Opinion: Alito's draft opinion is as unpopular as it is radical - CNN

  
Via:  Gsquared  •  2 months ago  •  24 comments

By:   CNN

Opinion: Alito's draft opinion is as unpopular as it is radical - CNN
There is perhaps no greater farce than Justice Samuel Alito's appeal to democracy in his draft opinion on abortion, writes historian Nicole Hemmer, who argues anti-abortion extremism, already an unpopular and deadly force in US politics, will kill more Americans.

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The right-wing majority on the current Supreme Court was selected by politicians representing a minority of the American people who intend that it to become another political branch of government promoting their minority views.

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S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The US has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrial world.

If the draft of Justice Samuel Alito's opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization becomes the framework for the Supreme Court decision on abortion, that rate will likely climb even higher.

US health care and political systems routinely fail those who are pregnant, failures that have grown even deadlier in recent years. Even before Covid-19 spiked maternal mortality in the US, rates were still on the rise, especially among Black women. If -- and it is probably now when -- the court overturns Roe, the combination of less-regulated abortion services and more girls and women being forced to carry pregnancies to term will ensure an even higher number of pregnancy-related deaths in the US.

The draft opinion reminds us these high death rates are the near-certain result of a political choice -- but not a democratic one. For all the talk of Roe v. Wade as a polarizing decision, Americans are not polarized on the question of whether it should remain in place. Though it's too soon for polling on this draft opinion, a January CNN poll shows 69% of Americans oppose a court ruling that would overturn Roe, consistent with other polling over the years. The Alito opinion is both radical and unpopular.

And even if it weren't, it represents a grotesque violation of women's right to bodily autonomy and personhood. The US legal system has a twisted history of weaponizing bodily autonomy to deny full citizenship to certain Americans, but its centrality to citizenship rights is present even today in other forms. The temporary loss of autonomy through imprisonment can lead to other limits on citizenship, such as the right to vote. And for women in the US, liberation has always been tied in some way to bodily autonomy: until the 1970s, women's legal identity was mostly erased by marriage, leaving some of their most intimate decisions -- from their fertility to their decisions to have sex -- in the hands of others. Stripping women of reproductive control is not just a loss of medical autonomy but a loss of full membership in the body politic.

The erosion of that autonomy happened in both slow and dramatic fashion. There is an important story about incrementalist politics and the anti-abortion movement, one that historians have carefully detailedin recent years. But the 50-year war against Roe is not just a story of political strategy and institution-building but also one of violence and anti-democratic power grabs. At least 11 people have been killed in attacks on abortion clinics and providers since 1993. There have been dozens of bombings targeting abortion providers, nearly 200 cases of arson and hundreds of episodes of assault, vandalism and bioterror threats.

But it was an act of procedural radicalism that determined Roe's fate: the unprecedented move by Senate Republicans to keep former President Barack Obama from filling an open seat on the Supreme Court. Those same procedural radicals now wring their hands about norms, shamelessly huffing about institutional integrity as they argue against acts like ending the filibuster or expanding the Supreme Court. They are free to play-act a commitment to principles other than power; everyone else is free to point out what a farce it is.

There is perhaps no greater farce than Alito's appeal to democracy in his draft opinion. He maintains voters, not courts, should decide whether abortion is legal. Overturning Roe, he argues, in fact empowers women, because it "allows women on both sides of the abortion issue to seek to affect the legislative process by influencing public opinion, lobbying legislators, voting, and running for office."

Except the very court he sits on has restricted those rights: deciding a presidential election by stopping the 2000 recount (Bush v. Gore), diluting voters' lobbying power by allowing unlimited and anonymous campaign spending (Citizens United v. FEC) and gutting the Voting Rights Act (Shelby County v. Holder). As a result of all this, the current court will allow a state to restrict access to both abortion and the ballot box. The escape hatch Alito offers opens on a brick wall.

Those restrictions came at a cost: Trust in the court has fallen in response to repeated unpopular rulings. And though John Roberts has repeatedly placed institutional legitimacy at the center of his work as chief justice, he had already largely failed on that front even before 2020, when he found himself on a court with five justices solidly to his right. Those justices do not share Roberts' concerns with appearance and are likely to follow the decision to overturn Roe with other unpopular rulings.

