Why were two Supreme Court decisions made public just after the fifth hearing of the Jan. 6 Committee? One decision protected the rights of gun owners to openly carry weapons in public. The other took away a woman’s right to bodily autonomy.
Were these decisions made public now to divert the media away from reporting on the Jan. 6 Hearings and the crimes of a former President who tried to make himself a forever President and destroy the constitution? Or to reassure the GOP base that their mission is still proceeding as planned? Or distract from headlines about over 100,000 people being killed by gun violence since DJT ran for President in 2016? Or headlines about racist, hate and lie-fueled assaults on black people and election officials?
A blog in the Daily Kos by blogger, political organizer, and author of the book American Taliban, Markos Moulitsas expressed the essence of what I have been feeling and thinking about the Supreme Court decision. It was clearly and unfortunately not just an assault on a woman’s right to abortion and to full healthcare, privacy, and bodily autonomy. And contrary to what 5 Conservative Supreme Court Justices and many media outlets have said, the ruling is not simply about turning the decision about abortion over to the states.
It sacrifices women to a political agenda, to a right-wing assault on democracy. This assault is particularly dangerous to women with low incomes and women of color who have less access to contraceptives and good healthcare and can’t afford to go to other states or nations for abortions.
The assault advances minority rule in this nation. According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans think abortion should be legal in some or all cases, so this decision clearly goes against the will of most Americans. The Supreme Court itself represents rule by the minority. The court was stacked with 3 justices chosen by a President who took office with the approval of only a minority of voters, chosen by an electoral college that advances minority rule, an electoral system gerrymandered to favor one party and regulations passed by many right-wing controlled states to suppress the participation of Democrats and people of color.
Even more, as Justice Thomas wrote in his opinion, the decision sets up the reconsideration, meaning reversal, of other Supreme Court due process rulings and precedents, so other rights, like to contraception, interracial and gay marriage, can all be taken away. So, the rights of any group not white, Christian, straight and male could be threatened.
We constantly hear about how the midterms mean the end of Democratic control of Congress. But Moulitsas makes clear two crucial points. First, it might be the general trend that the political party in power often loses control of Congress in midterm election, due to the supporters of those in power not turning out to vote in as great numbers as those dissatisfied by being out of power. But this is only a trend.
And I am sick of hearing this past trend repeatedly spoken of as future fact. What will happen is what we the people decide will happen. Repeating this prediction of the future as an established fact of the future only serves to further suppress the majority from voting.
The GOP, and many media outlets further aim to suppress the Democratic vote by repeating disinformation about President Biden. Considering the divisiveness he is facing, the viciousness of the opposition, many of whose members actually supported a violent assault on their own government, the pandemic, the war, Biden has done rather well. His administration has been considerably more humane and competent than many past administrations.
Secondly, due to this rule by a minority, the Democrats are not in control. We have a Democratic President and a majority in the House. They have a technical majority in the Senate only if we ignore Democrats Joe Manchin’s and Kyrsten Sinema’s constant protections of GOP rule. The Senate is split 50-50 yet Democrats represent 41.5 million more people than the GOP. And clearly the GOP control the Supreme Court. So, Democrats, or democrats, do not control the government despite a clear majority in voting numbers.
So, when we talk about voters who are not in power being motivated by the loss of power and/or the actions of the party in power, we need to wake up to the reality. The assault on women, the proclaimed future assault on our rights, the protection of the profits of gun companies over the health and safety of children and all of us and over the stability of our nation⎼ these are clear examples that Democrats are not in power.
Yet, democrats can and will (I hope) work to get out the vote. Will vote in large numbers despite their polling places being limited, despite longer lines and possible harassment. We will vote. And we will do all we can to assure a fair counting of those votes. The fact that so many have taken to the streets to peacefully protest the anti-abortion ruling and many called for the impeachment of any Justices who lied to the Senate in their hearings, I hope will not only pressure legislative action to protect abortion but motivate millions to go to the polls in November.
Chris Hayes on MSNBC pointed out how rare it is that rights have been taken away from us and how often the Supreme Court in the past has been central to reactionary efforts to deny rights, working to undo what most of the rest of society had done to create a multiracial democracy. A blatant example is the malignant Dred Scott decision, which denied citizenship to a former slave who was residing in a free state and thus supported the enslavement of black people by whites.
On this same program with Hayes was NYU Law Professor Melissa Murray and New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister who made very clear that this ruling is not a one-time assault and not just about abortion. Rebecca Traister said the message that things will be ok is an anesthetizing message. We must take the badness and injustice and yet continue the work. “We must use hope not as a feel- good measure. But to regard it as a tactical necessity and a moral and civic responsibility.” No matter how frightened we have become or how much we worry that our efforts will not bear fruit, we must act. If not for the immediate moment, then to build on each of all our efforts toward a better future.
The positive take away from Moulitsas, Hayes, Murray, Traister, and so many others is this: The importance of what we say and do over the next 5 to 6 months, or 2 plus years, is clearly revealed. These decisions by the Supreme Court can, and must, be used to change the whole election calculus and supply further motivation to reverse the old trend of midterm elections. We can and must expand the number of Democrats in Congress. We can and must change how we talk about and work for the future and the next election. If we didn’t have a good chance of succeeding, a good chance of expanding democracy, protecting our rights, creating a more caring community, the GOP wouldn’t be so obvious or desperate in what they do to stop us.
We have a one or two or thousand issue election coming up in November. If we value a woman’s right of autonomy over her own body, we must vote for every candidate who supports that right. If we value our right and our children’s right to safety, and to live without fear of gun violence, we must vote for every candidate who supports legal controls on gun ownership. And in practically every case, this means voting for every Democrat. This is not the end of what we want and need, but the beginning of saving our lives and improving the outlook of our future.
*This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.