Anti-abortion movement nears victory 29 years after betrayal


The Supreme Court which shocked the world by defending reproductive rights in 1992.
Photo: AFP via Getty Images

After today’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it appears that much of the mystery surrounding the court’s focus on abortion rights has been reduced to a question of details and exact timing. Intelligence’s Irin Carmon explained that while Chief Justice John Roberts fidgeted a bit, expressing a desire for some sort of compromise, a strong bloc formed by longtime anti-abortion judges Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito and fortified by the three people appointed by Donald Trump (Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett) have quite clearly signaled an impatience with any procrastination:

There had been some pre-arguments rumblings that Barrett and Brett kavanaugh could defect, perhaps blocking with Roberts to find common ground like the last time the court considered overturning Roe deer in the years 1992 Planned parenthood v. Casey. On Wednesday neither Barrett nor Kavanaugh seemed inclined to disappoint the move that put them on court.

In short, it sums up the long journey that the anti-abortion movement has traveled over the past 29 years. In 1992, all signs pointed to a reversal of Roe deer v. Wade when a case testing certain Pennsylvania state abortion restrictions came to court. It appeared that the movement’s marriage of convenience with the Republican Party (forged soon after Roe deer and solidified in 1980 when the Republican national platform lambasted reproductive rights and approved a constitutional amendment banning abortion nationwide) would bear fruit. By this time, eight of the judges had been appointed by a Republican president, and the only Democrat appointed (Byron White) was one of the first dissidents in Roe deer. In addition, among the nominated Republicans, one was Roe deer dissenting chief justice William Rehnquist, and five others (Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter and Thomas) had been appointed to the court by strongly anti-abortion presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush. It looked like a slam dunk.

But it was not. As Judge John Paul Stevens (a person appointed by Ford and Roe deer defender) revealed later in his memory 2019, a preliminary draft opinion disseminated by Rehnquist which invalidated Roe deer got five votes. But for the long time before the decision was formulated and announced, Reagan-appointed Kennedy rocked, succumbing to a call from O’Connor and Souter to help them find a solution that would render the restrictions statewide. like those of Pennsylvania constitutionally acceptable without the disruptive counterrevolution that reverse Roe deer would represent. This development surprised the anti-Roe deer majority, then the country, like Washington To postby Robert Barnes recalled later:

The decision was a shock. Kathryn Kolbert, who has advocated for the Pennsylvania restrictive law challengers, said recently it took her several hours to realize she should view the decision as a victory. She upheld three of the four disputed provisions, including a 24-hour waiting period and the requirement that minors have the consent of a parent or judge, and only overturned the one requiring a woman to notify her. husband before having an abortion.

“Shock” was a euphemism for what excited anti-abortion activists went through once the decision was made, such as Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern observed just before Dobbs oral argument this week:

Casey caused a feeling of betrayal, even outright trauma, within the conservative legal movement. This prompted GOP lawyers to develop a more sophisticated verification process for judicial candidates under the slogan “more Souters. “Potential Supreme Court justices are now carefully examined for their bona fide anti-abortion with thinly veiled questions about “unenumerated rights” and “substantial due process”.

This sense of no longer being wrong culminated in the implicit agreement reached between the anti-abortion movement (including its conservative evangelical and traditionalist-Catholic religious sponsors) and a certain Donald J. Trump in 2016. As he sought to consolidating his control of the Republican Party following his hostile takeover of the GOP in the presidential primaries, he violated all the rules of decorum by downright promising to appoint only the judges of the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe deer. Equally important, he published (and regularly revised) a list of potential judges which he would choose from, giving anti-abortion activists plenty of time to consider them. And above all, once elected, he entrusted his judicial control operation to the conservative legal warriors of federalist society (and, to some extent, the Heritage Foundation).

This transactional arrangement gave anti-abortion activists the confidence to unqualified support for Trump’s court appointees and, just as important, to tolerate the evasions and deceptions they have committed on issues involving reproductive rights. to get through tough confirmation hearings. And as the Court began to take a more conservative direction on this and related issues (such as religious freedom exemptions), the Trump-Conservative-Christian alliance grew stronger and more pervasive, to the point that today, defending Trump’s big lie (and its thousands of little lies) has become a religious precept for many activists who value the promises he has kept to them.

A reversal of Roe deer would mean terrible things to those subject to new punitive anti-abortion laws across the country. It would also be another building block of Trump’s plan for a return to power in 2024, helping to strengthen his grip on a party that is, in turn, firmly in the grip of the anti-abortion movement. And Trump can rightly be relieved by signs that his court appointees will not back down on abortion. Any further betrayal of lawyers appointed by Republican presidents could give the anti-abortion movement grounds for divorce.


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