We all saw it coming—even me. I was long convinced that no Supreme Court would be stupid or vicious enough to end the right to legal abortion, but after Amy Coney Barrett was fastballed onto the Court, I knew I had been wrong. And in the weeks after Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked, anyone could see—well, anyone except the hapless Susan Collins—not only that the Court’s conservatives were going to overturn Roe v. Wade, but that they didn’t care what kind of jumbled reasoning it would take to get there.
This is the revenge of the Court’s right wing, who in their confirmation hearings had to dodge and dissemble with furrowed brows and deep concern (have I mentioned Susan Collins?) about things like stare decisis and their personal religious beliefs. They hated these questions because they knew that as soon as they got the chance, they would ignore stare decisis and impose their personal religious beliefs. The Court’s five hard-line conservatives, with a hand-wringing John Roberts trotting behind them, did what their critics warned they would do: They trashed 50 years of settled law.
Even that wasn’t enough for Clarence Thomas, a man who has seemed grimly determined to get even with America since his brutal confirmation hearings more than 30 years ago. Thomas now wants the Court to revisit the decisions that rely on its substantive due-process precedents, including rulings on issues such as contraception and gay marriage.
Republicans used to hate activist judges; I was once a Republican and I remember the high-minded speeches from a party that despised using courts to circumvent the legislature. Today, those same Republicans have no hope of persuading a majority of their fellow Americans to accept their views, and so they are more than happy to abuse the rules of the Senate and prop up the now-obvious lies of Supreme Court nominees to get what they want.