Praise Be, Y’all!

Forward into the past with the United States Supreme Court

Praise Be, Y’all!

The column that you would normally see in August is usually written by me on July 1. But this Canada Day, I’m on a cruise ship in Alaska, so my attention is focused on the United States and its Supreme Court, which in comparison with virtually every other Supreme Court in the Free World, including Canada’s, seems to be stuck somewhere between 1859 and 1965.

Shortly after yet another horrendous mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, the Court expanded gun rights in the US, by striking down a New York State law that would have regulated a citizen’s right to carry a concealed handgun in public. Now everyone can walk around town with a concealed rod, just like they did on Gunsmoke! Two weeks after that ruling, the same Court overturned Roe v Wade; a 50-year-old landmark decision that struck down state laws that prevented a woman having control over her own reproductive health. This means that American women have fewer rights in 2022 than their mothers and grandmothers did! It’s no longer a constitutionally protected right to have an abortion in the US, and some states have now banned abortions outright, even in cases of rape and incest, forcing a woman to travel out-of-state for the procedure, carry the child to term, or force women to obtain unsafe “back-alley” abortions.

Some say that the US Supreme Court is more interested in protecting the rights of fetuses and gun owners than the rights of women and school children. Others say the United States is bold enough to force women to have children, but too cowardly to ensure those children make it to recess alive. The ever-prescient Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaids Tale, weighed in on the Court’s decision. “In the fictional theocracy of Gilead, women had very few rights, as in 17th century New England. The Bible was cherry picked, with the cherries being interpreted literally.” Although she eventually completed The Handmaid’s Tale, she said she stopped writing several times because she considered it too far-fetched. “Silly me,” she said.

What can the US federal government do in the aftermath of this decision? Freely distribute abortion pills in those states with restrictive abortion laws? Fund out-of-state travel to a state where a woman can have an abortion, like the underground railway of the 19th Century? Offer abortions on federal property in anti-abortion states, such as on Army, Navy, or Air Force bases? Regulate male reproductive organs?

At least two of the Trump-era appointees to the Court testified during their confirmation hearings that Roe v Wade was settled law, causing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to seek their impeachment for lying to Congress.

But in an unsettling feat of jurisprudential gymnastics, the majority ruled that it’s the States themselves, not the federal government, that has the jurisdiction to craft their own abortion laws. So, does this mean individual states can craft other laws that deprive citizens of their freedoms, like laws dealing with, say, slavery? What other rights are on the chopping block? Legal scholars are focusing on obiter by Justice Clarence Thomas, who said that the Court should also reconsider cases involving gay-rights and same-sex marriage, although ironically, he didn’t say anything about interracial marriage, which only became “legal” in 1967. And stay tuned to whether Thomas recuses himself from any cases involving President Trump and the January 6 insurrection in light of his wife’s blatant encouragement of a coup d’état that would have kept Mr. Trump in power.

And in the “be careful what you wish for” department, another recent decision of the Court ruled that public school employees cannot be fired for praying while supervising students, leading some pundits to raise the law of unintended consequences, because the door has been opened wide to the followers of Satan, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (also called Pastafarians), Church of the Sub Genius, Dudists, and the Almighty Bob, who can now seemingly lead children in prayer before class or during football games.

Praise be, y’all. Time to move Margret Atwood’s books from the fiction section to “current events.”

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