Be Careful What You Wish For

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

Margaret J. Wheatley

Last week, to the dismay of Democrats, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending a women constitutional right for an abortion.  The Court’s majority said, “Roe and Casey must be overruled” as “no such right [to abortion] is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision” including “the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”.  Its decision relied heavily on Glucksberg v. Washington wherein the Court ruled unenumerated rights must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition”. 

Employing the same rationale, Justice Thomas in his concurring opinion and conservatives in several states are openly advocating the overturn of other broadly-accepted although socially-controversial rulings; guaranteeing an individual’s right to interracial marriage (Loving), obtaining contraceptives (Griswold), engaging in private, consensual sexual behaviors (Lawrence), and entering into a same-sex marriage (Obergefell) … all involving private actions of consenting adults, liberties politicians and judges should never attempt to limit.

Days earlier the Court struck down a New York law limiting regulating handgun carry permits, sided with parents and religious institutions challenging Maine’s policies barring public education funds available for secular recipients for being used by religious ones, and weakened penalties of failures to provide the Miranda Warnings.

Democrats have only themselves to blame for the Court’s hard turn to the right! 

In 2013, frustrated with Republican roadblocks to their judicial nominees, Senate Majority Leader Reid engineered a change lowering the votes necessary to confirm most presidential appointments, other to the Supreme Court, from 60 to 51.  Four years later, then GOP Majority Leader McConnell orchestrated a similar strategy, reducing the votes needed to approve Supreme Court nominees to 51.  

Had Democrats not been so short-sighted in 2013, 60 votes would still likely be needed to confirm Supreme Court nominees; making it unlikely Gorsuch, Kavanaugh or Comey-Barrett would have been confirmed. 

Many Congressional Democrats, failing to heeded the law of unintended consequences, are advocating an increase in the number of justices on the Court while they enjoy a Senate majority.  As with their actions in 2013, such a court-packing strategy could spell disaster for them in the future.  They and their supporters would be better served by ensuring frustrated and like-minded voters turn out in November.