Chama River, near Abiquiu, NM – 2022 photo by James C. Wilson
Wrongo’s last column spoke about how the Republican Party had become the Party of White Christian Nationalists. And that was before the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked to the world. It seems that this likely decision is a key example of how radical Christians are assuming a political role in America that isn’t dissimilar to the Taliban’s in Afghanistan.
Justice Alito’s draft opinion reinforces the view that there’s a very dangerous Christian movement afoot in our nation. It’s not enough for them to live in a country where they are completely free to practice their own religious beliefs. They require the rest of us to live by their religious code, too.
Two thoughts: First about the Court’s legitimacy in the eyes of the public when they overturn a 50-year-old precedent. The Editorial Board of the WaPo summarized the damage to the legitimacy of the Court that Justice Alito is likely to inflict:
“The Court’s legitimacy rests on the notion that it follows the law, not the personal or ideological preferences of the justices who happen to serve on it at any given time….What brought the Court to its current precipice was not a fundamental shift in American values regarding abortion. It was the [result of] shameless legislative maneuvering of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who jammed two Trump-nominated justices onto the Court.”
For some time, you’ve been able to predict the votes of Supreme Court Justices by knowing the Party of the president that appointed them. That is particularly true if the issue is either overtly political or a Culture War proxy for Republican Party doctrine.
The American people want to believe the law is fair and impartial, because everyone wants to live in a just and predictable society. But this isn’t what Conservatives want. Their so-called love of religion and love of authority move them to reduce or eliminate voting rights, and now, to eliminate women’s rights.
Second, Wrongo thinks that the Conservative Court has gone a political bridge too far. Most polls show that the rights granted in the Roe v. Wade decision are broadly popular, even among Republicans. And Americans have lived with those rights for almost 50 years, assuming it was an inviolable Constitutional right, you know, like owning a gun.
Heather Cox Richardson says that the Supreme Court has never before taken away a Constitutional right. That means there will certainly be a political backlash against those who have supported this attack against women specifically, and against privacy rights in general.
Pew reports that women are more likely than men to express support for legal abortion (62% vs. 56%). And among adults under age 30, 67% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 61% of adults in their 30s and 40s.
This describes the foundation of a political movement: Young women as the vanguard of an anti-Republican crusade (pardon the Christian pun). We also know that young people historically have had the lowest voter turnout, dating back to the 1960s. Here’s a graph showing what percentage of women have voted by age group:
It was only in 2020 that very young women reached the 50% turnout level for the first time in 50 years. They still lag all other age groups in voting. This means that a wealth of untapped political power lies waiting to be flexed this fall, and overturning Roe is the spark that can light the fire.
Add to that Black and Hispanic women who according to a Guttmacher Institute report are, respectively, three and two times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than white women. Nationally, Black women had 37% of abortions, white women had 34%, and Hispanic women had 22%. Black women are also more than three times more likely to suffer a pregnancy-related death compared to white women.
Pew also reported that two-thirds of Asian (68%), and Black adults (67%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 58% of Hispanic adults.
All of this creates the basis for a national political movement to defeat anti-abortion candidates at local, state, and national levels. Think about how a young woman like Mallory McMorrow who spoke so effectively against the Republican Culture War, could be a leader in the fight.
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball lists seven states that offer the biggest potential for a Democratic backlash driven by abortion rights: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Each of these states has a highly competitive gubernatorial or Senate race on tap for this fall, and several of them have two.
Before you say it’s impossible, remember that in Ireland in 2012, the death of a young woman who had been denied a medically necessary abortion became a rallying cry for the abortion rights movement. In 2018, this Catholic country held a referendum to change their Constitution to legalize abortion, which passed with over 66% support.
The non-Christian-radical path forward is via the ballot box, where women should be poised to lead us to a rebuilt society. Even as the Roberts Court and Republicans turn their backs on the Constitution, we must still embrace it.
The Roberts Court’s radical Christian majority is, intentionally or not, administering a fatal blow to the Court’s legitimacy.