Thanks to Pro Publica the world was given a glimpse into the inner chambers of the United States Supreme Court. And by releasing a draft of a majority decision abolishing abortion rights nationwide, written by Samuel Alito we now understand the agenda of the six Republican appointees in full.
And we have now learned the very hard way something that rightwing ideologues learned a long time ago – elections really do matter.
But first, it is impossible to overstate the unrestrained vigor with which the neoconservatives sitting on the bench are going about dismantling the rights that have been established as bedrock principles during the past 75 years. It is only by reconfiguring the interpretation of the Constitution that the Supreme Court was able to dismantle the infrastructure of race-based segregation and discrimination that had been sanctioned by American local, state and federal governments for centuries.
And it was only by reconfiguring the interpretation of the Constitution that the Supreme Court was able to eliminate governmental bans on everything from abortion to same sex marriage to interracial marriage as well as articulating a definition of civil rights for the modern era. And it was by interpretation that the Court was able to adapt the Constitution to the expectations of the vast majority of Americans.
But interpretation is only a jurisprudential tool. Its utility depends on who is wielding that tool. And by interpreting the Constitution in such a way as to ban abortion the door is now wide open for other actions. If anyone thinks that a ban on same sex marriage isn’t on its way, they haven’t been paying attention. Same sex marriage and gender equity are low hanging fruit for the Gang of Six and it is clear that they are just getting warmed up.
Clearly a 5-4 conservative majority was not enough to totally fulfill the hopes and dreams of the right wing of the right wing. Now, with a 6-3 super majority, there is no limit to the existential damage that they are planning to do to scaffolding of rights and expectations of millions of Americans.
Affirmative action is on the neoconservative hit list along with the rights for the differently able. We can expect expansion of the use of the death penalty and the dismantling of worker safety protections and the protection of the environment. Fair housing, fair fair voting and fairness itself – are now all endangered species.
And the sad part is that it did not have to happen this way. While it is true that the Bush legacy is complicit in this crime against America (Bush I appointed Clarence Thomas – Bush II appointed John Roberts and Samuel Alito), history will record that it was Donald Trump who removed all the guard rails of liberty, freedom and fairness for a generation by his appointment of Barrett, Gorsuch and Kavanagh.
But it did not have to happen this way. Trump only became president because the neoconservatives and evangelicals were laser focused on one thing – the Supreme Court. And being the canny con man that he is, Trump was more than happy to make and keep keep his promise to the right wing.
And while the neoconservatives and evangelicals were laser focused in 2016, the liberals and progressives sweated the small stuff – some people, too many people, didn’t vote or voted for a fringe candidate or even voted for Trump (a very self-destructive move to be sure) because they didn’t “like” Hillary Clinton.
We are sure to witness the evisceration of the rights (like voting rights) that were taken for granted. And now we have learned collectively, once and for all, that elections do matter.
And sadly, we will remember that as we walk through the ashes of broken dreams and expectations, knowing that it just didn’t have to be this way.