On the 24th June 2022 the United States Supreme Court issued its Opinion in Dobbs versus Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case concerned the legality of Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act 2018 which restricted abortion to within 15 weeks gestation.
In ruling on the Mississippi case, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion rights rulings in Roe 1973 and in Casey 1992. The Court confirmed Justice Alito’s Draft opinion leaked some weeks ago – a draft about which I have already blogged.
The outcome of Dobbs v Jackson is historic because it overturns the legal position on abortion in the USA for the last 49 years. But Dobbs v Jackson also highlights the cultural clash at work in the western world since the Enlightenment – and it exposes the lawless nature of Rights Fundamentalism.
Induced Abortion is an issue which I regard as pivotal in identifying the ruling ethos of a Society. The attitude to the practice of Abortion in any society at any given time indicates exactly where that society finds itself philosophically in the cultural clash which has been at work now for 3 centuries.
The last 50 years have demonstrated the triumph of Enlightenment Materialism in the western world. The identification of abortion as “a woman’s Right” during the last half century is no coincidence. It is a symptom of the deeply disturbing malaise brought on by the Cult of Mammon which rejects the historical influence and paradigm of Christianity.
Materialism has reshaped our entire world for the worse. But the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs gives hope that the descent into decadence and ruin may now be arrested, even reversed.
I’d like to comment in three ways:
- indexing the contents of the Court ruling to aid access and comprehension
- reactions to Dobbs from media, government and rights activists
- identifying the imposture of rights fundamentalism
an outline of the Dobbs v Jackson ruling contents
The ruling is available as a 213 page pdf file from the Supreme Court at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/19-1392_6j37.pdf
The pdf file comprises 6 separately paged documents which are as follows:
- pdf page 1 – the 8 page summary – called appropriately a “Syllabus” – cf Roman Catholic terminology and the reference to heresy
- pdf page 9 – the Court’s majority ruling Opinion in 7 parts over 79 pages with the Appendices citing supporting State and Territory legislation from pdf page 87 [page 79] to pdf page 116 [page 108]
- pdf page 117 – the first of 3 opinions agreeing with the majority view, namely Justice Thomas over 7 pages, then
- pdf page 124 – Justice Kavanaugh over 12 numbered pages
- pdf page 136 – Chief Justice Roberts over 12 numbered pages
- pdf page 148 – the 3 dissenting and “liberal” Justices over 66 numbered pages, the final 6 of which are treated as an Appendix
The Court’s majority explains why Roe and Casey must be overturned from page 51 of the pdf, [page 41 of the majority ruling document itself]; the Court addresses the objections of the 3 dissenting, liberal Justices from page 77 of the pdf [page 66 of the document]; and addresses questions raised by the concurring opinions from page 80 pdf [page 72 of the document] in particular concerning the suggestion of further delay in overturning Roe v Wade and Casey v Planned Parenthood.
Crucially, guidance for the way in which the Court should approach future constitutional challenges on this issue is given from page 85 pdf, [page 77 of the ruling]. On page 86 pdf, [page 78 of the document], the Court makes clear how this issue must be put into a broader context. This contrasts significantly with the hitherto dominant principle of “a woman’s right to choose”. The majority now state real world factors:
- respect for and preservation of prenatal life at all
stages of development
- the protection of maternal health and safety
- the elimination of particularly gruesome or barbaric medical procedures
- the preservation of the integrity of the medical profession
- the mitigation of fetal pain, and
- the prevention of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or disability.
The majority ruling sums up the new position in ruling that:
The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.
Personally, I have always thought that the Tenth Amendment required this perspective and demarcation. It is worth noting here that recent decisions of the Supreme Court are consistent with the perspective provided by the Tenth Amendment in addressing the serious problem of Federal overreach in recent decades. NB, for example, W.Virginia v Environmental Protection Agency ruling of Supreme Court 30th June 2022]
media, government and Rights activists reactions
In the United States we have seen the homes of majority ruling Conservative Justices so viciously picketed that they are under police protection, and the Supreme Court building itself is cordoned off and patrolled.
As my readers will be familiar with reactions in the Anglosphere, however, I will confine myself to considering reactions in France.
Even though abortion was legalised in 1973, President Macron, his centrist coalition and the hard left are all in favour of engraving Abortion as a right in the French Constitution – this is also being advocated by the European Union as a fundamental Human Right.
All this constitutes hysterical over-reaction inspired by narrow minded prejudice. It betrays ignorance of the facts of the American ruling and legal situation, and also betrays the callous disregard of the range of real issues in play with induced abortion.
The problem in the United States is that the issue was not settled in the legislature, but hi-jacked by the Abortion Rights lobby and imposed at federal level on all States regardless in 1973 by a handful of liberal Justices exercising unconstitutional over-reach into matters belonging to legislatures.
