The big news of this past week has been, of course, the unprecedented publication of a draft Supreme Court opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which indicated the likelihood that Roe v. Wade soon might no longer be the law of the land.
Those who favor access to legal abortion are braced for the distinct possibility that these will be illegal or vastly more difficult to obtain in more than half of America’s states should this truly reflect the Court’s thinking regarding this matter. Those who find abortion morally repugnant—particularly the easy availability of late-term abortions in many states—are understandably thrilled that questions surrounding abortion access might soon return to the state level, which is where they were decided before the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
We do not know who leaked this draft Supreme Court opinion, which was a mind blowing breach of judicial etiquette and procedure, but we do know for certain that this won’t end well.
The process of employing overt harassment to sway the votes of the justices in this case is already in motion. Scathing media coverage and alarmist poison pen commentary masquerading as serious journalism have become the order of the day. Justices already have had to curtail their personnel appearances in order to avoid confrontations with abusive crowds. Plans have also been developed to show up at the homes of the justices in order to intimidate them and their families.
Thoughtful discussion is out; mob action is in.
It is unfortunate that Democrats, who have been facing the prospect of an electoral apocalypse in the November midterm elections, are encouraging the most outrageous and outlandish words and actions by abortion advocates, hoping that this will be the issue that makes Americans forget policies of the Biden administration that have driven enormous increases in inflation, violent crime, and illegal immigration—all while putting our national security at risk.
Much as with other previously politically-useful panics over Covid-19, racism, and climate change, the reality and the fantasy often seem wholly disconnected, but this hardly matters to those seeking audiences, power, money, or votes. Fear is a useful organizing tactic—as the last two years have amply demonstrated.
Sadly for our country, Democrats will continue to paint a picture that presumes the roll back of the availability of abortion through legislative actions enacted by duly elected public officials is the beginning of an inevitable fascist tyranny across the land. Apparently democracy is extraordinarily dangerous when it is in the hands of voters instead of judges. To obey the will of the people as determined by their choices of Governors and state legislatures is a fearsome sight to those who hope to short circuit the operation of our Constitution with the continuing assistance of judicial fiats.
If the Supreme Court follows the logic of the draft opinion wrongly released to public, the justices who vote to overturn the iffy logic that undergirded the original Roe v. Wade decision can look forward to years—and perhaps decades—of harassment directed against themselves, their families, neighbors, and acquaintances. Those who revel in punishing those who engage in what they deem to be WrongThink will be merciless in their pursuit of retribution, and abortion advocates obviously hope this prospect will be sufficient to switch the votes needed to change the outcome of this case. This is a terribly divisive and dangerous tactic to use in a democracy, but such are the times we live in today.
Worse yet, should the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade be reversed in the weeks and months ahead, the credibility of the Supreme Court will be shredded, and extremists across the political spectrum will be emboldened to bully any public official whose views differ from their own. The consequences of convincing the worst types of political partisans that intimidation can be used to sway votes are simply too awful to contemplate, and the grim possibility of governance dictated by the loudest, the angriest, and the craziest should give pause to anyone who cares about the future of our nation.
Therefore, the unauthorized and unwelcome release of the internal deliberations of the Supreme Court prior to their final judgement being rendered has created a lose-lose situation where the only possible winners are those who thrill to screaming at strangers or heaving a rock at a police officer—not the sort of people we hope to have leading America in the years ahead.