All federal rights are up for grabs should this proceed; SCOTUS Decision Will Happen Soon
By: Nicole Lashomb*/Editor-in-Chief—
Since the beginning of time, it’s conveniently been painted as the “woman’s fault.” It was Eve that ate the forbidden fruit. It was Mary Magdalene — who as history has revealed was one of the most trusted confidants of Christ and a teacher in her own right — that was painted as a prostitute to dismiss any type of relevance and influence she had in the early church. She was just a lost “sinner,” after all. It was Lot’s wife who was a “disobedient woman” who was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back to see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as she and her family were fleeing. There wasn’t even a mention as to what her name was. And throughout the Bible, men are continually exalted and represented with grandeur while women are dismissed, abused, and thrown to the wayside other than to serve men or are painted as the “bad seed.” This archaic mentality is the same type of ideology ingrained in a rape culture that casts the blame and subsequent physical consequences and psychological warfare of sexual assault on the survivor while the rapists or abusers hold little to no consequence at all. And still, those without a uterus are the ones that continually assault reproductive rights and have the political power to do so — predominantly coming from cisgender men.
Fast-forward to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) leaked draft opinion.
When the leak of a draft opinion written by the majority Justices in the U.S. Supreme Court was sent to Politico early this month, it was clear that the upcoming opinion in a current case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization would effectively overturn Roe v. Wade by the nation’s highest court. Such an outcome is a politically motivated Conservative talking point and promise for the last 50 years since abortion became a federally protected right after a long and contentious legal battle in 1973. In short, the draft opinion is a Conservative gift horse, a dream that appears will be realized by the highest court — despite the Court’s 50-year legal precedent of the right to choose.
Since the leak, pro-choice advocates have come out in full force across every facet of communication — in protest, on social media, in print and digital media, and more, rightfully so.
The Handmaid’s Tale
As critical as it is to have the right to choose and to preserve the right to autonomy over one’s own body upheld — as it has been countless times over the last 50 years — the seemingly inevitable outcome of SCOTUS’ final opinion would have dire consequences that threaten the entire integrity of the legal system, should the Justices proceed as written. For the first time in U.S. history, the Justices would play personal politics over the law, making themselves politicians rather than those that affirm and uphold the law. That action in and of itself would become a precedent. Essentially, it would pave the way for Justices, current and those yet to come to no longer be required to apply and interpret the law, but rather rewrite it based on personal beliefs, not the wellbeing of those able to bear children. That makes it particularly dire since Justices are not elected by the people but rather are appointed by sitting presidents. In this case, Trump appointed three SCOTUS Justices in just 4 years. One of the openings came more than 6 months before Pres. Obama’s term was over, but the Republican Senate did not allow it to go through claiming that should be something the new president should do. Yet, they did a 360 and voted in a Conservative Justice (Coney Barrett) one month prior to Trump leaving office. Not coincidentally, all three Justices make up more than half of the five Conservative voices on the Court that would be responsible for its defeat of reproductive rights. As I’m typing this, flashes from multiple scenes of the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale come to mind.
However, long before the court’s leak took place, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, appointed by then-President Obama, sounded the alarm on the catastrophic impact that overturning Roe v. Wade would have on the country and on public perception of the court. It was a late December 2021 warning turned into reality.
“Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it is possible,” Sotomayor said according to a report published by NBC News.
Superficially, this case is about abortion rights. However, what is actually at stake is any and every ruling handed down by the Supreme Court throughout the court’s history — especially those that have afforded Americans equal protections under the law. Every ruling relating to social justice or marginalized struggles of any kind could come under siege. Marriage equality, LGBTQIA+ rights, healthcare rights, the right to vote (as already seen taking place in many states), especially for women and the Black community, immigrant rights, interracial marriage rights, public school access for people of color — as determined in Brown v. the Board of Education — and countless others would be sitting ducks, set to be dismantled if this brazen and unethical application of the law by the majority justices is acted on and Roe v. Wade reversed in the coming weeks and months. And let’s not forget that two of the Conservative Justices voting against Roe were accused of sexual assault — the latter, Justice Kavanaugh, whose women are still coming forward about his alleged sexually abusive behavior. Regardless of where you stand on the reproductive rights picket line, if Roe v. Wade is overturned and legal precedent is no longer the accepted method of enforcing and guiding justices to interpret the law, then virtually any law established by SCOTUS can invariably be overturned, even the 2nd Amendment. Whether progressive or conservative, any court opinion can be reversed and will impact any of us.
“I could name any other set of rights, including the Second Amendment by the way,” Sotomayor continued. “There are many political people who believe the court erred in seeing this is a personal right as opposed to a militia right. If people actually believe that it’s all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?”
