Apocalypse Now: Abortion, Guns, and the Supreme Court


The decisions out of the Supreme Court this week on abortion and guns aren’t surprising, but they are still a shock, drastically changing the world we live in. The first returns women to the back alley; the second sends us back to the Wild West. 

Both prove that Republicans on the Court lied when they swore allegiance to stare decisis. They show Mitch McConnell to be devilishly deceitful, blocking a Supreme Court nomination 10 months before an election in 2016 while he awaited a Republican president, and then ramming Amy Coney Barrett through six weeks before the 2020 election while he still had Donald Trump in the White House.

The outcome in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization proves that Susan Collins is gullible to the point of being a fool, or is a liar, misleading the voters of Maine whom she assured in 2018 that she “would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade.” Hours after she learned that Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch were hostile enough to overturn Roe, Collins hemmed and hawed about how “inconsistent” they were in “their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon.” 

It’s worse when a woman spews nonsense about women’s rights, but dishonorable mention goes to Senator Joe Manchin as well. “I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent, and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans.”

So much alarm, so late in the game, and so disingenuous. The only way to be nominated to the Court was to be on the Federalist Society’s list of approved nominees, and the only way to be approved was to promise to attack the right to abortion. Writing for the majority in an opinion that is only slightly more cogent than the one that leaked, Justice Samuel Alito couldn’t find the word abortion in the Constitution, nor privacy. But neither is woman, she, or AR-15, to name a few things left out by the Founding Fathers. 

The Dobbs opinion marks the first time a constitutional right affirmed by a prior court was taken back by a succeeding court. Justice Clarence Thomas set off more alarms when he opened the door to review other cases based on due process and rights not enumerated in the Constitution. Watch out: What happens in the bedroom may not stay in the bedroom. And race to the altar—among other rights Thomas questioned was the right to marry whom you wish. 

Dobbs was dramatic enough without Thomas promising more. It makes you wonder if late Justice Antonin Scalia was joking or worried that his progeny might escape the lab when he answered a question about the difference between him and Thomas, the two jurists most likely to look to the 18th century to decide what was constitutional in the 21st. Scalia answered, “I am an originalist. I am a textualist. I am not a nut.” 

We have reason to wonder about the state of mind of the person he name-checked, and not only because Ginni Thomas, the latter’s “best friend,” worked with the White House to overturn the election. Meanwhile, Clarence was the lone vote against turning over White House documents. 

While you say a prayer for the children born of forced motherhood, there was a decision the day before that poses a real and present danger to the living. With the horror of Uvalde still raw and mass shootings barely making the news unless the death toll reaches double digits, the Court decided 6–3, with Thomas writing for the majority, that a 100-year-old law in New York, and similar ones in six other states, was unconstitutional because it required the owner to show cause to be permitted to openly carry in Times Square, in traffic on the FDR, and at Yankee Stadium, where if we can’t beat you on the mound, we’ll shoot you in the stands. Ordinary life instantly became more dangerous in a country with 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly half of the world’s privately owned firearms. It follows that America holds the record for the most shootings and gun-related deaths among industrialized countries. 

In his writing, Thomas ignored the warning by Scalia in District of Columbia v. Heller, the last major gun decision, to show restraint going forward: “The right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. [It is] not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” 

Whatever. All of you who couldn’t make it to the polls, who thought Republicans were just kidding about abortion and guns, or just didn’t like how Hillary wore her hair, well, here we are. As of Friday, a blastocyst has more of a right to life than a fourth grader in Uvalde. It means that former Representative Barney Frank was right when he said that Republican “concern for life begins at conception and ends at birth.”

The only hope is that now that the GOP dog has caught the two cars they’ve been chasing for decades, Democrats will awaken those who object to mandated pregnancies and fear a world where the solution of one party to mass shootings is more guns. 

Coincidentally this week, what the Court has taken away on gun safety, Congress has tried to give. For the first time in 30 years, Congress passed a gun safety measure. It’s not because the horror of Uvalde was worse than that of Sandy Hook, when the GOP got away with thoughts and prayers and arguing for arming teachers, if not 16-year-old students. They’ve internalized the NRA slogan that the solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. So has the Court. 

As for abortion, the chance of this Congress passing a federal law to protect abortion before viability, thereby denying the state the right to coerce a woman to have a baby, is less likely than denying 18-year-olds the right to purchase an AR-15. It’s a given now that the Supreme Court reads election returns and is as politicized as the other two branches. But the Court doesn’t have a White House, the thousands of employees of a cabinet official, the perks of elected officials, or an army. It only has its integrity. Faith in the Court has been diminishing for years, but the last Gallup poll now clocks it at 25 percent, an all-time low. And this week, it squandered even that.


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