The radicalism of the Supreme Court's conversative bloc is eroding the will of the majority.
In striking down Roe v. Wade—and 50 years of legal precedent along with it—the Supreme Court delivered the capstone achievement of the modern conservative movement in America. That is, not only to severely restrict or ban abortion access but to undermine the will of the majority across the entire political landscape.
The fact that the moment was made possible thanks to the confirmation of three justices nominated by a president who secured 3 million fewer votes than his vanquished opponent is a painful illustration of our current reality.
As extremists often do when disguised as neutral actors representing a venerated institution, Justice Samuel Alito framed his majority opinion as a common-sense measure that reflects time-honored traditions.
"It's time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives,” Alito wrote in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. He cited Justice Antonin Scalia—the grandfather of reactionary conservatism—in a dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which upheld Roe: “The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations, upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.”
Citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting. Simple and elegant, right?
Of course, Alito and his fellow ideologues on the Court are not stupid. They knew there would be no vigorous debate or democratic contest in the more than dozen states with “trigger” abortion bans awaiting the overturning of Roe. They knew another slew of states would rush to enact draconian restrictions of their own. And they knew that in battleground states like Georgia and Pennsylvania, years of gerrymandering had locked in a structural advantage for Republicans in state legislative races.
In Oklahoma and Wisconsin, two of the eight states with outright bans now in effect, a majority or plurality of adults believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases. In another, Missouri, public opinion is split. Even in Texas, the group saying abortion should be illegal in most or all cases stands at 48 percent, barely eclipsing the cohort supportive of abortion rights. Meanwhile, GOP-dominated legislatures in Florida and Ohio, which are not quite as red as you’d assume looking at the makeup of those chambers, passed 15- and 6-week bans, respectively, despite clear majorities in each state backing abortion rights.
The conservative cabal that now dictates national policy from the bench is not interested in handing important questions back to the people—at least not the people they work tirelessly to disenfranchise and disempower. To Alito and the legion of partisans at his back, the democratic process is legitimate when—and only when—political power rests in the hands of the few rather than the many.
In the wake of Roe’s demise, with women left to navigate vital health care decisions amid a patchwork of state laws and the Court’s public standing at historic lows, all that matters to the movement that spawned this nightmare is that they laid one more brick along the path to minority rule. - MS
Neglect is built into the system
In the 24 states where abortion is banned or is likely to be, the rates of uninsured women and children are markedly higher than in the 20 states where it is unlikely to be banned. Infant mortality is 34 percent higher in states hostile to abortion rights, and maternal mortality is 68 percent higher.
Best listen for the week
This is a digestible conversation on climate change that actually left me feeling somewhat optimistic. (!?!?)