There’s a reason that the partisan hacks of the Supreme Court keep protesting about how they’re not partisan hacks.
It’s an ironic turn of events, if a sadly unsurprising one as first Amy Coney Barrett and now Clarence Thomas delivered speeches asking Americans to trust them—speeches that just happened to come before the Supreme Court’s next session when they’ve agreed to hear the Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that’s teed up for the high court’s Trumpy new majority to end abortion as we’ve known it.
They’re coming for your uterus, and that’s not hyperbole. The central tenet of Roe is viability, that “a person may choose to have an abortion until a fetus becomes viable, based on the right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Viability means the ability to live outside the womb, which usually happens between 24 and 28 weeks after conception.”
Since 1973, American women have had the right to end a pregnancy before viability. Now, the Supreme Court has allowed that right to be subverted in the state of Texas. Women there are already driving hundreds of miles to Colorado and New Mexico to get abortions. Three out of four abortion clinics in San Antonio are no longer performing the procedure.
Now the justices who used the shadow docket to let that happen are begging to be themselves judged on their shtick and not on their actions. On Thursday, speaking at a Catholic university, Thomas said that “when we begin to venture into the legislative or executive branch lanes, those of us, particularly in the federal judiciary with lifetime appointments, are asking for trouble.”
You’ll remember Thomas as someone who said in 1992 that Roe v. Wade was “plainly wrong” and in 2020, Thomas upped that to “grievously wrong for many reasons, but the most fundamental is that its core holding—that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to abort her unborn child—finds no support in the text of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
In his speech this week, Thomas also warned that “we have lost the capacity” as leaders “to not allow others to manipulate our institutions when we don’t get the outcomes that we like.” Hmmm, didn’t his wife Ginni try to “manipulate our institutions” when she didn’t get the outcome she liked? She was a big Jan. 6 cheerleader, telling a group of election-denying insurrectionists on Facebook that “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING.” Two days later, she added “[Note: written before violence in US Capitol]” and a few days after that she ended up having to write to her husband’s former clerks that “I owe you all an apology. I have likely imposed on you my lifetime passions.”
I guess her “lifetime passion” is overturning elections?
As to venturing into the executive branch’s lane, that didn’t seem to be an issue for the Thomases during the Trump administration when, according to Slate, “Trump has rewarded Thomas with an extraordinary amount of access to the Oval Office. Her advocacy group Groundswell got an audience with the president in early 2019. According to the New York Times, the meeting was arranged after Clarence and Ginni Thomas had dinner with the Trumps.”
Clarence Thomas’ speech about court overreach came a week after Justice Amy Coney Barrett told a group at the University of Louisville, “My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” since “judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties.” She was introduced at the McConnell Center by her patron and the center’s namesake, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who some might say is the very definition of a partisan hack.
I understand the temptation of these justices to lie to the American public. They want to have it both ways, to serve the Republican agenda and overturn Roe while also maintaining what’s left of the court’s reputation for transcending ideology.
But, unfortunately for Thomas and Barrett, most of us will judge them on their actions and not ridiculous speeches about them. I expect that as the Republican agenda gets ever more batshit, these Trumpy justices will give more speeches pleading with people not to see them as the partisan hacks that they are.
The American people are not morons, and while these justices may abuse their power to decide the law, they can’t spit on us and make us believe that it’s raining.