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Supreme Court to Progressives: Wake Up

Ted Rall on

The Supreme Court just sent us a wake-up call. Pro-reality Americans, i.e., the 40% of voters to the left of the Democratic Party, should be grateful.

A freedom essential to half the population never should have hinged upon a flimsy and poorly reasoned legal opinion. Congress should have followed the example of other countries where abortion is legal, and passed a federal law decades ago. Instead, neither party acted on behalf of women. (And let's not forget men. Many of them want/need their partners to have abortions.)

Democrats are not the answer. They had the chance to codify abortion in 2009, when they had a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate and control of the House. Then-President Barack Obama chose not to lift a finger. "Not the highest legislative priority," Obama sneered as he focused on what he cared about, doling out trillions to Wall Street megabanks. Instead, he channeled his inner laissez-faire Republican, urging Americans to "reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies." Women should despise him and the do-nothing Democrats.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade shines a spotlight on other rights that rest upon the shaky foundation of a Supreme Court decision: men's right to have sex with one another, same-sex marriage, marriage between different races, parental rights over child-rearing and the sale of contraceptives. This is no way to run a government.

Whether or not the right-wing majority of the Supreme Court is mean and stupid is less important than the fundamental truth that has been revealed: The separation of powers is broken.

When something is important, there oughta be a law.

 

Not a ruling.

When a majority of voters arrive at a societal consensus on an issue like those mentioned above, a functional political system responds with a corresponding law negotiated and passed by a legislature. The U.S., however, is too riddled with partisan dysfunction and corrupted by corporate lobbyists to effectively address advances in culture and technology. Thus Congress can't or won't accommodate the 7 out of 10 Americans who want a European-style national health care system and higher taxes on the rich or the 56% who want to slash Pentagon spending.

Because Congress is impotent, the highest court of the judicial branch has been stepping in to legislate from the bench rather than limit itself to its intended role as arbiter of conflicts between laws and the constitution.

Americans have accepted the bastardization of the separation of powers because the result tended to respect popular opinion. In 2015, when the Court legalized same-sex marriage, for example, 57% of voters agreed. (Now it's 71%.)

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