To me, it’s not just the coercive implications of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade for women’s decisions about their bodies and the threat of that opinion on established rights to contraception, same-sex marriage, and gender choice. It is not just the reactionary positions of a majority of the Supreme Court on related issues, such as unrestricted carry, immigrant rights, climate change policy, racial discrimination, and campaign finance. It is not just the court’s permission for red states to undermine democracy through a variety of antidemocratic election maneuvers.
No, the underlying questions are more fundamental: How can a society that tolerates duplicity and hypocrisy at the highest levels of public office survive? Where does the promotion, and even admiration, of leaders lacking basic integrity, decency, and respect for democracy lead, other than to authoritarianism? How can our society persevere without a modicum of human compassion, fair play, and respect for human rights?
Yes, Alito and his fellow justices and affiliated political leaders are failing the American public, but more important, they are failing us because we have failed ourselves.
When I first learned about civics in fifth grade, I was taught that one of the key responsibilities of the judiciary is to “protect the rights of the minority against the will of the majority.” If the Supreme Court does, in fact, overturn Roe v. Wade, it will be a case of the will of the minority restricting the rights of the majority. Something is upside-down here.