If you want to scare your opponents into submission and paralysis, do what Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito just did with crafting a draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Thanks to the leak, we know that Alito took an action that is wildly unpopular but did it boldly, as if the world was behind him.
Indeed, Alito’s draft opinion is more than just substantively disturbing. The Dubya appointee’s cocksure tone adds insult to serious injury. The unjustified arrogance behind Alito’s writing was no doubt designed to instill fear and disorient us as we question reality.
The fact is, however, that poll after poll has established that Americans are against overturning Roe v. Wade. For example, only 32% of Gallup survey respondents indicated their support for such an extreme measure in 2021. Despite this, Alito begins his opinion by portraying abortion (in general) as a “profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views.” Without presenting data, he devotes his opening paragraph to leading readers to believe this is just about how different groups of people have varying opinions.
Given the fact that most Americans do not want to live in the misogynistic dystopia of conservative fantasy, Alito could have taken a more subdued, even conciliatory approach to his majority opinion. Instead, a document that is poised to lacerate a half-century of civil rights progress reads as if the Court is acting under some super-mandate.
Alito slams Roe as “egregiously wrong from the start,” condemning its reasoning as “exceptionally weak.” Giving cover to his conservative colleagues who acknowledged the importance of stare decisis at their Senate confirmation hearings, Alito declares that this legal doctrine “does not compel unending adherence to Roe’s abuse of judicial authority.” And so, Alito concludes, the Constitution and the rule of law “demand” the end of the Roe era, meaning women must be denied the full control over their bodies that Alito undoubtedly enjoys.
According to reporting from Politico, which broke the leak story earlier this week, Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Comey Barrett have so far signed onto Alito’s majority opinion, with Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision still unknown. Incidentally, the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 was decided 7-2, with the majority opinion authored by Justice Harry Blackmun, a Nixon appointee.
Letting Roe v. Wade stand is not only just but quite popular, despite what Alito and friends may want us to believe. The final Dobbs opinion should be released by the end of June. Although such unwarranted gaslighting may tempt the defeatist in us, we decide how we will react. Let’s use these two months to get our voices heard, spread the truth about what Americans want, and work even harder to ensure we live in a nation that guarantees equal rights and dignity to all regardless of sex.