In our constant state of chaos, it’s hard to imagine that the Trump administration is accomplishing anything. Behind the scenes, though, Trump and the GOP Senate are quietly ensuring that his stain will remain on the country for perhaps a generation, if not longer. But now, one of the leaders of the Religious Right thinks that anti-abortion zealots may have overplayed their hand.
Over the last few weeks, it seems as though the most red states are watching “The Handmaid’s Tale” as an instructional on how to turn women into baby vessels, and even imprison women who choose to take control over their own bodies and fates.
Since the start of 2019, a dozen states have passed anti-abortion laws that are so restrictive, that a woman could become a felon for miscarrying a fetus, even before knowing she’s pregnant.
Lawmakers in all these states know that under current Supreme Court rulings, overly restrictive abortion laws are unconstitutional. That’s beside the point, though. For the Right, the ultimate goal is to change federal law, and that can only happen once these state laws make their way to the Supreme Court, which, of course, has been hijacked by Mitch McConnell and GOP lawmakers. It’s long been the goal of Republicans to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 landmark case in which the Supreme Court decided that a women’s right to privacy supersedes a man’s desire to control her body.
Until Tuesday, it seemed that women’s rights were about to go the way of landlines and cassette tapes.
Most of the new spate of laws outlaw abortions after six weeks, which is before many women even know they’re pregnant. Alabama, though, decided to take a different tack. They’re going for the jugular, and completely outlawing abortions with a single exception, when the mother’s life is at risk.
The legislation bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison. It includes an exception for cases when the mother’s life is at serious risk, but not for cases of rape or incest — a subject of fierce debate among lawmakers in recent days.
Source: NY Times
This law, and the others recently passed, won’t last long. Lower courts will overturn most, if not all of them, because they clearly violate Roe v Wade precedent, which legalizes abortion until a baby can live outside the womb, at about 24 weeks. That doesn’t matter to the Religious Right, though. Their goal is to re-litigate Roe v Wade in front of McConnell’s and Trump’s shiny new conservative majority Supreme Court. There’s a very good chance that women’s rights could be sent back to the Mid 20th Century, but Alabama’s new law isn’t helping their cause, at least according to Robertson on Tuesday’s 700 Club:
“It’s an extreme law and they want to challenge Roe vs. Wade but my humble view is that this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose,” he said.
“The Alabama case, God bless them, they’re trying to do something, but I don’t think that’s the case that I’d want to bring to the Supreme Court,” he later reiterated.
Robertson is hardly pro-choice. He’s long compared abortion to murder. He loves nothing more than the idea of God (or in this case, the justice system) punishing those who dare have sex without the goal of procreation. You can be sure that overturning Roe v Wade is top on the 89-year-old’s bucket list. Robertson, though, appears to be more of a realist than Alabama’s lawmakers. He knows that Americans and the Supreme Court likely don’t have the stomachs to imprison doctors and women.
Robertson is probably right that the Supreme Court will be a bit squeamish about upholding Alabama’s law. You can almost bet that lower courts will overturn the law, and while Alabama is hoping the Supremes will resurrect their law, they probably won’t. If the law is heard in front of the Supreme Court, it could demonstrate that the slippery slope is real, and that even an incremental approach is dangerous.
That doesn’t mean, though, that Roe is safe. While the most likely fate of Alabama’s law is that it will be dead on arrival, the Supreme Court can simply refuse to hear the case, meaning that other, less restrictive state laws, can chip away at precedent.
Three of the nine justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, are itching to overturn the 46-year-old precedent. Trump’s second appointee, the anti-choice Justice Brett Kavanaugh, has shown a bit of restraint in his first few months on the bench, so we can only speculate on how he’ll rule. It might leave the deciding vote with Chief Justice John Roberts, who is deeply conservative, but often uncomfortable with overturning legal precedent.
Roberts isn’t always uncomfortable with overturning precedent, though. His court’s five conservative justices recently did just that, in a case that’s unrelated to abortion, but may still be an omen of things to come.
The Supreme Court made clear on Monday that Roe v. Wade may soon no longer be the law of the land. The decision, Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, actually has nothing to do with abortion; it concerns when one state may be sued in another state’s courts.
But Hyatt has everything to do with the Supreme Court’s respect for precedent. And respect for precedent is one of the few things, if not the only thing, that stands between the conservative Roberts court and overruling Roe v. Wade. Hyatt made clear that the five conservative justices are perfectly content to overrule a precedent merely because they disagree with it. That should raise alarm bells about Roe, particularly as states enact draconian restrictions on abortion.
In Hyatt, the justices were asked to overrule the court’s 1979 decision in Nevada v. Hall, which held that an individual could sue a state in the courts of a different state.
Source: NY Times
Ultimately, overturning Roe v Wade could backfire on the GOP, at least electorally. Polling shows that the vast majority of Americans, 79 percent, believe that abortion should be legal under some circumstances. Americans are evenly split on whether we are pro-life or pro-choice. About 1/3 want to make abortions illegal in most circumstances, and 43 percent think abortion should remain legal in most cases.
Between the fact that we have an admitted sexual predator in the White House, an accused sexual predator on the Supreme Court, and a Republican Party who steals a Supreme Court seat just so they can infringe on women’s rights, women are energized, and we are 51 percent of the electorate.
Unfortunately, it could be too little too late, at least for a while. Court appointments are for life. After years of the GOP Senate blocking President Obama’s court nominees, Trump and the Senate are packing the federal courts with conservative justices. One day soon, even lower courts could uphold Alabama’s law. That leaves young women to fight for the rights their mothers and grandmothers thought they had put behind them.