The US Supreme Court (SC) decision to end Rowe v Wade, and with it women’s fundamental right to abortion, reflects America’s deepest divisions and will deepen precisely those divisions.
This is the result of both a solid political movement in the United States, as well as the distinctly undemocratic nature of the political and electoral system. And the verdict will have implications for American law, politics, society and its global profile.
American democracy enables American conservatism
Friday’s verdict is undoubtedly a victory for the Republican Party, social conservatives and the country’s Christian right.
It was the result of dual political efforts.
A low-level political, social, and religious movement against abortion almost singularly prompted large sections of Republican voters to vote for anti-abortion candidates for both the presidency and the US Congress. Top-down political choreography has enabled Republican presidents, especially Donald Trump, and the Republican Senate leadership, especially Mitch McConnell, to nominate anti-Roy judges to the bench in recent years.
The verdict is also a result of the undemocratic nature of America’s political system; It allows minority opinion to shape legislative and judicial outcomes.
The Presidency itself is not based on a majority of the popular vote, but on a majority of seats in the electoral college. Donald Trump lost the popular vote, but won a majority of seats in the electoral college, making him one of the most significant breakdowns in American politics without the support of a majority of American citizens. Trump’s biggest legacy as president then was to nominate three conservative judges to the SC bench.
The Senate, which confirms the nominees, has two seats from each state, many of which are considered a violation of the principle that all citizens are politically equal. This gives smaller states, with fewer citizens, an equal voice in determining who will be on the Supreme Court bench in the Midwest and Deep South, home of anti-abortion sentiment, as larger pro-abortion states, with more citizens. Along, east and west. As Trump nominated three judges between 2016 and 2020, the then Senate Majority Leader, McConnell, was able to properly use this historically inherent design flaw to mobilize a majority for confirmation.
And the verdict is a result of the judicial nomination system which raises serious questions about the independence of the judiciary.
With the idea of separation of powers and checks and balances rooted in the American political psyche, the idea of an independent judiciary is sacrosanct. But the nomination process, which rests on executive nomination and legislative confirmation, allows parties to select candidates for an understanding of law and authority over jurisprudence, but where they stand on issues of culture at the center of their value system. Huh.
Judges then have a lifetime term, which again was a way of ensuring that they remained untouched by any coercion and not vulnerable to temptations. But it also means that secure in their term, judges can act in a way that may or may not be consistent with constitutional values or their commitments to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In fact, many conservative judges promised not to overturn established precedent during their confirmation hearings, but changed track as soon as the balance of power in the court and the opportunity to erode rights arose. This allows them to be inconsistent in their jurisprudence without any accountability. Indeed, on Thursday, the court dealt a blow to the state’s rights when it ruled that New York law requires special permits to be carried in public for guns; On Friday, it made state rights a fundamental principle in overturning the national legal right to abortion.
All this then culminates in a combination of partisan judges appointed through a partisan process, who are given life-long protections of their own accord, without any adverse pressure, in a deeply polarized environment.
These three factors – a flawed electoral system that does not give equal voice to citizens and disproportionately favors conservatives; a broken judicial nomination system that throws off judges whose ideological beliefs rather than constitutional judgment are often the fundamental criteria for nomination; And a solid and focused Republican campaign on the issue, through grassroots activism and political intrigue – explains why abortion is not a legal right in America today, despite the vast majority of Americans who support abortion rights. Faulty American democracy has enabled American liberalism.
American conservatism opens new frontiers
The verdict will now shape American law, politics and place in the world.
America is legally Balkanized today. Nine states have already banned abortion, many not even making exceptions in cases of rape and incest. Another 10 are on track to ban or severely limit abortion. These are largely the states of the Midwest and Deep South. On the other hand, Democrat-run and coastal states are expanding abortion-related protections, while the administration has launched executive action to ensure that women’s right to travel from states where abortion is prohibited is limited. States where it is available. Not reduced, nor is their access to medicine. America’s social and political divisions are now reflected in the law, a return to the era when the South and North fought over slavery over the legal architecture.
The legal system is also preparing for a new avalanche of cases, prompted by Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion that the right to use contraception, to have same sex or to marry same-sex marriages – all lie within the right to privacy. Now you should be ready for this question. This may not be necessary because, even in the majority bench that overturned Roe v Wade, there are differences of opinion on whether to do away with other rights. But Republicans and the Christian Right, buoyed by his legal victory, are sure to make a push for the erosion of other rights, which they see as offensive to their cultural and religious sensibilities. On the other hand, Democrats, women, sexual minorities, human rights groups will do everything possible to preserve these rights.
Politically, the impact of the decision is uncertain. Even as Republicans celebrate it, there is a feeling in party circles that it could potentially increase their chances in the coming midterm elections, especially in swing districts and among swing voters, especially suburban women. will destroy.
Democrats, who have been under political siege due to a president perceived as weak and rising inflation, see this as a rare moment when their values and electoral interests converge, and their campaigns to focus on abortion. start again. The Democratic message is simple — vote for senators and congressional representatives who are for abortion, because that’s the only way to push through federal legislation to offset a judicial decision. That may not be enough to reverse the expected Democratic defeat in the elections due this November, but abortion will be on the ballot. The verdict has opened a new era of political controversy over the issue, and this time, for once, Democrats are on the offensive over the issue of a culture war.
And finally, the abortion decision undermines America’s place in the world, the moral high ground of being a beacon of freedom, and reinforces the belief of allies, partners, friends, and opponents that the country is broken.
This will manifest itself in two ways. Even as Joe Biden frames the current geopolitical moment as a battle between democracy and autocracy, and his administration seeks to prioritize values and human rights, America’s domestic story and rising liberalism globally Will undermine the ability to pursue these values. To be fair, US officials often admit that their own democracy needs work. But the domestic battle to preserve it today is far more difficult than at any time in recent history. Add to this the fact that basic democratic principles such as the peaceful transfer of power after the election are still up for debate in the country and what comes out as America’s preaching on democracy and human rights seems increasingly hollow.
The court’s decision will also make other countries think about whether betting on the US under Biden is a sustainable proposition. The president often says that when he went to his first G7 meeting in the United Kingdom last year, and said America was back after years of Trump, other leaders asked, “For how long?”.
The court’s ruling, a Conservative victory, would help other countries recognize that democratic governance and its value system are fragile. Trump is gone for now, but Trumpism is very much here in America to stay. Liberalism is being institutionalized in law. And in two years there could be a return to a strong authority in both Hill and the White House. Then each country will have to think seriously about how to defend its interests in the face of a America divided and broken at war with itself.