Precedence Lost? | Tom Camfield

Tom Camfield
Posted 9/21/21

“FORCES ON THE RIGHT have spent decades maneuvering to install a reliable anti-abortion majority. Now they have one, and it is paying off for them.” When the Supreme Court declined Sept. …

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Precedence Lost? | Tom Camfield


“FORCES ON THE RIGHT have spent decades maneuvering to install a reliable anti-abortion majority. Now they have one, and it is paying off for them.”

When the Supreme Court declined Sept. 2 to block a restrictive Texas abortion law, it was fulfilling the long-held ambitions of a series of committed Republican presidents, senators and conservative activists who worked unceasingly for years to cement a reliable anti-abortion majority on the court.,” said the Times.”McConnell, the court-focused Republican leader, denied one Democratic president the right to fill one Supreme Court seat and then raced to fill another with a GOP nominee before a subsequent Democratic president could take office.

Both decisions transformed the ideological makeup of the court and made last week’s decision possible . . . Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, joined with “mail it in” conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr. (above, lower left) in declining to block the Texas law widely denounced as violating Supreme Court precedent, and putting the court on the precipice of overriding Roe v. Wade.

But in this era where eyes seem to glaze over too many words aimed at reason it’s probably best to turn to the plain talk of someone like columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald. ”As you probably heard,” he wrote,“ Texas’ new anti-abortion law which the Supreme Court refused to block on Wednesday night bars termination of pregnancy after six weeks — long before a woman even knows she’s carrying — with no exception for incest or rape. But it imposes no criminal sanctions.

”Rather it deputizes ordinary citizens into a statewide anti-abortion posse. Henceforth if ‘Joe’ suspects someone has in any way helped a woman end a pregnancy, he can sue that person for $10,000. It doesn’t matter if Joe knows the woman or has any connection whatsoever. If Joe thinks a doctor performed an abortion, or a boyfriend paid for an abortion, or a neighbor simply gave a woman a ride to get an abortion, Joe can sue them, though not the woman herself for $10,000.”

It seems strange way indeed for a state such as Texas to circumvent the national court’s 1973 (some 48 years ago) decision to grant women free right over their bodies under law. “Sanctity of life” for a fertilized egg at the age of six weeks is now being observed in a state where the governor has issued an executive order banning schools from requiring masks to stem the spread if COVID-19. Texas has recorded 3.6 million cases of the disease and more than 57,000 related deaths.

Texas claims to be a state of “freedom,” and one can legally carry an AR-15 rifle down any sidewalk — without a permit or certification of training. In 2020, Texas reported 34 mass shootings that killed 37 and injured 124. A year earlier, the state had 30 mass shootings that killed 73 and injured 142. Among Texas's deadliest shootings last year was one Nov. 18 in Houston that killed three and injured two. The state's bloodiest shootings included one June 12 in San Antonio that injured eight.

As Pitts concludes: “Shame on Texas. Where the man with the AR-15 is free to stroll downtown, and the man with the dead virus is free to doff his mask, but a woman’s uterus is under public surveillance.”

There seems to be some doubt over the effectiveness of the near-immediate counter-attack of the Biden administration. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department will continue to protect women seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services under the "freedom of access to ‘clinical’ access," a 1994 federal law that guarantees access to the entrances of clinics that offer reproductive health services.

So it appears that the usual far-right street violence will precede some form of decisive nature by a right-leaning Supreme Court presently trying tort pass the buck to state officials.