The Temple – It’s got 2 fences around it today
Its been a momentous week in the United States as the Supreme Court punched a hole in the wall separating church and state, made carrying a gun in public easier and stripping away the right to abortion from every woman in America. All six Justices appointed to the Court by Republicans voted in support and all three Justices appointed by Democrats voted against.
Five of the six votes to strike down Roe were from staunch Catholics and Catholic educated Justices. Yes I know; were not to speak about such things. The language of the decision, written by Justice Alito *(We Italians are so proud) was particularly strident, bordering on nasty. It was like he was waiting for decades to write this opinion.
Makes no difference of course that the overwhelming majority of Americans supported Roe. Nope. These Justices, after lying to Congress through their teeth during the nomination process, went right ahead and voted exactly as expected by those who appointed them.
Those suburban women and men out there who voted for Trump and expected Roe would be upheld got exactly what they deserved.
This week we had three examples of literalism and original intent to interpret a short document written by white men who owned people in a new fledgling republic hugging the east coast some 250 years ago. Gee! It doesn’t mention abortion!
Millions think it was “divinely inspired.” I, for one, find it a bit ridiculous that we still believe in the divine in the 21st century. The justices themselves, however, do everything they can to promote this image. They collectively are the embodiment of constitutionalism.
“They protect their reputation by working in secret. According to hallowed tradition, no one other than the justices attends the sessions where cases are actually decided. The justices rarely hold press conferences or make public statements. Moreover, the quasi-religious claptrap that surrounds the court—the robes the justices wear, the marble temple in which they are housed, the solemnity and formality of the oral arguments that they conduct—is meant to symbolize the grandeur, neutrality, impersonality, and majesty of the law, and of the Constitution whence it derives.”
“An interlocking web of myths buttresses this imagery. The justices are thought to be brilliant jurists who work extraordinarily hard. They are wise women and men who take the long view and are above the petty squabbling that engulfs the rest of the government. They are apolitical public servants who lead monastic existences devoted solely to the rule of law. Their independence guarantees that they are answerable to no political party or faction, but solely to their conscience and to the US Constitution.”
All of this is nonsense. Historically, the Supreme Court of the United States has been populated mostly by people of decidedly ordinary intellect and ability who have gotten pretty cushy jobs through their political connections. The notion that independence—insulation from political accountability—guarantees that justices will be motivated by devotion to the law rests on a logical fallacy. In fact, unaccountability produces just what one would expect: a freedom to indulge personal quirks and obsessions.
In some ways, the more serious problem is not flagrant incompetence but plain-vanilla mediocrity. For every Louis Brandeis, there are many Sherman Mintons. For every William Brennan, there are many Gabriel Duvalls. The truth is that most of the justices have gained their seats because of inside connections, political deals, or ideological commitments. Their performance on the bench is consistent with what one would expect from individuals selected on this basis.
John Roberts worked at the White House for Reagan and Bush. Alito also worked at the Office of Legal Counsel at the White House under Bush. Stephen Breyer was Counsel to the Judiciary Committee when it was under Democratic control. Elena Kagan was friends with Obama when they both taught at University of Chicago. She became his Solicitor General.
Kavanaugh drafted the Starr Report accusing Clinton of impeachable crimes and worked for Bush during the Florida recount.
There is nothing dishonorable about service in any of these positions. Still, it strains credulity to believe that the justices suddenly shed their political predispositions upon assuming the bench. They are political.
And some are hacks. Thomas didn’t recuse himself from a case involving Dick Cheney even though they were hunting buddies.
In overturning Roe this Court is telling us they are through with the abortion issue. There is nothing in the Constitution granting such a right. The matter will be regulated in the states. Don’t come back to this Court.
This decision puts lots of “rights” into play. Same sex marriage. Contraception. In-vitro fertilization. Abortion pills. The bat shit crazy one issue voters will come after all these rights, which fell under the Right to Privacy which has been swept away by this Court.
There is no right to privacy any longer.
What to do? Every voter who supported Roe must become a one issue voter in their own state elections. Ask one question.
Do you support abortion rights? Yes or no.
Then vote the fascists out. If you can’t get an abortion in Oklahoma, it ain’t my fault.