Progressive judge mocks SCOTUS (and offers a path forward for abortion)
Ian Millhiser is a journalist lawyer who focuses on the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the decline of liberal democracy in the United States. He received a JD from Duke University and is the author of two books on the Supreme Court.
Last June, the Supreme Court said in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.” Given that Dobbs tossed out a half-century of precedent, upended reproductive freedom in about half of the country, and effectively eliminated an entire constitutional right, you probably heard about this decision.
Nevertheless, on Monday, a federal judge in Washington, DC handed down a brief order suggesting that the Supreme Court may not have meant what it said in Dobbs. “The ‘issue’ before the Court in Dobbs was not whether any provision of the Constitution provided a right to abortion,” Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton appointee, wrote. “Rather, the question before the Court in Dobbs was whether the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution provided such a right.”
And that leaves open the possibility that the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits “slavery” and “involuntary servitude,” does forbid laws banning abortion. Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s order requires the parties to a criminal prosecution touching on abortion rights to brief whether the Thirteenth Amendment or “any other provision of the Constitution could confer a right to abortion.”
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The worst judge in the country could outlaw the abortion pill nationwide
Less of This
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, it promised to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” In virtually every instance in which it’s been returned to the people, which has mostly happened by ballot initiative and referendum, the people have acted to protect reproductive rights. Perhaps that explains why less than a year after the fall of Roe, conservative activists are trying to put the issue of abortion access into the hands of a single man for whom no one ever voted: a federal judge in Texas named Matthew Kacsmaryk. In the coming weeks, there is a very real possibility that Kacsmaryk will single-handedly outlaw medication abortion in all 50 states, massively disrupting access to reproductive health care across the entire country. Worse, there is a substantial likelihood that higher courts—including the Supreme Court—will let him get away with it.
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5th Circuit rules that domestic abusers can keep their guns
The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a gun while under a restraining order for domestic violence, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday in a decision with alarming implications for gun violence in America. Although mass shootings and intimate partner murders are heavily linked to domestic violence, the 5th Circuit held that the government cannot disarm alleged abusers solely because they are subject to a civil protective order. The court vacated the conviction of a man, Zackey Rahimi, who possessed a gun after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, and invalidated the federal law that prevents alleged abusers from bearing arms. If upheld, its decision will prove lethal to countless Americans who rely on the government to protect them from intimate partner violence.
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Why there was no racial reckoning
Wesley Lowery is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and the author of They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement.
If the summer of 2020 was, for many Americans, a breaking point, then the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floydpresented the nation’s leadership class with a crossroads. Would they radically rethink American policing, or would they retreat to the safety of piecemeal reform, earnestly applying Band-Aids over bullet wounds? Two and a half years later, Tyre Nichols is dead, and the choice they made is clear.
It’s not that nothing was done. Some departments vowed to make more data available, and others launched exploratory efforts to let specialists respond to mental-health emergencies. Activists in a handful of cities succeeded in securing cuts to their police budgets. Some cities proposed ending armed traffic enforcement.
But there was no Great Reckoning in American policing. No sweeping act of atonement. No radical reordering. Not even, at scale, the “reimagining” championed by the moderates. In many cases, reactionary backlash has outpaced the changes that prompted it. Society’s moral vacuum had been laid open before us. Rather than plug it, the most powerful among us watched as we were sucked further into the abyss.
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