My recap of Thursday’s January 6 hearing, headlined “The Fascist Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” went up minutes before the Supreme Court’s six-member Christianist majority struck down the constitutional right to abortion on Friday morning. I winced a little when I saw it on our site, because it suddenly seemed so wrong: When it comes to using the high court to impose minority rule, this fascist gang has been able to shoot very straight—and it will be very deadly.
The ludicrous and corrupt Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination in May 2016, when he produced the names of conservative lawyers and judges he said were on his list of potential Supreme Court nominees. The group was “representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value and, as president, I plan to use this list as a guide to nominate our next United States Supreme Court justices.” The names seemed to come straight from the notebook of right-wing Federalist Society leader Leonard Leo. Trump’s campaign released the list, The New York Times reported the same day, “as part of an effort to quell concerns that he would not select conservative jurists.”
Those concerns were obviously misguided. Thanks to Trump’s three appointees, states can outlaw abortion, but are severely restricted in what limits they can place on gun owners. The January 6 coup attempt failed? Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell will be bragging about his judicial coup in hell.
Legal scholars are parsing the awful impact of Friday’s decision. At least 26 states seem poised to severely restrict, if not ban, abortion. (Read whatever my colleague Elie Mystal writes about this.) Right now, I am interested in the way women are internalizing this terrible news. We knew it was coming in early May: Why are we devastated today? A friend compared it to when a loved one has a terminal illness—you think you’re prepared, but you can’t prepare for it.
Personally, I marvel at my impulse to immediately feel stupid about my January 6 hearing reporting. Hey, it was a good piece, and I wish more people had the time to read it before getting their rights stripped away! I also confess: I feel deeply stupid that part of me had been thinking: Maybe Chief Justice John Roberts was taking the weeks since the draft Roe opinion was leaked to Politico to pull another justice over to his side in the case, maybe to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion law but not totally upend a 50-year precedent? Maybe even beer-loving, women’s-rights hating Brett Kavanaugh? Boy was I wrong. Roberts, of course, concurred.
But I’m not as stupid as Senators Susan Collins or Joe Manchin, both of whom released statements widely mocked on Twitter, expressing their dismay that Kavanaugh and the other Trump appointees, Neil Gorsuch (sorry, Merrick Garland) and Amy Coney Barrett, essentially lied during confirmation hearings about whether they intended to join a majority—a gang, so to speak—to overturn Roe.
“We have seen special-interest groups whip their followers into a frenzy by spreading misrepresentations and outright falsehoods about Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record,” Collins told reporters at the time. As Laura Bassett reports (I can’t believe I don’t remember this), Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse literally called us “hysterical.”
I also didn’t completely remember—I guess it wasn’t “indelible in the hippocampus”—Kavanaugh’s incoherent reply to questions about overturning Roe. He called it
important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times. But then—and this is the point that I want to make that I think is important—Planned Parenthood v. Casey reaffirmed Roe and did so by considering the stare decisis factors. So Casey now becomes a precedent on precedent. It is not as if it is just a run-of-the-mill case that was decided and never been reconsidered, but Casey specifically reconsidered it, applied the stare decisis factors, and decided to reaffirm it. That makes Casey a precedent on precedent.
Precedent on precedent. That’s impressive. Or not.
I already wrote about what a gut punch it was when Justice Samuel Alito’s draft ruling was leaked. I only wish I were in Washington, D.C., to join the many people protesting the court’s decision today. And I wish I felt more optimistic that this will propel the country’s silenced majority to vote in November. I’ll be on the lookout for signs of that, but I can’t promise it right now. I don’t want to be wrong again.