My anger having somewhat subsided, I can probably do a better job writing about last week’s biggest political story now than I could have when it broke (over two days). They say timing is everything in life and the fact that I read Presumed Guilty: How The Supreme Court Empowered The Police Subverting Civil Rights by Edwin Chemerinsky last week probably gave me a unique perspective on the event.
Basically via non-action the Supreme Court effectively overturned Roe v Wade last week. This is part of the cowardly pattern the Court has used in recent years. The item was part of a so-called shadow docket case when Texas enacted an anti-choice law that was both clearly unconstitutional and obscured the legal concept of standing to the point it all but obliterated it. I am clear eyed and expected this Court to overturn Roe but I thought it would have the courage to do it via a full hearing and then announce it as it quickly exited Washington next June. Again, I am guilty of overestimating the courage and integrity of the current Court majority.
Theoretically Roe is still law and the Texas law in question certainly violates it. If the Court wanted the Texas law to stand they needed to hold full hearings and in the process overturn Roe. After a delay of two days the Court issued a one paragraph ruling simply denying a petition to stay the Texas law. This was basically a case of the Court ruling from it’s living rooms and then on a delayed basis.
The Texas law is a dandy to start with! Constraints will only allow me to cover some of its provisions. It outlaws abortions at detection of fetal heartbeat (basically 6 weeks). At that point most women don’t even know they are pregnant. There is no exception for incest or rape. I won’t expand on that; if you are not outraged at that non-provision do yourself a favor and stop reading.
The state will not be enforcing the law through its law enforcement agencies; instead, it basically creates a vigilante force. Any Texan can bring suit against anyone aiding or preforming an abortion past fetal heartbeat. That includes anyone who counsels, finances, shelters or transports the women to a facility. The accused is libel for not less than $10,000 payable to the accuser, not the state. That effectively puts a bounty on the heads of the accused and motivates accusers. If they lose, they are also responsible to pay the accuser’s court costs and attorney’s fees. If they should happen to prevail the accuser has no such liability.
This gets me to the issue of standing. Normally in order to sue someone you have to have been damaged (in legal lingo have standing). The Court often, (in my opinion too often), uses standing as a way to dodge making a decision. It simply dismisses a case saying the claimant lacks standing. The most egregious example of that is in City of Los Angles v Lyons. In it Mr. Lyons was chocked by a police officer to the point that he suffered permanent damage to his larynx. He sued to get the Los Angles Police Department to ban the use of chokeholds. The Court declared that because he could not prove that he was likely to suffer the same fate again that he lacked standing.
I expected the Court to formally overturn Roe in June via the Dobbs decision (the case has out of Mississippi has not been heard yet) unless it declares it moot based on this one paragraph ruling which was issued when the East Coast was already asleep. I expect that vote to be 6-3. At least Chief Justice John Roberts dissented from the stay denial; I don’t expect him to vote to sustain Roe.
If Dobbs get a hearing and the decision is announced in June as anticipated, I expect it help the Democrat politically. That is not the point! Americans have a very short political attention span and memory. By November of 2022 they will not remember a Court “ruling” from September of 2021 but they may remember one from June of 2022. This is all the more reason I smell a rat from the extremely partisan Court majority and suspect they may try to find a way around formally ruling on Dobbs.
This is another battle in the war Republicans have been waging on women for decades. It appears this battle is lost and I’m shocked that we don’t have millions in the streets protesting. If we gave up on women so easily what is next and what will it take for the voices to be heard?
Voter suppression, intimidation (via similar vigilante actions) and outright voter nullification are in full swing in red states. The Court rules in the Republicans’ favor on all voting issues. Is the next thing we give up democracy itself?
Under the Texas law a plaintiff has four years to file suit. How does somebody with a set of binoculars and too much time on there hands have standing in an abortion case?
The greatest current short term danger to America is domestic terrorism and the next greatest is the Supreme Court!
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