SCOTUS Dobbs reactions
We have curated an initial roundup of reactions and writing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe and Casey, effectively leaving it to individual states to determine how they will regulate access to abortion. We’ll include other relevant reactions in the coming days.
First, before we get to it, here is my (Michael’s) statement offered at the request of POLITICO:
Over the coming decade, the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs will give both parties an opportunity to move toward the center on abortion. If they take it, this decision could ease the hyper-partisanship of American politics.
The Dobbs decision offers an opportunity for Democrats to establish a position on abortion that respects the more nuanced views on abortion of their growing non-white base and the majority of Americans and frees millions who are morally conflicted about abortion. This shift would entail a rejection of the zero-sum demands of progressive activists whose support for unlimited access to abortion helped lead to this moment and the pursuit of federal legislation that would provide a baseline of access to abortion nationally. Instead, up to this point, Democrats have responded with an ill-fated push for the Women’s Health Protection Act. As Democratic strategist Lis Smith wrote, the WHPA is “so broad in its provisions — superseding all state-level restrictions on abortion and all exemptions for religious institutions — that it couldn’t begin to win a majority vote.” Democrats can change course, as Senator Tim Kaine seems to understand.
This approach would seem to be consistent with the political and moral intuitions of President Joe Biden through the vast majority of his career; the president once hailed his own “middle-of-the-road” approach to abortion.
If Republicans recognize this moment for what it is, they’ll understand that it’s their job now to ensure the majority of the American people come to believe that the post-Dobbs abortion rights landscape is tolerable and sustainable, which was not achieved by those who support Roe. To advance this aim, Republicans and anti-abortion groups would understand that draconian laws in the most conservative states would undermine the project of building a post-Roe America and take a much more active role in policing their own side. As Republican-controlled states move to pass legislation restricting abortion post-Dobbs, they would do so without criminalizing women, and in tandem with robust supports for women and families. Republicans would make poverty alleviation for families a top priority, and advance policies that aggressively combat pregnancy discrimination. If pro-life groups lose the fight to convince the American people that the new status quo is acceptable, they may lose everything they gained with Dobbs.
Unfortunately, polarization is such that our parties will likely miss the moment, and respond with more of the same. Democratic states with already liberal abortion laws will pursue even greater expansions of abortion rights, while Democrats in Congress pursue legislation they know will not pass and hope they can use the issue to their advantage in the midterms and beyond. Republicans will seek to downplay the import of the decision and fail to make significant adjustments to their priorities that would help make a post-Roe America more sustainable, while conservative states pass laws that make the new status quo intolerable for many Democrats, Independents and even some Republicans. In 10 years, the Supreme Court may have to step in once again, imposing yet another new abortion regime in lieu of leadership from elected officials.
One final note: Due in large part to the issue of abortion, Christianity has become identified as a partisan force in the imagination of many Christian and non-Christian Americans alike. With Dobbs, pro-life Christians should reassess their policy preferences and priorities. Single-issue voting on abortion may no longer be justified, if it ever was.
Elected Officials and Politicians
Senator Mitch McConnell’s statement can be found here. “The Court has corrected a terrible legal and moral error, like when Brown v. Board overruled Plessy v. Ferguson. The Justices applied the Constitution. They carefully weighed the complex factors regarding precedent. The Court overturned mistaken rulings that even liberals have long admitted were incoherent, restoring the separation of powers. I commend the Court for its impartiality in the face of attempted intimidation.”Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.
Religious Outlets and Voices
Chelsea Patterson Sobolik for TGC. “The Dobbs decision marks the dawning of a new pro-life movement, and we ought to rightly celebrate it for what it is: the opportunity for thousands of preborn babies to have the most fundamental human right—the right to live. We should pause and praise God for his sovereignty and mercy in this decision. Then, we should redouble our efforts to care for preborn babies, their families, and vulnerable children, all while offering the love and hope of the gospel. May we be on the frontlines of proclaiming that all people are created in the image of God and are inherently worthy of care. And may we display with our lives that all people are precious in God’s sight.”Today the Supreme Court released its decision in the case of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The court has overturned the constitutional right to abortion that was recognized in the seminal 1973 case Roe v. Wade.USCCB Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson | Full Statement by Abp. José H. Gomez, President & Abp. William E. Lori, Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities:
Jake Meador for Mere Orthodoxy. “Where do we go from here? The ending of Roe is a legal victory. If it is to become more than that, we will have to do the work to make that a reality. Overthrowing Roe is not the totality of what our response to abortion ought to be, nor does it mean that the culture of death has been defeated (or the culture of life established), nor does it mean that our work to promote a culture of life is done. It simply means that one highly significant step in the quest to create a culture of life has been taken. But more must follow.”Forced childbearing for births this country will not pay for. To attend schools we will not fund. To struggle beneath crushing rents and starvation wages. To suffer ecological crises we will not stop. Or die by guns we will not regulate. Don’t you dare say “prolife.”
Media and Journalists
NYT’s Editorial Board: America is Not Ready for the End of Roe v. Wade “In short, constitutional rights are meaningless unless they apply across the entire country. That is why the Supreme Court decided Loving v. Virginia and Roe v. Wade as it did. These rights are inherent in the Constitution, even if they are not explicit in it.”
An essay in The Atlantic argues the reasoning in Dobbs will cascade to other issues, like Obergefell - If the Supreme Court Can Reverse Roe, It Can Reverse Anything
Finally, we’ll close with Ross Douthat’s column from this morning:
By any reasonable political science theory, any normal supposition about how power works in our republic, this day should not have come.
The pro-life movement has spent half a century trying to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that was presumed to reflect the enlightened consensus of the modern age. It has worked against the public’s status quo bias, which made Roe v. Wade itself popular, even if the country remained conflicted about the underlying issue. Against the near-universal consensus of the media, academic and expert class. Against the desires of politicians who were nominally supportive of its cause, the preferences of substantial portions of American conservatism’s donor class.
Across all those years the pro-life cause also swam against the sociological and religious currents of American life, which have favored social liberalism and secularization. It found little vocal support among Hollywood’s culture-shapers and crusaders for social justice, or the corporate entities that have lately embraced so many progressive causes. It was hampered by the hiddenness of the injustice it opposed, the voicelessness of the constituency on whose behalf it tried to speak.