This fact has escaped the prejudiced mindset of the French media establishment which assumes abortion to be the non-negotiable Right of women. This mindset betrays the religious assumptions of the western world’s intelligentsia in the 21st century. It demonstrates the totalitarian and propagandic nature of “news” today. This intolerant mindset manifests itself in all issues as reported by todays’ main stream media.
Presenters on France’s two principal evening news channels each posed the question – and with feeling – how can a handful of conservative judges impose their view on the entire nation, and thereby undermine the progress gained 50 years ago ?
This is typical of today’s fact refusing mindset. They fail to realise that the Right to abort was originally imposed by a handful of politically partisan justices. It was the imposition of that perverse ruling by a handful of liberal Justices in 1973 which created so many constitutional and legal problems thereafter, and also failed to resolve the issue. But because the outcome was in their favour, it was perfectly acceptable, indeed commendable, when that clique of Justices imposed their view on America !
Abortion rights fanatics rule out all compassion and concern for the life of the unborn child by insisting we confine our emotional concern to the woman who feels trapped in an unwanted pregnancy. They rule out all concern for the father and for the families implicated in a woman’s pregnancy.
This is where the political Creed of Rights Fundamentalism born of the Religion of Materialism leads us: the callous elimination of the true range of issues at stake in the real world; the elevation to Unique Moral Rectitude of just one perspective – and yes, in the real world a legitimate and understandable perspective – to the exclusion of all other, equally vital views and concerns.
exposing the imposture of Rights Fundamentalism
We see the civilisational and cultural clash in the content and thinking of the 213 pages of the 6 documents which make up the Supreme Court’s adjudication in Dobbs v Jackson WHO.
The determining Opinion of the Conservative Justices of the Supreme Court demonstrates consideration of a realistic range of issues at work; it also demonstrates an interpretation according to their designated Constitutional role, and according to the traditional paradigm of Constitutional and legal thinking in the Anglo-American tradition – and may I flag up here Yoram Hazony’s excellent book just published in the States, “Conservatism: a rediscovery”.
But the liberal Justices ignore all this. Their Dissent opens with women’s rights and equality; nothing else matters. It opens with asserting the legitimacy of Roe and Casey, regardless of the fact that the Majority has comprehensively analysed those cases and demonstrated that they are unconstitutional. Their discussion of stare decisis persists in the same narrow-minded vein, insisisting – yet again – that Roe and Casey are the only true, legitimate rulings – see pdf pages 202 following. Their Dissent resembles a political rant, not a judicial ruling, and bears the trademarks of political correctness:
- no engagement with any other perspective
- talking only on their own terms
- decontextualising contrary evidence and applying it tangentially to support their thesis
- imposing their Ideology as the reference point of reality and morality
Their censorious treatment of the evidence and the legal issues is symptomatic of the ideological interpretation the liberal justices bring to bear on the Constitution. So extreme is this treatment, it blinds them to all other considerations. Such ideological objectives and constraints cause them to denigrate and ignore Conservative reasoning. They readily dismiss and so censor all consideration of the comprehensive range of concerns actully at work here – not least the practical, philosphical and legal issues and contexts.
This distorted liberal view is justified technically by the same living instrument doctrine we see at work in the European Court of Justice when it adjudicates European Union Treaties. It is regarded as a legitimate conception of legal interpretation – indeed these days it is treated by all progressive jurists as Orthodoxy.
This is fraud. The whole point of having a Constitution is to provide a definitive framework via which all other issues are to be assessed. It defines the rules of play. It is complete nonsense, therefore, to reinvent the meaning of that framework according to a particular ideology. It destroys the very raison d’etre and purpose of writing down a Constitution in the first place. Which, of course, is why they do it.
It is fundamentally false. Indeed it is lawlessness dressed up by left-wing, liberal academics and jurists as a legitimate, philosophical approach.
In reality it is a criminal approach inspired by a revolutionary Ideology which respects nothing and no-one but its own perspective and paradigm. This is the essential mindset and practice of totalitarianism; it is the intellectual justification for revolution, chaos and decadence. It is the very denial and the very destruction of the actual meaning of law and order and living by the Rule of Law. It is a criminally minded imposition – a morally criminal imposture. Witness their callous discount of human life at its most vulnerable – the developing child in the womb.
Edmund Burke saw it all clearly back in 1790 when he wrote in his Reflections on the Revolution in France [paragraphs 89 and 90 of the Catlin edition]:
Against these their rights of man let no government look for security …. the objections of these speculatists, if its forms do not quadrate with their theories, are as valid against such an old and beneficent government as against the most violent tyranny or the greenest usurpation. They are always at issue with governments, not on a question of abuse, but on a question of competency and a question of title. I have nothing to say to the clumsy subtilty of their political metaphysics…… In denying their false claims of right, I do not mean to injure those which are real, and are such as their pretended rights would totally destroy.
Such “pretended rights” include the right to destroy your unborn baby, regardless of all other very real concerns.
This is the frightening result of what Edmund Burke identified in paragraph 251 of his Reflections on the Revolution in France as the spirit of atheistical fanaticism.