Abortion, The Supreme Court, and the Death of Democracy

Blog#108- 5/11/22

By Richard Davis

American women will soon find it more difficult to make decisions about pregnancy thanks to the persistent bullying of a minority of Americans. When the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion will be an issue that will be controlled by individual states.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, “If Roe were overturned or fundamentally weakened, 22 states have laws or constitutional amendments already in place that would make them certain to attempt to ban abortion as quickly as possible. Anti-abortion policymakers in several of these states have also indicated that they will introduce legislation modeled after the Texas six-week abortion ban.”

As the fear of the Roe overturn moves closer to reality it is becoming clear that this is an issue that affects lower income women the most. They will have to be able to afford to go to states where abortion is legal and the cost could be prohibitive for many. Some states that are moving to outlaw abortion are also talking about making it illegal for a woman to have an abortion in a state in which she is not a resident.

This is all old but sad news. The big question is how the legal status of abortion has been threatened by about 20% of Americans who oppose abortion. The notion that we live in a democracy where the majority opinion rules the day has been corrupted for many decades but the abortion issue is making it clearer that our current democratic process can be corrupted by a minority that consistently lies, bullies and abuses power in order to get its way.

The best place to look to understand this sad state of affairs is the Supreme Court. The justices continue to publicly put up a façade of being non-partisan, but that is one of many lies being forced upon the American people. The way justices are put in place and the length of their terms needs to be changed. The current system is not working.

The President, the most politically partisan person in the country, appoints a justice to be confirmed by the Senate. The final outcome of that appointment is almost totally influenced by whatever party is in the majority. We only need to look at the unethical tactics that Mitch McConnell used in blocking the confirmation of Merrick Garland and then rushing through Amy Coney Barrett’s placement on the court.

We will never be able to completely divorce the appointment process of a justice from politics but we should make the effort to do a better job. Washington politicians are not good at fixing broken processes, especially when those in power benefit from dysfunction. They simply feed the dysfunction as long it suits their agenda.

So how do we change the current mess of the Supreme Court? I propose that justices be elected by the entire country during an election cycle. Potential justices would throw their hats in the ring, but they would not be allowed to campaign as other elected officials do. There would be a strictly defined process where potential justices would have to submit a resume and answer a set of questions that would be available to all Americans before the vote. It would still be a political process, but one with less potential for unethical partisan manipulation.

It would be a radical change. The times we are living in are ripe for radical change. What do we have to lose? We are already on the verge or ruining the lives of millions of women when abortion access is no longer nationally protected.

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