Moderate Left Bias
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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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The new Texas abortion ban which took effect last week — after the US Supreme Court took a pass on an emergency appeal of the law — has reawakened the debate about President Biden and congressional Democrats taking action to reform the high court after Donald Trump and his Republican allies spent four years tilting it to the hard right.
The new Texas law bans abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy. It allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else who helps a woman obtain an abortion — including those who give a woman a ride to a clinic or provide financial assistance to obtain an abortion. Private citizens who bring suits don’t need to show any connection to those they are suing.
During his term, Trump appointed fully one-third of the current Supreme Court, including one seat which Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell held open all through President Barack Obama’s final year as well as another to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg who died just weeks before last year’s presidential election.
The result is a Supreme Court with a much more pronounced rightward tilt and after it let the severe new Texas abortion ban go into effect last year, many across the country are worried anew about this conservative court striking down Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision which paved the way for legal access to abortion services nationwide for the first time.
“That’s why Biden and the Democrats have to immediately fix the Supreme Court. The Republicans stole a seat — [Neil] Gorsuch is sitting there — from Obama. They put Amy Coney Barrett there during an election. Voting had actually started. And [Brett] Kavanaugh, an accused rapist — credibly accused rapist. They have packed the court. And we have to fix it,” said civil rights attorney Nancy Erika Smith. “We have a radical Supreme Court beholden to very right-wing ideologues. The idea they would let this [Texas] law sit there and not stop it is outrageous.”
There have been different ideas for Supreme Court reform, but they mostly center around adding additional justices to the current nine, all of whom would be appointed by Democrat Biden, offsetting the votes of the more-conservative members.
“The [Supreme Court] majority said [the Texas law] was novel and complex. It’s not novel or complex. It’s much like the Ku Klux Klan Act stopped catching slaves in free states after the Dred Scott decision. Bounty hunters were allowed to go into free states and steal slaves back and bring them back to the South,” Smith added. “And after the Civil War our Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan Act, which gives you a right to sue individuals who act under a color of state law to violate the rights of others. That’s exactly what is happening here. It’s not complex.
“And the Supreme Court has ruled twice that that is acting under color of state law if the state law gives private rights of action that help you violate other citizens’ rights. So it’s really an outrageous decision and it is a lie that it is complex or novel. It is novel that they are using it for abortion. Even in 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that the state can’t delegate veto power over abortions to individuals. It is not that novel. It shows how far right-wing the Supreme Court has come,” she said.
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