Though Alito assures readers that overturning Roe will not threaten other basic rights (just as Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch assured Americans they considered Roe to be settled law), there is no reason to believe that is the case. The legal justifications underpinning the right to an abortion are foundational to other key decisions as well: Griswold v. Connecticut, which ruled states could not outlaw contraception; Loving v. Virginia, which ruled states could not outlaw interracial marriage; Lawrence v. Texas, which ruled that states could not outlaw sodomy; and Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled states could not outlaw same-sex marriage. If you're comforting yourself with the fantasy they wouldn't go that far, think again: Republicans are already eyeing Obergefell.

Those future consequences matter. But the draft opinion in Dobbs is important even without the ripple effects. Because this is ultimately a decision that will affect millions of women and their control over their bodies, their lives, their futures. And, to be clear, this decision will have a body count. Nor will the tradeoff be a dramatic decline in abortion. Abortions occur whether the procedure is legal or not.

Of course, if the lack of exception to recent abortion bans for the life of the mother is any indication, not even more dead mothers will likely change right-wing radicalism on abortion. A party that calls itself pro-life has already (in tandem with the gun lobby) rejected popular and necessary actions that would curb gun deaths and Covid-19 deaths. Dead mothers, dead 6-year-olds, dead grandparents: None of these sympathetic victims has moderated the American right. Get our free weekly newsletter

That means people who are committed to protecting maternal and reproductive health have an enormous, multipronged fight ahead. The most immediate work must be to fund and strengthen groups providing reproductive health care to those cut off from it. That work must take place alongside efforts to improve maternal health outcomes and support new parents both physically and economically.

At the same time, supporters of reproductive health care must also engage in a much larger project to build a liberal democratic order to replace the illiberal order that now governs the US. That new order must protect basic rights, meet basic needs and enable robust participation in representative communities and governments. That is a daunting project to undertake, but if activism stops at the ballot box, then the move to overturn Roe will be just one more deplorable act by a government that neither abides by the will of the majority nor protects the rights of the vulnerable.

Nicole Hemmer is an associate research scholar at Columbia University with the Obama Presidency Oral History Project and the author of "Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics" and the forthcoming "Partisans: The Conservative Revolutionaries Who Remade American Politics in the 1990s." She cohosts the history podcasts "Past Present" and "This Day in Esoteric Political History."  .


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Gsquared
Senior Expert
1  seeder  Gsquared    2 months ago

Alito is a hard-core reactionary activist intent on remaking America into a hollowed out democracy.  

 
 
 
al Jizzerror
Sophomore Expert
1.1  al Jizzerror  replied to  Gsquared @1    2 months ago

Alito is a woman hater.

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
1.1.1  seeder  Gsquared  replied to  al Jizzerror @1.1    2 months ago

Alito hates democracy.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
1.1.2  Sean Treacy  replied to  Gsquared @1.1.1    2 months ago
Alito hates democracy.

Do you believe that words have meaning? [Deleted.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
1.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Gsquared @1    2 months ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
1.2.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.2    2 months ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
1.2.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.2.1    2 months ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2  Kavika     2 months ago

Alito had a much different view when he was answering questions during his appearance before congress for his appointment to the Supreme Court. 

On Jan. 11, 2006, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) interrogated the nominee extensively about overruling Roe and Casey , including women’s reliance upon the rulings for participating equally in the economic and social life of the nation by controlling their reproductive lives. Alito responded : “[T]he doctrine of stare decisis is a very important doctrine…It’s important because it limits the power of the judiciary. It’s important because it protects reliance interests. And it’s important because it reflects the view that courts should respect the judgments and wisdom that are embodied in prior judicial decisions.”   

Stare decisis is  the doctrine that courts will adhere to precedent in making their decisions . Stare decisis means “to stand by things decided” in Latin.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3  Sean Treacy    2 months ago

Did the author read the draft opinion? This reads like a PP produced document that could have been sitting in someone's desk for years and just brushed off with light update edits (Insert Alito for author).

[deleted]

Imagine thinking this decision could possible impact inter racial marriage, a case decided under equal protection. 

