The new anti-abortion law in Texas is not just about abortion; it is about undermining civil rights decisions made by the Supreme Court during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The Supreme Court declined to stop a state law that violates a constitutional right.
This once upon a time Alabama practicing attorney tries to imagine legions of self-righteous pro-lifers shutting down the Texas courts, which have not the personnel nor judges to process legions of private bounty hunter lawsuits.
I try to imagine the self-righteous pro-lifers proving in court that a woman who went to Planned Parenthood, or anywhere, actually had an abortion there. Aren't medical records privileged?
What lawyer would take such a case with only a possible $10,000 bounty reward? Perhaps a lawyer who had hundreds of such cases on a 50 percent contingency fee.
If I were a lawyer defending such cases, I would put the self-righteous plaintiffs on the witness stand and ask them if they are Christians?
After they say, Yes, I ask them if they ever raised on their dime an unwanted baby to prevent an abortion?
After they say, No, I ask them if they ever offered to raise on their dime an unwanted child to prevent an abortion?
After they say, No, I ask them if they are not guilty of not trying to save unwanted babies, thus they killed the unwanted babies?
After they say, No, I ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, based on the plaintiffs' sworn testimony that they are guilty of killing unwanted babies.
If the judge then gleefully dismisses the lawsuits, the plaintiffs can appeal.
If the judge ignores the evidence and does not dismiss the lawsuits, I ask the plaintiffs if they if read the Bible?
After they say, Yes, I ask them if the Bible is the inerrant, literal word of God?
After they say, Yes, I hand them a New King James Bible and ask them to open it to Genesis 2:7 and read it to the court:
"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."
I ask the judge to dismiss, based on the plaintiffs' sworn testimony life begins with the first breath of life.
If the judge gleefully rules against the plaintiffs, then the plaintiffs can appeal.
If the judge ignores the evidence and rules with the plaintiffs, then I file the appeals.
I get on Oprah.
NPR has me on the air.
I am vilified on FOX News.
I am preached and prophesied against in evangelical churches.
I am shot and killed leaving the courthouse.
The shooter claims it was to prevent me killing any more babies.
The State Attorney prosecutes me in the grave.
I put the State Attorney on the witness stand and ask if he/she's a Christian?
Texas lawyers and pro se defendants adopt my legal strategy.
The Texas courts are choked to death and unable to handle other kinds of cases.
FOX News and he Christian right go haywire.
The US Supreme Court gets a chance to rule on Genesis 2:7.
The right wing loves religious exemptions so perhaps there should be one here.
This is from Rabbi Danny Horwitz.
I once had to counsel a woman to get an abortion.
Years ago, I was the rabbi of a congregation in greater Kansas City. I knew this woman had preexisting health issues and struggled to take care of the children she already had. Without sharing any other personal details, it was clear to me another pregnancy was going to push her over the edge.
Judaism teaches that potential life is sacred. Nevertheless, our religion also teaches that potential life is not the same as actual life, that a fetus is not a human being. This is directly derived from Scripture. Therefore, even during labor, the pregnant woman’s life has precedence over the life of the fetus. And if we have reason to believe a pregnancy will be a serious threat to the woman’s well-being, whether that be mentally, physically or otherwise, then she will be counseled to abort the fetus, and to do so in a way that maximally protects her own health.
Many books have been written about this, but these are the rules that guide Jewish law and those of us who seek to fulfill it in the practice of our religion. Each case is unique, but the principles remain the same. We would never celebrate the termination of potential life, but neither would we regard it as automatically forbidden. As my doctoral adviser, Rabbi Byron Sherwin, put it, “Judaism is neither pro-life or pro-choice. It depends on the life and it depends on the choice.”
Thus, when this woman came to me for direction, I told her not that she could have an abortion, but that she must have an abortion, that the God of my understanding would want her to do it.
My action would likely be considered a violation of SB 8, the new Texas law making it illegal to assist someone in pursuing an abortion. Thus, this law is a restriction on the practice of my religion. And it would likewise impose a religious standard upon anyone from any religion who believes abortion is not always the evil our state officials believe it to be.
This law cannot stand forever.
In late-breaking news, two things have occurred. Firstly, GoDaddy will not host the online accusation form the Right To Lifers created. They were given 24 hours to take down the site, although it had already been frozen by a shower of bogus 'tips' sent in by the public.
Better still, Planned Parenthood has won a brief respite. The District Court for Travis County granted a temporary restraining order against Texas Right to Life and its associates, stopping them from suing abortion providers and health care workers until September 17.
It's not a lot, but it's a start.
Thank you Heather.
After the election, I was talking to a retired Judge about how relieved I was and now we can start to get back to normal. He said " as wonderful as that sounds, it's the Supreme Court we have to worry about. I have major fears". He was 100% correct and I was 100% wrong. As I think back to our conversation, he foretold what is happening now . Frankly, to a frightening degree.
