Hiltzik: America is in the grip of a right-wing minority

Republicans and conservatives like the nonsense that “America is a republic, not a democracy”. In essence, the phrase is a justification for creating a strong voice in government over minority political views.

We are now at a stage where the minority is dominating. Worse still, it is an extremist minority that has taken advantage of the imperfections in our government system to impose policies that are contrary to the rest of the country.

There is no better example than the string of extremely sound decisions recently made by the United States Supreme Court, most notably the 6-3 decision that overturns 50-year precedent protecting women’s reproductive health rights. women adopted the 1974 decision in Roe vs. Wade.

A state-by-state analysis of public health experts shows that the Countries with the most restrictive abortion policies also continue to invest the least in women’s and children’s health.

– Judges disagree on the Supreme Court’s abortion decision

But rulings overturning gun-rights restrictions – including a more than century-old New York law invalidated by a court last Thursday, as well as actions in favor of restrictions on voting rights, are symptoms of the same disease.

The command of the GOP forces consolidated minority control over state legislatures.

In Wisconsin, where voter registration is split equally between Democrats and Republicans, the GOP is virtually guaranteed to win two-thirds of the legislative seats thanks to a redistricting map drawn by Republicans and drawn up by Republicans. The state Supreme Court is dominated by Republicans.

The Supreme Court’s turn to the far right has serious implications for the court itself and for American society and politics at large. Take them in order.

History tells us that bad things can happen to an organization that is publicly discredited. The decline of the Supreme Court’s credibility as to its credibility has been around for a long time but has accelerated over the past few years.

Recently, we have noticed that a series of decisions that are contrary to public opinion have shown that the courts are “out of touch with the American people”, as Shira A. Scheindlin, a former federal judge in New York, told me earlier this month after deciding on Roe vs. Wade was leaked but before it was officially passed on.

How far out of step? The 10 states in which opinion polls show a majority oppose abortion rights represent about 11% of the US population, but whose approach has been turned into law by the Supreme Court.

According to political scientists Jake Grumbach and Christopher Warshaw, abortion rights are supported by more than 50% of adults, even though most states are rushing to bring court rulings into force by banning or limiting many abortions.

Public opinion is generally in favor of abortion rights and tighter gun control, both of which have been downplayed by recent court decisions.

In February, the Pew Research Center found that just 54% of respondents held a favorable view of the court, down from 69% in mid-2019. The latest figure, Pew pollsters reported, is “one of the least positive numbers in surveys dating back nearly four decades.”

Another new low was reported by the Gallup Foundation on Thursday, with just 25% of the public expressing “a lot” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the courts. This is five points lower than the previous low, reached in 2014.

Even among Republicans, who generally support conservative court decisions, its standing is low, with 39% expressing confidence in the court, down from 53% in 2010. (The latest figures are 25% among independents and 13% among Democrats.)

Gallup polling was completed on June 20; Polls taken after the abortion decision were also dire. A CBS News/YouGov poll conducted Friday and Saturday found that 59% of all respondents and 67% of women disagreed with the decision. More than 55% of respondents expressed confidence that the courts would move towards limiting same-sex marriage and access to contraception.

The court rulings have raised the profile of proposals aimed at redressing its ideological balance, whether by expanding the court to lessen the weight of the current conservative majority or imposing gender term to ensure that its membership more closely reflects public opinion.

According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted after the abortion decision, both ideas received public support, with 62% of respondents strongly or somewhat in favor of restrictions. The time limit and the extension of the court drew a lot of support with 45% in favor compared with 38% disapproving.

The decline in public standing should be worrisome for the court because it could remove one of the pillars that allows the court to survive in a concerted final effort to restructure. It was Franklin Roosevelt’s “court packing” plan of 1937, implemented after the court overturned several New Deal initiatives and other reforms, such as the federal minimum wage law. New York.

According to historian William E. Leuchtenburg, Roosevelt failed because he “attacked one of the symbols that many believe the nation needs to have a sense of unity as a politician.” That belief, however, is now gone.

Warnings about the consequences of declining public standing are coming from inside and outside the court.

In their disagreement over the abortion decision, Judges Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan found that the decision not only removed “a 50-year-old constitutional right to protect protect the freedom and equal rights of women. … It violates the core rule of law, designed to promote consistency of law… [and] jeopardize other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage. ”

They concluded: “Ultimately, it undermines the legitimacy of the Court.”

