In a rant about the supreme idiocy of Murdoch ‘ruperter’ (i.e. faux journalist) Adam Creighton1, I briefly explained what the 1973 Roe v Wade decision was about:
“Roe v. Wade, is the legal case in which the US Supreme Court, on January 22, 1973, ruled that unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional. In a majority opinion (7-2), the Court held that a set of Texas statutes criminalising abortion in most instances violated a woman’s constitutional right of privacy, which it found to be implicit in the liberty guarantee of the ‘due process’ clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution (i.e. “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”)”1.
Creighton’s idiocy was in response to the unprecedented leaking of a draft decision by Justice Alito, who is a religious conservative appointed by George W. Bush. At the time, Chief Justice Roberts confirmed the draft’s authenticity, but emphasised that it was not final1. However, with Trump-appointed religious conservatives Gorsuch, Kavanagh and Barrett, it was likely that the decision expressed in this leaked draft would not be changed. And so it proved to be.
In a case before the court (Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization), it decided there is no constitutional right to abortion. In reaching that decision, the court overturned Roe v Wade. This is unusual, because previously the court has almost universally overturned cases to grant people more rights, whereas here it has done the opposite in restricting a constitutional right at least two generations of Americans have grown up taking for granted. As a result of the overturning of Roe v Wade, states will again be permitted to ban or severely restrict abortion2.
And this is likely to happen in as many as 26 out of the 50 states2, as some already have what they call a ‘trigger law’, which is designed to take effect as soon as possible after such a Supreme Court ruling. Some states also still have abortion bans on the books that haven’t been enforced because of the Roe v. Wade decision1.
For a normal person such a decision is hard to understand, as it will condemn some women to death as, out of necessity, they seek abortions in back streets and alleyways. This decision is only difficult to understand until you realise that it is just another manifestation of the religious trying to protect their power and influence, and they will stop at nothing to do so. If people die because of it, that is a small price to pay for them to maintain control over people’s lives. I expect that the religious will not stop there. There will now be a push from some to repeal same-sex marriage, gay rights, transgender rights, contraception and just about anything else which gives people freedom to decide how to live their own lives, or has to do with sex and gender.
The fact that in the US, so many of the religious threw their lot in with Trump demonstrates what is important to them; not morality, not human rights; just power and influence. Trump is perhaps the most appallingly amoral, unethical, venal person to ever be elected to the US presidency and it shows the depths of depravity which the religious have plumbed, to ignore his character, or lack of it, simply because they thought he could do what they wanted.
It seems, one way to overcome this backward leap into the bigoted past is through legislation, which effectively requires 60 votes in the US Senate to pass, and given that the 100 senate seats are fairly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, that is very unlikely3.
The other way to do so is to increase the size of the supreme court, which currently sits at nine justices. Changing the number of justices in the supreme court has not happened since 1869 because it is extremely difficult to do so, as again, it requires the assent of congress. However, the threat to do so in the 1930s allowed Franklin Delano Roosevelt to get much of what he wanted, as the supreme court stopped overturning his legislation4.
While religion is declining throughout the world and in particular in the western world5, the US is dragging the chain in this decline, with only 29% of people being religiously unaffiliated6. Most other western countries are getting up towards the 50% mark or past it, and that is what terrifies the religious so much; they can see the future and it is not what they think they deserve.
The US is at a crossroads. It either continues along the road to theocracy, or it does a u-turn and continues along the road to democracy. While protests are currently limited and peaceful, I suspect it is only a matter of time before more people start to realise what is at stake and things get much more intense7. Many years ago, I listened to an interview with noted Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey, in which he opined that the US would eventually break up. I remember it clearly because it startled me, given that the US had been around for 200 years at that time. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any record of this interview anywhere. While linking Blainey’s suggestion to this one supreme court decision, may be a long bow to draw, if the US does eventually break up in part because of this, it will be ironic that religious people in the US, rabid gun-loving nationalists that they are, will have handed global military dominance to China, a nominally ‘atheist’ country.