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Stiehm: The fence — Which side are you on?

By Jamie Stiehm - | May 13, 2022

Jamie Stiehm

Now comes Justice Samuel Alito, the Princeton man and Eastern elitist who never met a woman he liked, save colleague Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court. He’s a “justice” sitting in judgment on us.

Known for his sharp and sour edge, Alito authored a 98-page “draft” opinion that takes away human rights, a rarity in American history.

Reproductive rights are constitutional rights, and you can’t take them away. But in condemning the law of the land for two generations, Alito praises a cruel judge who sent women to hang for witchcraft in 1662.

You can’t make that up.

The Court is up in arms about the draft’s leak. Most members wanted to strike down a landmark 1973 decision in dark silence, not the light of day. Republican senators play the same game, trying to distract us from defending our rights as they near their goal.

Anonymous leaker, thank you.

Now the public outcry comes to the courthouse door. The Court fenced itself in, a wonderful visual metaphor, after peaceful chants and protests. I know, I was there.

(Note: this column is not for the faint of heart. Forces opposing reproductive freedom are not “pro-life” in the war of words and shall not be called by that name.)

The 6-3 Supreme Court is clearly captured by the far Right, with former President Donald Trump’s fingerprints on the crime scene.

Yet Alito was named to the high court by former President George W. Bush. Like Trump, Bush lost the popular vote.

This makes Alito’s standing with “we the people” a farce. Here’s how bad things are behind the fence on First Street. Five of nine justices were nominees by a Republican president who lost the popular vote.

Five makes a reckless majority that represents a minority of the American body politic.

Bush also named Chief Justice John Roberts, who cultivates the mien of a reasonable man. Then the Trump Three tarnished the institution in four years: Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and crybaby Brett Kavanaugh, who “busted (his) tail” at Yale.

Democratic leaders are fighting mad, feeling deceived by the Trump Three’s testimony that they would accept settled law. There’s no pretense of comity left, a word seldom spoken in the halls of power.

Shaped by all-male institutions, the Ivy League and the Army, Alito, 72, was champing to overturn Roe v. Wade. The 1973 decision came in an era of expanding civil and women’s rights, causing no controversy at the time.

There is no judicial restraint laced in Alito’s language, denouncing the decision as “egregiously wrong.” The 98 pages are full of sound and fury.

Alito argues that reproductive freedom (“abortion”) is not framed in the 1787 Constitution. A harsh reminder that women had no rights then, literally locked out of the Philadelphia room.

Listen up, this is not just about “bodies.”

On this side of the fence, it’s about our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Life chances are much greater with equality, freedom and autonomy. The court would contract such rights and destinies and put women and girls in harm’s way.

A Catholic Republican, Alito made no secret of his scorn for former President Barack Obama — and disrespect for Congress across the street.

Sadly, in 2016 Obama played into enemy hands by retreating from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., vow not to fill an empty court seat.

Obama shrugged and failed to fight for his own nominee, Merrick Garland. “Hillary (Clinton) was going to win anyway,” so he thought.

That grave mistake left one place open for the incoming Trump.

Roberts does not want his name on an infamous decision, so the gauntlet is in Alito’s chamber. Nice try. The Roberts court will be remembered in the same league as the Taney court’s 1857 incendiary Dred Scott ruling.

Chief Justice Roger Taney, a virulent racist, ruled that Black people could never have rights that “the white man was bound to respect.’

Public opinion was outraged. Taney’s words were a catalyst for the Civil War.

On Wednesday, the 50-50 Senate will vote on reproductive rights. Senators will be put to the test and on record in an election year. While the bill will come up short, how useful to see who’s on which side of the fence.

Jamie Stiehm may be reached at JamieStiehm.com. Follow her on Twitter @JamieStiehm.


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