 2022 16:19  
Anonymous NickM said...

Look at the RoI. Until very recently you had absurd laws on lots of things in this area

A bit further back people smuggled contraception from the UK - and yes, bags were searched for "immoral items".

Then very rapidly... RoI gets gay marriage, proper abortion rights (much more liberal than NI) and even has an openly gay Taiseach. Leo Varadkar was not especially left-wing. Fine Gael is roughly where the German CDU is - European centre-rightish. That is exactly what happens when a country becomes repulsed by the long history of the clerical abuses (in this case overwhelmingly by the Catholic Church) such as corruption, peadophile priests and the nuns running appallingly Dickensian work-houses for the children of unmarried mothers etc...

Ireland changed very quickly. I was impressed. Apart from anything, whilst being English, I also have Irish citizenship - my Dad was born there and I have the passport. So if the Irish can wear the pants* then I don't see why the USA can't.

*Sorry, but you and Bruce's Pantocalypse Now struck a chord with me! The bad guys will fail not just when the evil is exposed but also the absurdity. If you haven't seen, "Father Ted" I recommend it. Being able to make people laugh at something is usually more powerful than shooting at it.

27 June, 2022 17:48  
Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Judicial Supremacy is an abomination and anathema to the Constitution and This Court of Mullah Wannabes is going to strike down anything which ameliorates the march towards Evangelical Fascism.

27 June, 2022 19:26  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ricko: I appreciate it. You never know who's reading, and as you say, some men may mentally file away some of this information in case women they know need it.

Mary: There may be future rulings that will affect the rights of other groups, certainly, but right now we're dealing with the abortion ruling -- and that's what this post is about. If there's a future ruling against gay marriage, that will affect gay people's rights. Abortion affects women's rights. For any given issue, we need to stay focused and not let the issue at hand dissolve in a boundaryless mush of intersectionality.

Shaw: Thanks. I knew it was coming -- attacking abortion has always been a central goal of the theocrats, and I never believed they were just using it to whip up their base and wouldn't actually do anything. It's usually best to assume people are telling the truth about their intentions.

NickM: The Republic of Ireland is an example I've often used. In the US, due to the system we have, there's much more of a disconnect between society and government. We're following the same secularizing trajectory as Europe (though a bit further behind), but the religious wackjobs have focused on taking over the Republican party, and thus have an inordinate amount of political power.

Grung: And in the course of doing so, they're trashing the court's legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Once that respect and gravitas are gone, there will be little inhibition left against developing work-arounds for its rulings or just ignoring them.

27 June, 2022 20:58  
Blogger W. Hackwhacker said...

Infidel -- you're absolutely right about the realities of the situation -- i.e., the Court's stranglehold on any legislative amelioration. The fight is now at the state level, where Republicans have been so successful to date in capturing state legislatures (62 held by Republicans, 36 by Democrats per Ballotpedia). But, as you say, this is an environment we'll be in for a long time, and though the theocrats may have won this battle,the war is not over.

Thanks for the link to tips for women in red states -- it's very helpful and information like this needs to be disseminated widely.

28 June, 2022 05:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Biden is one of the "dry powder" set. But that led us here.

28 June, 2022 07:45  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I'm so angry about the overturning of Roe but I know it's just the beginning of the bad because there's more stuff coming. Women's health just got put in jeopardy and women are going to die because of this ruling.

28 June, 2022 15:19  
Blogger Ami said...

I have a lot of thoughts. None very coherent, I'm too angry. I am grateful that Oregon, at least for now, is a state where my daughter can receive women's health care.

I won't vote for a Republican, but voting for the other guys isn't actually helping. It was *supposed* to. And that's what they ran on. But here we are.

But I did read this (and reposted on social media)
The "Christians" who are saying, "Don't have sex and you won't get pregnant" are the same dumbasses whose entire belief system is built on the idea that some woman didn't have sex AND GOT PREGNANT.

28 June, 2022 21:40  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Hackwhacker: I've always considered this kind of thing to be a long fight -- see motto at the top of the blog. The struggle has been going on for many centuries and has more to run yet.

I will continue to post useful information about preserving abortion freedom whenever I find it.

Mary K: Certainly, women will die. I hope there will be enough media attention that their deaths will at least awaken people to the horror of the situation and lead to change, as Savita Halappanavar's did in Ireland.

Ami: Oregon should be safe for quite a while. Remember, even if the Republicans want a nationwide abortion ban, they'd need to hold the House, Senate, and presidency at the same time to pass it.

The Democrats need to do something big in response to this. It's put-up-or-shut-up time for Biden.

Great juxtaposition on the Christian pregnancy nonsense!

29 June, 2022 00:34  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

Biden needs to grow a pair.

29 June, 2022 20:02  
Blogger Daal said...

thanks for this sober & clear assessment

03 July, 2022 21:41  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Granny: Still waiting on that one.....

Daal: Thanks -- I do the best I can.

03 July, 2022 22:34  

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