Harvard Law professor, Noah Feldman, spoke more candidly about the crisis. He called the cruel abortion decision “an act of institutional suicide for the Supreme Court. The legitimacy of modern courts depends on their ability to protect vulnerable people”.

As for the impact of the abortion ruling on society at large, Republican officials seem to be very dismissive of the health implications of women and children of repealing abortion rights.

The 26 predominantly Republican-controlled states that are ready to restrict abortion following the Supreme Court decision or have done so generally rank in the bottom half of the national infant mortality measures, and worse than the national average for maternal mortality.

As the dissenting judges wrote, “a state-by-state analysis by public health experts shows that the Countries with the most restrictive abortion policies also continue to invest the least in their health.” women and children”.

Mississippi, which brought the case that the court ruled Friday, is a consequential child for official indifference to the health of women and children. The dissident noted that “health outcomes in Mississippi are dire for both women and children.” The state ranks worst nationally for its infant and maternal mortality rates, 33.2 deaths per 100,000 live births, nearly double the national average.

These numbers create mockery of Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves’ assurances that “the next phase of the pro-life movement is focused on helping mothers who may have an unwanted pregnancy.” and unwanted… [and] ensure that those children, once born, will have a productive life. ”

History provides no evidence that Reeves was serious. In the opinion of the dissidents, Mississippi “has strict eligibility requirements for Medicaid and nutritional assistance, leaving many women and families without basic medical care or have enough food. Although 86% of pregnancy-related deaths in the State are due to postpartum complications, Mississippi has refused federal funding to provide one year’s worth of Medicaid coverage to women after giving birth. ”

Recent court decisions show that the conservative majority come to these cases with a pre-existing determination to restore the golden age in American society, in which the privileged minority imposed standards. political standards and can defend their own prerogatives without interference.

They can defend their decision by finding justifications in the text of the Constitution, but that is not a serious analysis. The gun rights ruling promoted “a dark and cynical view of society,” in which “danger lurks in every corner, threatening to stalk us, and the best we can be. To do is to raise your hand,” wrote New York attorney Liza Batkin. “It’s a Wild West worldview under the guise of an original, binding decision in writing.”

Options for restoring abortion rights at the federal legislative level, where everything has to happen to “systematize Roe,” as the principle is labeled, are limited but real. One is to build on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which was passed by the House but blocked in the Senate. This measure would prevent states from imposing undue restrictions on abortion providers to interfere with women’s reproductive health choices.

A reworked bill could set acceptable limits on abortions, such as limiting them to the first trimester of pregnancy, but also protect providers from acting to protect protect the health of the mother and guarantee the right to abortion in cases of rape or incest. The measure could also prohibit states from penalizing women who seek abortions out of state or who help them do so.

The main obstacle to such a law is political. Passing it in the Senate will likely require an end to the turnaround – now might be the time.

It is conceivable that the Supreme Court could nullify the new law, but that would be a more radical step forward than the current majority of courts are willing to do even in abortions and right to use. guns because it meant reinterpreting the commerce clause of the Constitution, which gave Congress exclusive authority to regulate interstate commerce.

“Sure, SCt could throw the machine in the trash,” University of Michigan law professor Julian Davis Mortenson tweeted after the abortion ruling. “But that’s what it will take: radical change – with impacts that go far beyond abortion.”

While this court has receded far to the right, it may be a bridge too far – especially if its overt legitimacy continues to be broken. After all, it was the threat of its decline in public credibility that prompted the 1930s court to reverse itself in its approach to liberal reforms to thwart FDR’s plan to pack up the court. .

There are signs that even moderates on Capitol Hill are worried about the radicalism of the Supreme Court. After the abortion decision was announced, Senator Joe Manchin III (DW. Va.) said he would support a bipartisan effort to “make” legislation to “codify the rights that Roe v. Wade has defended before.”

Can the Supreme Court continue to turn the clock back? In the immediate future, the damage has already been done. In the long run, it is facing a high tide.

“The long arc of American history has leaned heavily toward gender equality over the past few decades,” 154 economists in a summary of the abortion wrote to friends of the court. The trendline has been broken for now, but not forever.

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-06-27/the-abortion-ruling-shows-that-america-is-in-the-grip-of-a-right-wing-minority Hiltzik: America is in the grip of a right-wing minority

Edmund DeMarche

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