Abortion is only the guise being used, this is a flat out take over of our rights. This isn't a dramatic overview, its reality. It won't stop here.
I'm pissed. I'm sad. I'm disgusted.
Pack the courts. End the filibuster.
Be safe, be well.
Extrapolation is always dangerous, but this Court "non-ruling" has opened the door to allow states to usurp Federal authority simply by acquiescing to vigilantism. Why stop at abortion? Could not the same argument be made to allow individual citizens to interpret and enforce any law they saw fit? It literally legitimizes anarchy
Couple this with the other legislation just passed in Texas removing gun restrictions and voter suppression, and you have created a toxic brew that will lead to nothing good.
My mood grows increasingly gloomy with each passing day!
I’ve always felt we lost the debate when liberals allowed the debate to be framed about “abortion” or “pro life.”
We ought to have always defended “women’s equality”and “women’s health.” But we were cornered into abortion as a “choice.” NO - we are defending equality and freedom for more than half the population.
Ah, what a brilliant letter, yet again.
But it is your last sentence that truly terrifies.
If every one of us who follow Letters doesn’t (or isn’t already) kicked into gear by this latest Letter and that last sentence, well, I wonder if we don’t deserve what is swiftly headed our way.
I believe that this is when we must all be (or become) actively more engaged. For me that starts with such things as:
* Telling everyone I possibly can about Heather & Letters and encouraging them to do the same;
* Writing/calling Collins, Manchin and Sinema offices (although it admittedly usually feels pointless);
* Writing local newspapers to support specific actions of the Biden administration, protest anti-democratic activities (the latest travesties from TX and SCOTUS for examples) and to take coherent exception to the letters from obvious trumpies and other sadly deranged/deluded types.
Maybe these personal efforts aren’t much - they certainly aren’t “enough” - but for me they are what I can actually DO on a daily basis. If 1M+ of us Letters followers are doing this it starts adding up. And if all of us turn out for demonstrations, marches, protests, etc etc etc as these opportunities arise as we get closer to the midterms, we will, at the very least, know that we have not acquiesced as democracy was being stolen. We will know that we each added at least one grain of sand to the right side of the scales of current history in the making.
This I believe.
This court has used the "shadow docket" 28 times since Trump was sworn into office, as opposed to it being used 4 times in the 16 years of Bush and Obama. And all 28 found them ruling in favor of Republicans and/or against the Biden Admin - forcing them to keep Trump-era rules, etc.
By using the shadow docket, where they do not need written briefs, evidence, or need to write an opinion, the Six Injustices can take on all the assaults on the constitution and promotion of the right's agenda, without the general public taking much notice, and with no reports on what was done and how or why.
The Six Injustices are directly assaulting the rule of law.
The future of democracy in United States of America may be reflected in Texas' abortion law (a woman's right to choose) which isn't just about abortion and vigilantism (civil rights), it is also about the manipulation of Republican State Legislatures by the Koch Bros., Republican packing of the courts; economic inequality, a lack of social cohesion; the power of political non-profits (Dark Money) and more -- a collection of autocratic forces, which are undermining our democratic society.
In five days, on September 9th, the United States of America will mark its 245th year as a sovereign state. Its democratic form of government is going through one of its most difficult periods. States rights, equality, social cohesion and the distribution of wealth are all flashing strong warning signs.
The country's wealth gap is an outstanding example the country's imbalance. The '...basic measure of the dispersion of incomes indicate that American inequality has been rising steadily for 50 years and is at its highest point of the post-World War II era. Inequality is higher in the U.S. than in any other developed country—closer to the level of Mexico or Costa Rica ...'
'Inequality is widening because the economic growth of recent decades has been unevenly shared, with the vast majority of gains going to those already at the top. Over the past 50 years, household incomes have grown three times faster for the top quintile than for the middle'.
'As a result, only the wealthy are accumulating wealth. With income growth concentrated at the top, middle-income households have not successfully accumulated savings in recent decades, which also means they have not shared in the gains from rapidly rising asset values. Over the past 30 years, top-quintile households gained nearly $500,000 in liquid net worth on average (after excluding the top 1%), while households in the middle quintile saw their debt rise faster than their financial assets.' (American Compass).
The enormous wealth gap for a country, which has credited itself for being the world's foremost democracy, indicates the degree of trouble America faces, and trouble is breaking out all over.
'After Trump’s inauguration, Republican state legislators began passing increasingly restrictive abortion laws, banning abortion after 15 weeks or even earlier. In many cases, the architects of these laws believed such restrictions would stand a better chance in court than in years past, thanks to a federal bench populated with Trump appointees, both at the Supreme Court and at lower levels. Mississippi, Kentucky, and Georgia lawmakers, for example, have all passed “heartbeat” bills that would ban abortions as early as six weeks, before many women even know they’re pregnant.' (Atlantic)
Texas recently passed a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. 'The law in question was ingeniously designed by Texas Republicans to evade interdiction by the courts by making individual citizens, not the government, the enforcement mechanism for the law, giving them bounties to snitch on clinics and even on “abetters” of abortions after six weeks of pregnancy (at a time when many women do not even realize they are pregnant).' (New York Magazine)
'That structure has alarmed both abortion providers, who said they feel like they now have prices on their heads, and legal experts who said citizen enforcement could have broad repercussions if it was used across the United States to address other contentious social issues'.
