Jim Crawford: Overturn of Roe will only increase distrust in court

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 5, 2022

If you are shocked, surprised and angry about the reversal of 49 years of the right to abortion being overturned by a Republican/religious U.S. Supreme Court majority, you are among nearly 60 percent of Americans who are outraged.

Some are marching in the streets, expressing their civil right to protest, a foundational right in America. Others are seeking strategies to offset the enslavement of women’s bodies by using the mail to provide “Morning After” remedies or traveling to states where women are respected and their rights protected.

The principal of privacy rights has been long established and the court has violently acted in a way that invites civil disobedience and diminishes already low trust in the court. It should never have come to this.

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Gallup reports that trust in the Supreme Court, measured just before the court ruled on guns, abortion and religion’s space in the public sphere, is at its lowest (25 percent) since Gallup began recording the statistic in 1975. The number will likely be even lower since the court’s recent rulings.

The court has earned the additional loss of public trust by its specious claims that Roe was wrongly decided, that carrying more guns in public is absolutely constitutionally required and that state and religion are linked in ways no Founders could have imagined.

Roe was a 7-2 decision, hardly a close call. Since Roe became law, it faced several challenges but withstood them all. As justices changed, retired and came to join the court, Roe remained the law of the land.

Then Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, packed the court with three religious right justices, leading quickly to the beginning of the court looking more like an 1800s version of male-dominated restrictive freedom. And, worst still, this court is just getting started.

It does not help that two of the justices, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, appear to have lied in their confirmation hearings about stare decisis and Roe’s protected legal position as precedent.

Nor does it help the public trust that the Republicans who successfully circumvented the constitution to pack the court represent 38 percent of the voters, but 50 percent of the Senate, enough to push through these radical candidates.

But it does explain why court rulings that the people do not support have become new law by an activist court determined to undermine both law and custom with their judgments.

The growing distrust of the court poses an existential crisis for the nation as the power of this third branch of government comes only through the people’s trust. The Supreme Court has no army to support its decisions, so without the support of the people, it not only threatens democracy itself, but also creates chaos where its actions undermine reason.

Consider abortion, a personal decision but is now rejected by what is, at the base, a wholly religious decision by a court in a secular society. When the court decides that life begins at conception, that a single cell zygote is fully human, that is entirely a religious claim, and now a religious claim that is the law.

Or consider the court’s ruling this month that puts more guns in the hands of citizens in the streets while the nation is in a crisis of gun murders.

When the country needed common sense control over guns, the court offered the opposite in a ruling taking Roe’s antithetical position. In the gun decision, individual rights triumph; in the Roe decision, individual rights are undermined for future rulings and eviscerated in Roe.

The abortion ruling will not stand, and Congress will pass new laws and take other actions to protect Americans. But to do so, voters must elect Democrats and eject Republicans, a more likely outcome today than before ending Roe.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.