There is no video when the Supreme Court sits to hear cases before it. An inherently conservative institution, the presence of cameras is too jarring for most of the justices, who serve life terms
However, the audio quality is really excellent – and everyone following the abortion case in the US Supreme Court last week was rapt.
Was Mississippi’s law that banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy constitutional?
Could it be squared with two crucial precedents: the ruling, now almost 50 years old, in Roe v Wade, that established a constitutional right to abortion, and a 1992 ruling,
In Planned Parenthood v Casey that affirmed Roe and admonished that undue burdens in state laws could not impede access to abortion services.
What almost everyone listening in to the Court’s questioning of the lawyers heard was that the conflict between the Mississippi law and Roe was a direct one; that at least five justices felt that Roe should yield to Mississippi; that there was little appetite for a proposition from Chief Justice Roberts that the Court could uphold Roe and still permit the 15 week abortion ban to stand, as it just meant a shift of Roe’s window for abortion services from 24 weeks to 15; and that for perhaps the five most conservative justices – Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett – there was an all-but-explicit sentiment that Roe had been wrongly decided, and that the precedent should fall.
In other words, it appears from how the justices reacted last week was that there is a clear majority to at the least affirm the Mississippi law and likely to completely overturn Roe – that after 50 years of being on the books, a constitutional right to abortion will be severely limited if not eliminated.
If that happens, what happens next?
If the Court does overturn Roe, it would likely rule that abortion is not a constitutional right and that it is up to the political process to authorize it – or not. This would make the 50 state legislatures – and Congress – the ultimate arbiters of the availability and scope of abortion services.
That would mean that it would be up to Congress to pass a law for abortion services to be available uniformly across the country.
Eliminating a constitutional right that has been in effect for 50 years will be devastating to tens of millions of women across the country. This will provoke a most explosive reaction.
Aside from civil rights and racial justice, abortion is the most significant social issue in the country
The ruling in Roe was sought for decades by abortion supporters, and the repeal of Roe by the Court has been sought by abortion opponents for decades.
Every Federal spending bill has language in it over how Federal dollars can or cannot be spent on abortion services.
Every judicial appointment to the Federal courts is scrutinised and vetted for their position on abortion.
Especially over the last 30 years, this issue has dominated the confirmation process for those nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. Trump was resolute in championing his appointment of anti-abortion justices to the Court.
Trump got three of them approved by the Republican-controlled Senate – upending the Supreme Court’s political balance just so the Court would get to this day.
Since the Court will have shifted the abortion debate from the judicial branch to legislatures across the country, there will be an immense political reaction from coast to coast, and that reaction will be nationalized and carry over into the midterm elections for Congress next November.
Why? Because a state-by-state approach can be transcended if Congress passes a national law to protect abortion rights
While the Supreme Court might strike down Roe by finding there is nothing in the Constitution that provides a right to abortion services, it is not unconstitutional for Congress to pass a law protecting the provision of abortion services to all women in the United States.
Indeed, in anticipation of what the Supreme Court is deciding now, the House of Representatives in September passed, by a party-line vote of 218-211, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021, which provides:
“Congress finds… Abortion services are essential to health care and access to those services is central to people’s ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States. Abortion access allows people who are pregnant to make their own decisions about their pregnancies, their families, and their lives,
“A health care provider has a statutory right under this Act to provide abortion services, and may provide abortion services, and that provider’s patient has a corresponding right to receive such services …”
The Senate could pass it too – if there are enough Democrats to vote to change the Senate rules to end the filibuster and allow a simple majority vote on this legislation.
As abortion rights are supported by 60 per cent of voters, suddenly Democrats have a huge accelerator of support in the midterms next November. The message: elect Democrats to Congress if you want to protect abortion rights.
If the Supreme Court overrules Roe, it will be war over abortion at the ballot box.
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Trump’s campaign tactic – debase and disgrace the legal process
Donald Trump, former president of the United States, hated Arraignment Day I in Manhattan two months ago, the first time a former president had been criminally charged.
Trump was being forced against his will into a proceeding he had utter contempt for. He was being arrested and fingerprinted and photographed under an indictment under the jurisdiction of Manhattan in New York City for allegations of hush money payments and fraudulent bookkeeping practices to conceal criminal activity. Trump heard the charges read out against him and he entered a plea of not guilty.
Trump had a terrible day. Trump wore a scowl throughout. His countenance was fearsome. What Trump hated most about his arraignment in New York is that he had to sit at a table with his counsel side by side with him — equal to him — and with the judge above him looking down on him. Trump could not control the discussion and could not interrupt to make his points.
Trump was subordinate to the judge. He was subordinate to no one as president.
Arraignment Day II
Arraignment Day II in Miami will be worse from Trump, even more stressful. The charges are substantially more serious: the alleged violation of federal criminal statutes involving the alleged mishandling and illegal possession of classified documents, lying to legal authorities, and obstruction of justice. Potential penalties run to years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.
