The Reverend Franklin Graham, chief shill for Donald Trump on the religious right, specializes in the tweeting of passages about virtue and love from the Bible while simultaneously bearing false witness against his neighbor.
He has taken up the right wing’s party line response to the leak of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supremes’ 1973 decision that legalized abortion in America as a right.
The political right’s preachers, lawmakers and media mouths claim it’s all a left-wing plot to intimidate the Alito Court.
“It seems these activists will try to use any tactics to get their way,” Graham tweeted, linking the Alito leak to publication of the justices’ home addresses.
Our own Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R‑Washington, blasted out a statement: “At this very moment, Democrats and the Left are using this breach of trust as an opportunity to spread fear and force their discriminatory pro-abortion agenda on every American.”
We don’t (yet) know the leaker’s identity. Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered an investigation of what he describes as “a betrayal” and an “egregious breach of trust” of the Court’s private deliberations. Previous leaks out of the Court have always come in books written after decisions came down.
But the right has moved quickly with three objectives:
- to define the unknown leaker as coming from the “radical left’;
- to get believers to believe the leak is an attempt to intimidate the Court;
- to distract the public from what is an attempt to strip a right from American women and begin rollback of the Court’s privacy rulings.
“The left continues its assault on the Supreme Court with an unprecedented break of confidentiality, clearly meant to intimidate,” said Senator Josh Hawley, R‑Missouri, best known for his clenched fist encouragement of the January 6th insurrectionists at the United States Capitol.
The favorite academic of Rupert Murdoch’s FNC, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, has sniffed out what he describes as an effort “to pressure the Court and push the legislation in Congress on a federal abortion law before the midterm elections.”
Indeed, the pro-liberty camp – legitimately! — sees the Alito draft as a wake-up call and warning to Americans. Senator Patty Murray, D‑Washington, stood with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to call for Senate enactment of House-passed reproductive rights legislation.
A Senate vote on the legislation, likely to fail, will be held next Wednesday.
Democratic House members in this Washington joined together to vocally proclaim their support for reproductive rights.
Representative Adam Schiff, D‑California, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, delivered this blunt message: “I don’t care how the draft leaked. That’s a sideshow. What I care about is that a small number of conservative justices, who lied about their plans to the Senate, intend to deprive millions of women of reproductive care.”
Two Republican lawmakers, Senators Susan Collins, R‑Maine and Lisa Murkowski, R‑Alaska, have called out lies told to the country by Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch during their confirmation process.
Both men described the Roe v. Wade decision as settled law. So, for that matter, did Alito when questioned by Senator Diane Feinstein, D‑California, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The draft opinion, on which they have reportedly agreed to join Alito in signing their names to, “would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office,” Collins said in a statement. If the Court rules as Alito has written, added Murkowski, “it rocks my confidence in the Court right now.”
Such words are enough to bring tears to your eyes, if you happen to be a crocodile. We’ve seen it in a succession of Senate battles. Senator Collins is an independent voice in Congress only so long as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t need her vote. Murkowski is made of tougher stuff, but needs Democratic and independent votes to get reelected this fall.
McConnell is clearly a brains behind the demonize/define-the-leaker strategy. I watched a news conference at which he deflected all mention of what Alito has written and is trying to do. Instead, he bore down on the leak, saying: “By every indication, this was yet another escalation in the radical left’s ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges and substitute mob rule for the rule of law.”
The contrary may be the case, a campaign by Alito and Clarence Thomas to pressure the justices to abandon a narrowly written opinion – clearly Roberts’ preference – and mount a full, frontal assault to the right to privacy. They’ve appeared spoiling for a fight and have singled out Roe v. Wade in past opinions.
The assurance by Alito in his draft opinion, that overturning Roe is not a full-scale attack on privacy and stare decisis, is about as believable as Vladimir Putin’s description of the Ukraine invasion as a “special military operation.”
Seminal rulings, e.g. recognition of same-sex marriage, are in jeopardy.
Extremist Senator Marsha Blackburn, R‑Tennessee, has denounced as a “constitutionally unsound ruling” Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 decision by the Supremes that struck down a ban on contraception and defined privacy rights.
If you discount the right wing’s definition/disinformation campaign, just check the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal late last month. It hinted broadly of a leak out of the Supreme Court, with the goal of keeping Chief Justice Roberts from trying to find a “middle way” and pulling a colleague back to his side.
“We hope he (Roberts) doesn’t succeed – for the good of the Court and the country – it would prolong the Court’s abortion agony – far better the Court to leave the thicket of abortion regulation and return the issue to the states.”
Yeah, states that will subject poor people to the agony of having to seek back-alley abortions in desperate circumstances and suffering the consequences.