Tuesday, June 28, 2022

No hot takes on Dobbs: Curmudgeon offers opinions that can upset everyone on all sides, at least to some extent

This image, of what looks like a letter to some unnamed editor from a Mr. Robert Veitch of Richfield, has been making the rounds in my social media posts of late:
Here is the text of what appears in the image:
Overturning Roe requires another law be passed that ensures men bear equal responsibility for pregnancies. Call it the "Personal Responsibility Act." Using DNA as a verification, paternity for every embryo should be established and the male responsible obliged by law to support the woman and the child through the child's majority, including medical costs, living costs, education — all the costs a father normally assumes for his child. In addition, the child should have a full share of the father's estate if and when the father dies. If women cannot decide whether or not carry a child, fathers should not be able to decide whether or not to support the woman and the child. It's about time men assumed responsibility for the consequences of their pleasure.
Some of my outraged progressive friends on Facebook are posting this as if it were some thunderbolt from the blue -- take this you nasty Pro-Lifers! As if this were some new, threatening, and hitherto unknown concept.

To which I say... um.

I am not endorsing a specific statutory proposal, not that one has been made, but it seems to me that this letter reflects what IS and what SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE BEEN the correct attitude. Women should always have insisted that any man capable of completing the marital act, inside or outside of wedlock, should bear the consequences, should any result. Duh.

And any male of the species who desires to be called a "man," and not just a sperm resevoir or animated sex toy, should embrace responsibility for one's offspring as eagerly as he embraced said offspring's mother.

Of course, we have paternity laws now, and "men" who evade them, leaving their children to be raised by over-stressed single mothers or, worse, as wards of the state. Such "men" should be shunned and shamed. And society should do all possible to provide for the spurned mother and her child.

But I promised not-hot takes on Dobbs. Here they are:
  • Dobbs, the shrill protests notwithstanding, is not judicial legislation. In reversing Roe v. Wade, the Dobbs court undid what amounted to judicial legislation. It returns the matter of whether to allow abortions, or under what circumstances, to the leglislatures of the several states, where the matter should have been, in my opinion, all along. That's such a mild take that, at one time, no less than Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed with it.

  • Dobbs did not outlaw abortion anywhere. Some states had legislation in place that imposed various restrictions on abortion, up to and including outright abolition, that were 'triggered' or revived by the reversal of Roe. Until recently, Illinois was one such state. But our enlightened, 'progressive' legislature changed the laws a while back, making Illinois one of the most pro-abortion states in the union. And yet, here in Illinois, our political leaders howled in outrage, as if something had actually changed here. Gov. Pritzker issued an immediate call for a special session of our General Assembly in the coming weeks to take "swift action to further enshrine our commitment to reproductive health care rights and protections."

    Our legislature will posture and preen about how they support the right of women to make their own health decisions. As long, of course, as women the right health decisions -- as opposed to, say, making a decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Then the State can interfere, and must! Other states, Red States, as they are called, will now have to live with the consequences of the statutory anti-abortion regimes they have created: Promising bounties to snitches and informers who turn in their neighbors who might seek an abortion. Freedom and Justice -- East German style!

    For all their supposed ideological differences, all of these performance artists, Left and Right, are united in this: They are all a**holes.

  • None of the Supreme Court justices promised not to overturn Roe. Or to support it, for that matter. Sens. Collins and Manchin may say now that they thought they'd received assurances, but it is not so. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AOC to her friends and foes alike, wants the Trump-era justices 'impeached' for 'lying under oath' about their views on Roe at their confirmation hearings. What crap.

    No judge -- at any level -- can ethically say in advance how he or she would rule on a given case. In Illinois, Supreme Court Rule 67A(3)(d)(i) expressly provides that a candidate for judicial office shall not "make statements that commit or appear to commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies or issues within cases that are likely to come before the court." That's for the man or woman hoping to sit in the basement of the Daley Center hearing speeding cases in Traffic Court. But it applies just as much to those who would sit on the nation's highest court.

    Elena Kagan had never been a judge at any level when she was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010. At the time, as I wrote in this post, the red-meat Right was particularly upset about this because they didn't have a body of judical opinions they could use against her. They did have an article she'd written, some years before, "in which she criticized the Supreme Court confirmation process as vacuous, farcical and devoid of substance." I said her confirmation hearing would be no different -- and it wasn't -- and I added, "Grandstanding Senators from both parties will demand that Kagan commit herself on abortion, gay rights, and the proper reach of executive power. Some idiot will undoubtedly ask for her opinion on Obama Care. Were she ever to answer such loaded questions, she would be committed, not confirmed." She didn't answer those questions, of course, and she was confirmed, just as Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett likewise dodged those questions on their way to confirmation.

  • Dobbs does not signal an attack on gay marriage or birth control or anything else that the "experts" were claiming five minutes after the opinion was handed down. The majority opinion is 108 pages long; with the three concurring opinions and the dissent, the whole Dobbs opinion is 213 pages long. Yet, all manner of opinions were launched within minutes of the first report that the case had been decided making all sorts of outlandish claims. You may be assured that these claims were based on supposition or political expedience, not on actual analysis of the case.

    At several points in the majority opinion, the Court goes out of its way to assure the world that it is not using this case as a 'starting point' for some new judicial offensive in the Culture Wars. In the law we sometimes refer to an argument as suggesting a 'parade of horribles' -- this is bad enough, but this leads naturally to x, y, and z.... This one statement from the majority opinion (slip op. at pp. 71-72) addresses the dissent's charge that Dobbs is just the beginning of such a parade:
Finally, the dissent suggests that our decision calls into question Griswold, Eisenstadt, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Post, at 4–5, 26–27, n. 8. But we have stated unequivocally that “[n]othing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” Supra, at 66. We have also explained why that is so: rights regarding contraception and same-sex relationships are inherently different from the right to abortion because the latter (as we have stressed) uniquely involves what Roe and Casey termed “potential life.” Roe, 410 U.S., at 150 (emphasis deleted); Casey, 505 U.S., at 852. Therefore, a right to abortion cannot be justified by a purported analogy to the rights recognized in those other cases or by “appeals to a broader right to autonomy.” Supra, at 32. It is hard to see how we could be clearer. Moreover, even putting aside that these cases are distinguishable, there is a further point that the dissent ignores: Each precedent is subject to its own stare decisis analysis, and the factors that our doctrine instructs us to consider like reliance and workability are different for these cases than for our abortion jurisprudence.
Justice Clarence Thomas, bless his heart, did provide some kindling to stoke the fears of all the "experts" in his separate concurrence. But he joined the majority opinion, which means he subscribes, whether he likes it or not, to the above statement. And the attack in his concurrence is on the legal doctrine of substantive due process, which underpins those other cases, not on the 'rights' to contraception or gay marriage as such. And none of the other justices joined his concurrence. He is on an island on this one and there is no reason to think that any of the Trump-era justices plan to join him there.
  • Abortion is a moral issue, not a legal issue. Until and unless there is a national consensus on abortion, there is no law, or set of laws, that will heal the nation's divisions on this contentious issue.

    Here is the inescapable truth: Depending on who asks the questions, and how they are asked, a majority of Americans are both pro-life and pro-abortion. Americans are in favor of a right to abortion in at least these four circumstances: (1) in cases of rape, (2) or incest, (3) where medically necessary to save the life of the mother, or (4) when a 'nice' girl gets 'into trouble.'

    It's this last category that will get people screaming at one another.

    The challenge for those who claim to be pro-life will be to persuade their neighbors that abortion, whether legal or not, is morally wrong. That's going to be a very steep hill to climb.