Trump throughout his business life had always crafted his affairs to avoid being a defendant. But in his term in office, he was caught up in it big time. He was a defendant in two impeachment trials – again, unprecedented events – and left office in disgrace.
But Trump does not feel disgraced. He never does. Trump does not have a reverse gear. He never retreats. Never admits. Never concedes. Never yields. Trump is never embarrassed. Trump never feels ashamed. When something goes wrong, it is always the fault of someone else.
Bill Barr SLAMS his former boss:— Republicans against Trump (@RpsAgainstTrump) June 11, 2023
“He’s not a victim here. He was totally wrong that he had the right to have those documents. Those documents are among the most sensitive secrets that the country has…He had no right to maintain them and retain them”pic.twitter.com/VViNFpwbzt
And Trump never repents.
Trump can feel this way because Trump is waging war on behalf of his armies in “the final battle” for the future of the county. In his first, fiery post-indictment speech in Georgia, Trump said, “They’ve launched one witch hunt after another to try and stop our movement, to thwart the will of the American people. In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you … “Either we have a Deep State, or we have a Democracy…Either the Deep State destroys America, or WE destroy the Deep State.”
It is a powerful formulation, and his true believers love it.
Hours later, In North Carolina, Trump mainlined his distilled message for the Republican crowd:
“We are a failing nation. We are a nation in decline. And now these radical left lunatics want to interfere with our elections by using law enforcement.
It’s totally corrupt and we cannot let it happen.
.@RepDanGoldman: "Donald Trump believed the law does not apply to him, and that he would do anything he could to conceal and maintain possession of highly, highly classified national security information that would jeopardize our national security." https://t.co/IfX8bV4EVk pic.twitter.com/Gvjv8aNFkn— The Hill (@thehill) June 11, 2023
This is the final battle.
With you at my side we will demolish the Deep State.
We will expel the warmongers from our government.
We will drive out the globalists.
We will cast out the communists.
We will throw off the sick political class that hates our country.
We will roll out the fake news media.
We will defeat Joe Bide and we will liberate America from those villains once and for all.”
Any lesser mortal would be staggered by these events. Any other presidential candidate would be driven from the race. But not Trump.
Debase and disgrace
Trump is using the same playbook today as he successfully triggered after being charged in New York: debase and disgrace the legal process by terming it completely political. Trump said the federal indictment is “election interference at the highest level.”
Almost every other Republican running for president has adopted this line, insulating Trump from pressure to leave the field.
Trump’s chief opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said after these indictments: “The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation.”
Republican congressperson Nancy Mace: “This is a banana republic. I can’t believe this is happening.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: “Democrats are arresting their political enemies. and they work together in their corrupt ways to get it done.”
Trump is using his affliction to raise millions of dollars from his base.
Trump will likely face Arraignment Day III in Georgia in August. A state prosecutor is expected to charge Trump with criminal interference in the certification of Georgia’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
As of now, there is no sign of cracks in Trump’s support among Republican voters. There is no surge to another candidate. What remains to be seen is whether Republican voters, as they see Trump spend his days in courtrooms and his evenings at rallies around the country, reach a conclusion that this is a spectacle too far, too much to bear, and that they want to turn to another conservative populist who stands for them in the political trials— and not the criminal trials – of 2024.
Donald Trump’s legal woes will serve him well
It’s not often that a U.S. President faces federal indictment, but if it’s going to happen to anyone, it might as well be Donald Trump first.
The news that Donald Trump is facing a federal investigation over the removal of secret documents from the White House in 2021 came as no surprise.
Keen watches of the Washington soap opera have seen this playbook before, albeit in a different form.
There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a Washington outsider. But as seriously damaged as he may be (thanks to the events of January 6), his support base has only grown whenever he faces scrutiny.
For his supporters, his legal woes mirror their own relationship with the government – a giant, unfair beast that picks and chooses its fights.
Trump is accused of storing sensitive documents—including those concerning matters of national security—in boxes, some even in a shower.
The documents were seized last August when investigators from the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.
The Department of Justice has historically avoided charging people who are running for public office. Whether they should do that is a debate for another day. But it’s happening now. And it’s making it all too easy for Trump to claim there is a concerted campaign to get him away from the White House.
Trump exposed the deep state. IF they exist, they probably don’t want him back in power. Whether they exist doesn’t matter really, because plenty of Trump’s supporters agree with him, and believe the secret state is working against them. Call it QAnon, call it a conspiracy – it doesn’t matter in a democracy.
The DoJ now has to go all in. Failing to secure a conviction would be a serious embarrassment for the department.
This is the second time Trump has been indicted in recent months, yet the opinion polls show he only increases his popularity among MAGA and Republican voters. It leaves the Republican party in a difficult position. Support their leading candidate or support the law?
As other Republicans rallied around the embattled candidate, Trump held on to his loyal base of supporters.
For the Democrats, and for Biden, another reality will soon sink in – if Trump becomes President, and they lose office next year, how will a Trump-run DoJ deal with them?
Broadly, the tit-for-tat one-up-manship of U.S. politics is breaking tradition and potentially breaking the country.
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