[deleted]

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
3.1  seeder  Gsquared  replied to  Sean Treacy @3    2 months ago

Based on Comment 3, it is becoming increasingly clear that reactionaries, just like Alito in his draft opinion, won't hesitate to spread false and misleading propaganda in furtherance of their goal to fundamentally transform (deform) the American way of life.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3.1.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  Gsquared @3.1    2 months ago

Outstanding example of using buzz words  and name calling to totally avoid making a substantive point. 

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
3.2  Dulay  replied to  Sean Treacy @3    2 months ago
The really sad and eminently  predictable part is the fear mongering designed to scare gullible liberals who don't understand what's happening. 

Oh please do explain to me what's happening Sean. /s

Imagine thinking this decision could possible impact inter racial marriage, a case decided under equal protection.  

No need to 'imagine' since Roe was decided under the due process clause and Loving under BOTH the equal protection clause AND the due process clause. 

Desperate times call for desperate lies, I guess.  

What lies are you talking about Sean? 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3.2.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  Dulay @3.2    2 months ago
ce Roe was decided under the due process clause and Loving under BOTH the equal protection clause AND the due pr

Do you understand what that means? Even if you removed the "due process" rationale, it would stand under the Equal Protection clause.  Dobbs only involves substantive due process. So, again, in no way is Alito's opinion a threat to interracial marriage.   Think these things through. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
4  Drinker of the Wry    2 months ago

US health care and political systems routinely fail those who are pregnant, failures that have grown even deadlier in recent years.

That's an indictment of our health care system, how it's paid for and US patient behavior, it's not a SCOTUS problem to correct.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
4.1  JBB  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @4    2 months ago

As if access to termination services as a result of problem pregnancies or damages fetuses was not part and parcel of women's reproductive healthcare.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
5  Nerm_L    2 months ago

The maternal mortality rate indicates the quality of healthcare in the United States.  And the United States is spending plenty on healthcare; much more than many of the countries in the industrialized world.  The maternal mortality rate tells us absolutely nothing about elective abortions.  The article is attempting to deliberately mislead to make specious arguments.

The abortion rate of the United States is considerably higher than across Europe.  How do European countries avoid higher rates of unintended pregnancies experienced by the United States?  

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
5.1  JBB  replied to  Nerm_L @5    2 months ago

Mandatory sex education and easing access to all forms of birth control without parental or spousal approvala or notifications drastically reduces the demand for termination services in liberal nations.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
5.1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  JBB @5.1    2 months ago

The USA is not a liberal nation.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
5.1.2  JBB  replied to  Greg Jones @5.1.1    2 months ago

Which explains why our demand for abortions is so much higher than in Sweden or Norway...

Making abortions illegal does not stop the demand for termination services because that is dictated by the incidence of unwanted pregnancies. Only by eliminating unwanted pregnancies will abortions be eliminated...

Polls slways how two out of three Americans support women's reproductive choice.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
5.1.3  devangelical  replied to  Greg Jones @5.1.1    2 months ago

it's closer to liberal than it is to a christo-fascist shit hole that others would seem to prefer...

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
5.1.4  JBB  replied to  devangelical @5.1.3    2 months ago

Yes, and the truth Norm is avoiding is that unlike liberal democracies like Sweden and Norway, in countries like Czechoslovakia and Poland where abortions are mostly illegal the true abortion rate is about twice what it is here because the main driver of demand for terminations is already having more children than can be provided for. Catholic countries!

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
5.1.5  Nerm_L  replied to  JBB @5.1    2 months ago
Mandatory sex education and easing access to all forms of birth control without parental or spousal approvala or notifications drastically reduces the demand for termination services in liberal nations.

Is that why New York, New Jersey, and Maryland have the highest abortion rates in the US? 

An argument can be made that ready access to abortion increases the rate of abortion.  But claiming that birth control and access without parental or spousal approval needs to be backed up by something other liberal talking points.  Where's the facts?

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
5.1.6  JBB  replied to  Nerm_L @5.1.5    2 months ago

Yes, you could make silly arguments, but they don't change the fact that demand for abortion services results from unwanted pregnancies. Ergo, no unwanted pregnancies equals no abortions except to save a mother.

 
 
 
Jack_TX
Senior Quiet
5.2  Jack_TX  replied to  Nerm_L @5    2 months ago
How do European countries avoid higher rates of unintended pregnancies experienced by the United States?  

They're not as religious as we are.  Their cultural norms regarding sex are not still rooted in the Victorian Era.  

 
 

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