Sunday, August 7, 2022

Supreme Court Conservatives flex muscles in sweeping rulings

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The Supreme Court’s comprehensive rulings on weapons and abortion have sent an unmistakable message. Conservative judges hold the power and they are not afraid to use it to make transformative changes in the law, nothing more than to take away a woman’s right to abortion that has existed for almost 50 years .

No more half measures, they declared Friday by Roe v. To overthrow Wade and allow states to ban abortion. And the day before, when they first ruled that Americans had the right to carry handguns in public for self-defense, they said the Constitution was clear.

“A restless and newly composed court,” is how Judge Sonia Sotomayor, one of three liberals in the nine-member court, described her colleagues earlier in June.

The abortion case in particular was a rejection of the more incremental approach favored by Chief Justice John Roberts.

The decisions in the box office on consecutive days were the latest and perhaps clearest manifestation of how the court has evolved over the past six years – a product of historic disaster and Republican political brute force – of an institution that leaned to the right, but ‘ a few notable liberal victories, to one with an aggressive, 6-3 Conservative majority.

They also showcased the enormous influence of two right-wing stalwarts, Judges Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Thomas wrote the court’s opinion on weapons, while Alito wrote for the abortion majority.

Alito’s opinion was unequivocal.

“Roe and Casey must be set aside,” he wrote, referring to the court’s landmark abortion precedents of 1973 and 1992, “and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

Alone among the court’s six conservatives, only Roberts said he would follow a more “measured rate,” and simply uphold a Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks. He said overthrowing Roe was an unnecessary and “serious shock” to the justice system.

Judges Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett helped form the majority to dominate Roe and fulfill a prophecy by then-candidate Trump that his choices in the Supreme Court would be similar.

They were chosen after careful selection by the Trump White House and conservative interest groups designed to avoid the disappointment brought by former GOP nominees such as Judges David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, whose votes helped preserve Roe 30 years ago.

But how did Trump even have three vacancies to fill? After Judge Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky vowed to prevent President Barack Obama from filling the seat during the election year.

Obama nominated Merrick Garland, then a federal appeals court judge and now President Joe Biden’s attorney general, but Republicans did not even want to hear Garland.

When Trump surprisingly won the presidency, he nominated Gorsuch, which was only confirmed after McConnell scrapped what was left of the Senate filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.

Judge Anthony Kennedy retired the following year and Kavanaugh received just-received confirmation after standing trial on allegations, which he denied, that he sexually assaulted a woman when they were teenagers decades ago.

The death of Liberal Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020 led to Republicans’ swift confirmation of Barrett, despite the impending election and McConnell’s opposition during Obama’s term to fill an opening in an election year. She took her place just days before the 2020 election, strengthening the Conservative hold on the court.

Without the votes, the court’s liberal minority of three judges could only watch with dismay, limited to writing differences that were alternately sharp and sad.

In the abortion decision, Breyer, Sotomayor and Judge Elena Kagan issued an unusual joint disagreement and spoke as one.

“With grief – for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have lost a fundamental constitutional protection today – we differ,” they wrote.

The disagreement included a warning that “no one should be confident that this majority has finished its work.” The judges suggested that the logic of the decision also jeopardizes previously recognized rights to same-sex marriage and contraception.

Alito refuted that proposal, writing that “nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on non-abortion precedents.” But in a separate opinion, Thomas appealed to the court to reconsider his key privacy rulings, including his 2015 opinion guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage.

Next term promises more of the same: Affirmative action and voting rights are already on the agenda and an important election issue could be added to the mix.

Public approval of the court is already at a low point, according to opinion polls, and judges have repeatedly spoken out in recent years in defense of its legality.

Roberts was the leading voice urging the public not to view the court as just another political branch of government that was once entangled with Trump over judicial independence.

Years ago, Scalia sometimes ran against the smaller steps Roberts often preferred. But at that point, there was no Conservative majority without the Chief Justice.

Judge William Brennan, a liberal who has served over parts of five decades, earlier told his legal clerks that with five votes, anything is possible in the Supreme Court.

The Conservatives have a vote left.

For Associated Press’s full coverage of the Supreme Court ruling on abortion, go to

More about the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling:

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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