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Pulitzer Winner Linda Greenhouse Delivers A “Requiem for the Supreme Court”

Ursula Faw - 5-6 minutes 6/25/2022

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Linda Greenhouse, in today’s N.Y. Times, filets Samuel Alito’s Opinion in yesterday’s Supreme Court decision that effectively ended, for many women, autonomy over their own bodies, and does so with a devastating critique of his arrogance and lack of respect for his Republican predecessors on the high court.

“Consider the implication of Justice Alito’s declaration that Roe v. Wade was “egregiously wrong” from the start. Five of the seven justices in the Roe majority — all except William O. Douglas and Thurgood Marshall — were appointed by Republican presidents. The votes necessary to preserve the right to abortion 19 years later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Roe follow-up decision that the court also overturned on Friday, came from five Republican-appointed justices.

In asserting that these justices led the court into grave error from which it must now be rescued, Justice Alito and his majority are necessarily saying that these predecessors, joining the court over a period of four decades, didn’t know enough, or care enough, to use the right methodology and reach the right decision. The arrogance and unapologetic nature of the opinion are breathtaking. (Of the justices who decided Casey in 1992, the only member of the court still serving is Justice Clarence Thomas, a dissenter then, who wrote in a concurring opinion on Friday that now that the court has overturned the right to abortion, it should also reconsider its precedents on contraception, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and same-sex marriage.)”

And Ms. Greenhouse knows whereof she speaks on this issue, she first wrote about abortion in 1970…when Boof Kavanaugh, who also scribbled his name on the decision, would have been five year old…in a piece called Constitutional Question: Is There a Right to Abortion?

This passage from that article demonstrates how far we have come, and retreated, since it was written.

“A Right to abortion. Such a notion, at first hearing, sounds fantastic, illusory. The Constitution is searched in vain for any mention of it. The very phrase rings of the rhetoric of a Women’s Liberation meeting.

But last September, the Supreme Court of the State of California threw out a state statute essentially identical to New York’s abortion law on the ground that allowing abortion only when it is “necessary to preserve the life” of the mother is unconstitutionally vague and violates the fundamental notion of due process of law. Such a statute, Justice Raymond A. Peters wrote in his opinion, is not “sufficiently certain to satisfy due process requirements without improperly infringing on fundamental constitutional rights.”* His opinion contained another thought: “The rights involved in the instant case are the woman’s rights to life and to choose whether to bear children. . . . The fundamental right of the woman to choose whether to bear children follows from the Supreme Court’s and this court’s repeated acknowledgment of a ‘right to privacy’ or ‘liberty’ in matters related to marriage, family, and sex.”

A right to privacy in matters related to marriage, family, and sex!

The scurrilous six on the current court would cringe as from a bulb of garlic at that thought.

But back to today’s piece.

Ms. Greenhouse scoffs at Kavanugh’s hope, expressed in his concurrence, that the court had seen the hind end of the abortion issue and could now continue its dismantling of Democracy in peace.

“Except, of course, that the story isn’t over. Although Justice Brett Kavanaugh proclaimed with evident relief in his concurring opinion that the court was now bowing out of the picture and “will no longer decide how to evaluate the interests of the pregnant woman and the interests in protecting fetal life throughout pregnancy,” that is not likely to be the case. Those pesky women will keep coming up with problems: What about pregnancy-related medical issues short of imminent death? Rape? Incest? Fetuses doomed to die in the womb or shortly after birth? Will young teens be forced to bear children? Will women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of a serious fetal anomaly be forced to bring a child into the world whom they can’t care for adequately and in whom the state has little postnatal interest? What happens when states start prosecuting not only doctors but women?“

And then she delivers her coup de grâce:

“No, justices, your work isn’t done. What you have finished off is the legitimacy of the court on which you are privileged to spend the rest of your lives.”

If you can go read the entire piece. It is beyond my scope to do it the justice it deserves.