Today’s Supreme Court ruling, striking down women’s most basic rights, is blatantly unconstitutional and frankly just plain evil. There’s just no way to properly convey how hideous this is. But it’s also something else: this ruling is just so damn risky. It sharply increases the odds of the Democrats winning the midterms and the court being expanded. It’s as if they’re trying to hurry up and finish the job because they expect to go down soon anyway.
Every action in politics has a reaction. Everyone in politics understands this, even if most political observers don’t. Today’s move doesn’t make the Supreme Court more powerful, it makes the Supreme Court far less powerful. With all the pushback that’ll ensue, and the legal and legislative consequences that are about to follow, it’ll be much more difficult for the Supreme Court to pull off deranged right wing rulings going forward. The Supreme Court knows this, but decided to blow its wad on this ruling anyway.
It really makes you wonder why. For decades, the right wing has understood that vowing to overturn Roe v. Wade, but never actually doing it, was an easy way to keep getting back into power. It motivated the minority of Americans who oppose abortion to vote in huge percentages. And because the Republicans never did overturn it once in power, the pro-choice majority of voters never acted like single-issue voters on this issue.
But strategically speaking, actually overturning Roe V. Wade is just plain dumb. It will, obviously, motivate the pro-choice majority to turn out and vote with the kind of force we’ve seen from the anti-woman minority for the past few decades. Whatever the odds were of the Democrats winning the midterms, and of Biden being reelected, those odds just doubled. And that obviously translates to the current Supreme Court right wing majority being dismantled, either through court expansion, or through attrition.
So why do this? With the exception of cult lunatic Amy Coney Barrett, do any of these right wing Supreme Court justices even care about abortion? Sure, their wealthy donors have instructed them to take that position. But even those donors understand how politics works, and that this ruling likely marks the beginning of the end of their control, not the expansion of it.
One possibility is that these Justices, and their mega donors, have simply lost their minds. One odd consequence of the Trump era is that it convinced a lot of other right wing political figures that they’re invincible. Trump ran in 2016 on a campaign of swinging for the fences when it came to right wing evil, and of saying the quiet part out loud. It was actually a highly ineffective strategy, and he lost by millions of votes. That strategy also served him so poorly in office, he ended up losing reelection by an even bigger margin.
Yet because the mainstream media (left, right and center) falsely portrayed Trump as “getting away with it all” the entire time, various right wing political figures have since decided to make “bold” (read: stupid) moves under the mistaken belief they could get away with anything. Ask someone like Jeffrey Clark, whose home was just raided by the Feds, or Matt Gaetz, who’s reduced to begging for a pardon he didn’t get, how that’s working out for them. But has the Trump mirage led these Supreme Court justices to mistakenly believe they’re invincible too?
Then there’s the other possibility. These January 6th hearings, and the DOJ’s accelerating aggression, make clear that a whole lot of right wing political figures are going down. At this rate there’s a strong chance Ginni Thomas will end up indicted, and it’s not clear if Clarence Thomas has legal exposure as well. If the right wingers on the Supreme Court expect to lose Clarence Thomas in this scandal, then they’d be one death by natural causes away from losing their majority.
If this Supreme Court really does believe it’s running out of time before it loses its power, that shouldn’t necessarily make you feel better. Deranged extremists, who feel they have nothing to lose because they expect to fall anyway, can be extraordinarily unpredictable when it comes to their derangedness. But make no mistake: this court just tied one and a half of its hands behind its back, and will now be playing defense going forward – no matter how derangedly it decides to play that defense.
All we can do at this point is use this outrageous act of evil as fuel for winning the midterms and expanding our Senate majority to the point that we can exempt Supreme Court confirmations from the filibuster. We might need as few as 52 Democratic Senators, making Manchin and Sinema irrelevant, to pull it off. We must get to work on winning the midterms. Its all we can do. We now have our marching orders, and we must follow them. Let’s go win the midterms.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report