We lived to see it

Judges and scholars of the U.S. Constitution, in the 1970s, scoffed at the notion of reading the document, and the laws passed by Congress, as if the people who wrote and ratified them meant them to bind and limit the agents of the government. Laws were read creatively; the Constitution was treated as merely a platform for liberal-progressive values. The Second Amendment was handled as an embarrassment that nobody took seriously. But the impossible happened: Even Democrat-appointed liberal judges began talking about reading the Constitution by its original meaning, and statutes by their text. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized an individual right to keep and bear arms — just as the Constitution says.

We lived to see it.

The big white whale was still out there. In 1984, only two members of the Supreme Court were avowedly against the illegitimate overreach of Roe, and the newest Justice (Sandra Day O’Connor) would not join them. In 1992, a Supreme Court with nine Republican appointees held, 5–4, that Roe must stand forever because a thing that stood for 19 years was too embedded in the fabric of our search for “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The following year, one of the long-standing dissenters was replaced by an enthusiast of abortion. In 2016, another of the dissenters died with a Democrat in the White House, and the Democrats appearing poised to claim another term. The end to a legal regime that claimed 60 million American lives seemed further and further away.

We lived to see it.