Thursday, September 02, 2021


Now that the Supreme Court has voted to deny an emergency appeal blocking the sadistic and extreme Texas abortion law -- with Chief Justice John Roberts agreeing with the Court's three liberals that the law should not have been allowed to take effect -- I keep thinking about what happened in May:
... the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider a major rollback of abortion rights.

The court said Monday it would review next term whether all state laws that ban pre-viability abortions are unconstitutional....

The test case is from Mississippi, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks, significantly before fetal viability....

The Mississippi appeal has been sitting on the court's docket awaiting disposition since last fall....

There is no indication of why the court stayed its hand for so long, but the case was listed on the weekly conference for discussion by the justices 17 times before Monday's announcement.
A decision in the case is expected by next summer -- a few months before the midterms.

Why the multiple postponements? I'd say it's because a ruling unfavorable to abortion rights was inevitable, and Roberts in particular probably feared that a significant assault on Roe in this term would motivate Democrats to expand the Court. Postpone the ruling until just before the midterms and Democrats would presumably not have time to pass a Court expansion bill. Also, Roberts probably believed that the ruling in the Mississippi case could be tailored in such a way that it significantly undermined Roe without, strictly speaking, overturning Roe. If the ruling was crafted shrewdly, there wouldn't be enough anger about it to motivate stronger Democratic turnout, while Republican voters would get the abortion curtailment they crave.

But if this was the strategy, the Court's handling of the Texas law apparently blew it up. Roberts couldn't persuade another conservative to join him in staying the Texas law; he seems to have lost the ability to do the right's bidding mostly by stealth.

Or maybe all the Court's rightists now see that the Democrats don't have the nerve to expand the Court and never will, so they're free to do as they please. And maybe, from their perspective, it's better to blow up Roe now rather than next summer -- it'll motivate Democratic voters in gubernatorial contests in Virginia, New Jersey, and California, but that's about it for now. By 2021, I guess the Mississippi ruling won't break much new ground. Maybe Roberts will persuade at least one right-wing justice to pretend that they're not overturning Roe -- or maybe the others have stopped caring what liberals and moderates think, just like most Republicans.

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