Justices weaponizing the law
Although a leak from within the court is alarming for some, exponentially more alarming is a conservative court that is weaponizing its personal political views on cases that are supposed to be determined by legal precedent. In this case, Roe v. Wade is one of the most critical legal precedents in the nation’s history. The court is charged to be apolitical, but with the appointment of three Justices by Trump, the court has become anything but that. Rather, it is more akin to running amok like Senators Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Democrat and Liberal politicians are outwardly decrying such an unethical act by the nation’s Highest Court and giving tangible real-life experiences of just how catastrophic this ruling would be. They are focused on how this unprecedented act and political stunt by the highest court could further deteriorate our country, yet Republicans in Congress are fixated on “finding out” what traitor of the court it was who leaked such classified information to the press. Professing to get to the bottom of who is behind it, as if they actually care about following any type of moral code, is nothing but grandstanding. It is obvious that they are nothing other than elated that some Justices are politically in their pocket.
Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas — a far right-wing activist — is personally responsible for wielding her power to overturn the presidential election results and it is alleged that she was also involved in the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, turned-insurrection. This bears repeating — a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice’s wife was trying to overturn a democratically run presidential election knowing that it was legitimate. And Justice Thomas did not even recuse himself for cases dealing with such improprieties. “Clarence Thomas has to recuse from any case involving the committee, the election, or the invasion,” said Stephen Gillers to NPR in March.
Yet, what repercussions will Justice Thomas face? Probably the same ones he faced when accused of sexual assault by attorney and professor Anita Hill — absolutely none.
Those politicians supporting the repeal of Roe v. Wade do not care about whose life it impacts, they chalk it up to a political win for them. They clearly don’t value the lives of women who may need an abortion to medically save their own life, or the lives of the children born as a result of rape, incest, or extreme poverty. If these politicians are “pro-life” as they claim, what is “pro-life” about being ok to end a woman’s life because of a health issue related to a full-term pregnancy, but not ok about aborting a fetus that is not viable without that woman? What is “pro-life” about allowing children to suffer in extreme poverty and starve to death while doing nothing to intervene to help? What are they doing about offering programs and services to help single mothers with basic living expenses, education, and food to support their children once the person responsible for getting them pregnant in the first-place leaves without a trace? What are they doing about human trafficking, where women and children are the victims of these crimes? What about the young girls raped by family members whose lives are in peril and where their own well-being is hanging on by a limb? What are they doing about ensuring that children are safe in their classrooms and are not gunned down by assault weapons modeled by military specs such as the AR-15?
Instead of protecting the lives of kids and adults, they protect the gun lobby. What are they doing about advancing healthcare so that everyone has access to quality health insurance? What are they doing about climate change so that there is still a planet left for future generations? What are they doing to ensure that men are held accountable for sex crimes that can lead to a woman needing an abortion in the first place? There are still hundreds of thousands of unprocessed rape kits in this country sitting on shelves in warehouses. Any abortion starts with a man in one way or another. What are they doing about that to ensure that men are held accountable for unwanted pregnancies and sexual assault? Nothing.
These politicians are anything but pro-life. They are pro-oppression of women, pro-patriarchy, and pro-birth. The definition of pro-life does not simply begin and end with an unviable fetus. It’s absurd. Yet, nothing is being done to castigate the men who cause these pregnancies.
Sexual predators on the court
Although, none of this should be a huge surprise. These are the same politicians that have had no issue with putting several accused sexual predators on the court itself nor supporting a sexual predator as president. Apparently, anything goes when it comes to “acceptable” decisions, choices, and exonerations of men’s actions. And, somehow, those same men feel entitled to legislate the bodies of others, just not their own. Every accused sexual predator sitting on SCOTUS, as I’ve mentioned, was cited as one of the Justices who held a favorable opinion of overturning Roe v. Wade.
Yet, during the confirmation process for the three Trump SCOTUS nominees, each one cited the importance of following precedent when asked specifically about Roe v. Wade and its legal status. When a SCOTUS Justice specifically acts contrary to what they told Congress during their confirmation hearing, there should be some sort of consequence that holds them accountable. You can’t lie to be confirmed and then turn around and do just the opposite. You can’t sit on the Supreme Court and teach that to the children and youth of tomorrow. They are charged with decisions that uphold the law, not exploit political issues that they personally align with. That is not their role and their appointment, based on the power given to them. There should be consequences to their actions. The more radical the court becomes, as evidenced by what was contained in the draft leak, the more I believe that there should not be a lifetime appointment to the institution.
If Pres. Obama, who was denied his duty to appoint nominees to the court by the Republican-led Senate at the time, we would not be where we are. Clearly, that was their intent all along.
Perhaps, our only hope is to finally get Congress to end the power of the Supreme Court over Roe v. Wade by codifying into law the right to choose — they’ve had 50 years to do it. The final ruling on Roe v. Wade is expected to be handed down within the next two months.
*Nicole Lashomb is the Editor-in-Chief of The Rainbow Times. She holds an MBA from Marylhurst University and a BM from NY’s esteemed Crane School of Music. Nicole can be reached at email@example.com.
[This story initially ran in the May 2022 issue of The Rainbow Times].