Hard-Fought Freedoms on the Line

The 6-3 ruling last week by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is both the culmination of a decades-long strategy by the Republican Party and the religious right to which it long ago tied its fortunes, and the beginning of a long war by progressives to wrest back control of the Democratic Party from the neo-liberal elites who have turned it into a Republican-lite pseudo opposition.

Make no mistake. This Supreme Court decision is a huge disaster for women, minorities, and all those who want a freer and more democratic society.

The wording of the ruling, penned by the fanatic Federalist Society Catholic theocrat Samuel Alito, makes it clear that it is based upon an “original intent” concept of the Constitution where laws are evaluated for their constitutionality on the basis of what the white property-owning, and in many cases slave-owning founding men of the Constitutional Assembly believed to be the natural order of things. That so-called natural order included slavery, the genocide of North America’s Indigenous people, second-class status of women and freed blacks, the denial of voting rights to people — even white people — who owned no property, and the right to a public trial by a jury of one’s peers (except to those excluded populations, who weren’t even allowed in courtroom public galleries, much less in a jury box).

Alito, in outlawing national legalization of the right to abortion and to a woman’s right to choose regarding her own health, argued that abortion was not a long-standing tradition in American society. While that assertion is patently false and ignorant on its face, if it is allowed to stand, it can, and likely will be used and soon, as critics and even Alito supporters “Justice Clarence Thomas noted, to justify an end to federal protections for same-sex marriage, inter-racial marriage, a return to racially separated schools, and end to all efforts at achieving racial diversity in colleges, employment, jury selection, and perhaps even racially balanced voting districts, etc.

This ruling is nothing less than the first step in a return to an 18th-Century America.

That may sound apocalyptic, but it is not. That is pinched and brutal world that the leaders of the Republican Party — a party of a shrinking and ultimately doomed demographic — have been quietly working to re-establish in order to cling to power as long as possible.

The damage they can cause in that effort will be incalculable if they are not stopped.

Unfortunately, the opposition party in this country’s two-party duopoly is not up to the task. Since the election of President Richard M. Nixon in 1968, or perhaps even earlier with the death of Franklin Roosevelt and the assumption of the presidency by Vice President and overt racist Harry S. Truman, the Democratic Party has been taken over by Wall Street-loving, pro-Empire apparatchiks, who are more interested in clinging to the perks of power than even winning elections. What counts as a left-wing of the Congressional Democrats— people like Sen. Bernie Sanders or Rep. AOC for example, would be considered “moderates” in most European Countries, and the bulk of the candidates the Party’s leadership backs for nomination as candidates for national office are so compromised and lackluster that party leaders wind up unable to even win the backing of their full Congressional delegation for bills like making the Social Security tax apply to all income, as well as to capital gains, or expanding Medicare to people of all ages. In fact, it cannot even gain support to cancel the nearly $2 trillion in outstanding student debt that is preventing today’s young people from buying a home, starting a family, or even buying a car.

We need to realize that this state of affairs will only get worse as the impact of this new Supreme Court, having taken this first real blockbuster step of rolling over the nearly half-century-old Roe v. Wade precedent, moves on to lock in obscenely gerrymandered congressional election districts, state legislative districts and restrictive voting laws to protect their minority rule for years, and perhaps decades to come even as the white population of the United States shrinks down to a minority.

There is some hope. The spontaneous eruption of angry demonstrations this weekend by women and the many men who support them in fighting back against this theocratic/fascist assault on their most basic human right and polls showing broad support for abortion rights even among Republican women (or course!), show that the ground may be shifting. Young people, who have had a pretty dismal record of late when it comes to political involvement, are saying they’ve been shaken awake by this disaster. Further attacks on freedom and the expanded rights of minorities and on the female majority will further build that new awakening to a sense of existential crisis.

The danger is that the Democratic Party will do what it has learned to do best — to channel that anger into support for the same pathetic collapse into compromise and sell-out that has been the party’s modus operandi for decades.

It will be up to genuine radicals to push for a true radical response to this crisis.

The first step must be building a popular movement of resistance, a movement outside of party control. That movement should, beyond protest, organize support for pregnant women who need to funding, rides and offers of housing to be able to travel to states like New York and California that have vowed to keep abortions legal. Organizations and loose networks are already being formed to do just this. Of course some states will attempt to make traveling out of state to get pregnancy terminated or helping a woman do so, or even just advising women of such options a crime. But, as with the abolitionists of the underground railway of yore, we need to be ready to assume those risks.

Those who remember the bad old days of illegal abortions need to go public with their horror stories.

And with a critical Congressional election coming this November, radicals need to make it clear to Democratic candidates that they will not be re-elected unless they publicly declare their intent to back a law legally protecting the access to abortion nationally and in all states and requiring the coverage of abortion in all insurance plans and by Medicaid, and to both vote for the impeachment of all those new Justices who lied under oath about Row v. Wade being “settled law” or precedent, as well as Justice Thomas, who failed to recuse himself repeatedly in cases before the court in which his wife was working for or advising the appellate.

CounterPunch contributor DAVE LINDORFF is a producer along with MARK MITTEN on a forthcoming feature-length documentary film on the life of Ted Hall and his wife of 51 years, Joan Hall. A Participant Film, “A Compassionate Spy” is directed by STEVE JAMES and will premiere Sept. 2 at the Venice Film Festival. Lindorff is also writing a book on Ted Hall titled “A Spy for No Country,” to be published in Fall 2023 by Prometheus Press.