"It is a little bit like the Wild West," said Harold Krent, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law. He called it a throwback to early U.S. history when it was common to have privately enforced laws at a time when the government was limited and there was little organized law enforcement.' (Reuters)
'The new anti-abortion law in Texas is not just about abortion; it is about undermining civil rights decisions made by the Supreme Court during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The Supreme Court declined to stop a state law that violates a constitutional right.' (The Letter)
'In 1957, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower used the federal government to protect the constitutional rights of the Little Rock Nine from the white vigilantes who wanted to keep them second-class citizens. In 2021, the Supreme Court has handed power back to the vigilantes.' (The Letter)
Democracy in America is a big subject. The goal of this comment was to point out several important problems in the country, which are reflected in Texas' abortion bill. The issues could not be covered here, but called attention to. Whatever the seeming suddenness of America's decline, systematic racism is not the only systemic problem in America.
links concerning texas abortion law:
Links re the power of the Koch Bros.:
Link for Political Non-Profits (Dark Money)
Today hackavists clogged the citizen reporting site with reports that Marvel superheroes were getting abortions along with Gov. Abbot.
This historical context is so badly needed and much appreciated. I doubt many Americans know it. The media rarely boils down momentous developments like this to their crystalline essence as you have.
Even though Texas government officials aren't enforcing the state's new anti-abortion law, they passed it. Without their approval, private citizens aka vigilantes would have no grounds to meddle in this most private aspect of women's lives. So the rationale for not blocking the law strikes me as an exercise in legalistic contortions.
What part of the Constitution grants private citizens the right to financially punish other citizens who haven't harmed them? The majority should have written: "the end justifies the means."
We'll see how the court's illegitimate conservative majority rationalizes overturning a half-century of settled law when it rules in the pending Mississippi case and effectively kills Roe v. Wade. Will the male sexual harasser or male sexual assaulter write the majority opinion?
It is an increasingly sad and scary time in America (and throughout the world). It is a time of "hate thy neighbor," "make up your own facts," and "disregard everything that is part of the American myth or fiction." It is overwhelming and the other night with the Texas legislation, I felt the walls closing in. How much could we take? How much protesting can we do? How much money can we donate and hours volunteering can we do? Today, I read the story of Bryan Ruby, the only out professional baseball player. Much of my volunteering work is committed to LGBTQ equality, as chair of Hope in a Box, an organization focused on making LGBTQ inclusive education the norm vs the exception. And he gave to me the inspiration to find more strength and resolve. These are collective battles. After all, without us fighting, we'll let the haters win. And America will surely lose even more.
As David Frum pointed out in an excellent article in the Atlantic about the Conservative dog that caught the car, these people are now going to find out what happens when 60% of the public starts voting on pro-choice as Issue #1 the way the right voted on pro-life. The turnaround is already happening, as HCR has pointed out in this excellent post. This is going to be like what happened when Prohibition came along. The prohibitionists ultimately regretted winning their fight.
What I find most chilling is that it relies on people policing each other—the basis of repressive, totalitarian regimes. Think Stalinist Russia. That family members, friends and neighbors will make $10,000 to turn someone in is absolutely horrifying. Next step: the Senate must abolish the filibuster and set to work protecting the nation from our new thoroughly politicized Supreme Court until Democrats muster the courage to bring significant reform to a now corrupt institution with way too much power.
I have to admit that this week almost broke me. I am hoping the "almost" qualifier is true because even with some small victories--such as the Washington court of appeals upholding the ban on conversion therapy (this has been bumping around the courts of many states for several years) and upholding protections for trans* children (not as reliable in the courts)--this has been a hella week for women who don't subscribe to the patriarchal bargain that the women who claim to be "pro-life" (they are not: they are part of the death eater cult) embrace. I am sickened and angry and when a Greek girl gets like this, the Medea nature comes out.
I have absolutely no confidence that any of this is going to get better. The only way that might happen is if people actively, visibly, and vocally flout all of the laws restricting access to the polls and restricting women's bodily autonomy. Dems are not great at presenting a unified front. Reports about Joe Manchin already indicate that his pecker is stiffening at the thought of being able to thwart the vital infrastructure legislation that we need to combat the Despicables' intention to reduce us to an autocracy.
And yeah: I know that my language might be objectionable to some but I don't really care. It's important sometimes to be stark in speaking the truth.
Anonymous will disrupt Texas. #operationjane