LQCs: The New Era of Reducing Civil Rights, via Religious Reactionaries

So we are now in an era when the Supreme Court — driven by religious reactionaries — is *taking away* rights rather than ensuring they apply to all people. What’s next? as many are asking. Right to marry? To segregate? To vote? We may be descending into a religious dystopia.


Heather Digby Parton, 4 May 2022

And so here we are. A minority, placed in control of the U.S. Supreme Court by a president who received a minority of the popular vote and then, when he lost reelection, tried to overturn our democracy, is explicitly taking away a constitutional right that has been protected for fifty years. Its attack on federal protection of civil rights applies not just to abortion, but to all the protections put in place since World War II: the right to use birth control, marry whomever you wish, live in desegregated spaces, and so on.

The draft opinion says the state legislatures are the true heart of our democracy and that they alone should determine abortion laws in the states. But Republican-dominated legislatures have also curtailed the right to vote. When Democrats in Congress tried to protect voting rights, Senate Republicans killed it with the filibuster.

Tonight’s news is an alarm like the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which gave a few white men who controlled state legislatures power over the American majority.

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Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin, 4 May 2022: Let’s throw out the term ‘culture wars.’ This is religious tyranny.

It’s important to identify the nature of the threat to Americans to understand the reaction that would likely follow a ruling along the lines Alito laid out. A Supreme Court decision that would criminalize abortion, eviscerating the ambit of privacy and personal autonomy afforded by the 14th Amendment, would expand governmental power into every nook and cranny of life — from a doctor’s office in Texas treating a transgender child, to intimate relations in a bedroom in Georgia, to a pharmacy counter in Ohio. Will government dictate a set of views that have not had majority support for decades?

Later she cites a familiar incoherent conflation of religion and science:

Other Republicans have given away the scheme. In his 11-point plan, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, declares: “The nuclear family is crucial to civilization, it is God’s design for humanity, and it must be protected and celebrated. To say otherwise is to deny science.” Put aside the utter incoherence (is it God or science?): The senator is explicitly calling for state power to be used in the service of his religious beliefs.

Rick Scott does not understand science.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson, from a forthcoming book: A Few Words on Abortion

Can a political platform without contradictions be constructed from the relevant facts?

For instance, the left leaning movement to protect Earth’s oceans is long associated with people who are also pro-choice. The same people who want to “save the whales,” according to pro-lifers, will not hesitate to “abort the babies.”

Other demographics feel strongly that people who are pregnant should not have the right to terminate their pregnancy after the first six weeks, around the time you can first detect a heartbeat via ultrasound. They cite murder. To be clear, this would be the murder of a nonviable human embryo that weighs no more than a paper clip. Part the curtains of this community and you find strong influence from fundamentalist and otherwise conservative Christian groups.

Of the fifteen most religious states, eleven have laws on the books ready to ban or greatly restrict abortion the moment the US Supreme Court overturns the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade. Clearly, belief in a loving, compassionate Christian God and in the sanctity of all human life (viable or not) strongly motivates these views. So they’re not being bad citizens, they’re being good Christians—although ten of those same eleven states also embrace the death penalty.

Meanwhile, 94% of Republican senators—a fraction that has steadily increased over the years—and three out of four Republican voters support some kind of anti-abortion/pro-life posture, strictly enforced by laws. But Republicans are typically the loudest for wanting less, not more, government intervention in our lives.

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LA Times, Aaron Tang, 5 May 2022: Op-Ed: The Supreme Court flunks abortion history

The first problem is one the opinion openly admits: Our nation’s history actually does support a right to abortion for much of early pregnancy. The draft acknowledges that at the time of the founding, people made a “distinction between pre- and post-quickening abortions,” and abortions were criminally punishable only if performed after quickening — the first notable movement of the fetus, which often occurs around 15-16 weeks in pregnancy.

[…]

The leaked opinion’s ignorance of the true history of abortion — or worse, its duplicity — suggests that the justices in the conservative majority are not, as they claim in the draft opinion, merely “do[ing] our job, which is to interpret the law.” Instead, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested at oral argument, the opinion’s flawed reasoning creates a “stench” that the court’s reading of the Constitution on abortion is just a “political act.”

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Slate, Kathryn Pogin, 5 May 2022: The “Original Sin” of the Religious Right, subtitled, “It was school segregation, not abortion, that brought Christians together in prayer and a quest for political power.”

Again (as I’ve said), the religious right focused on abortion — previously a nonissue, with Biblical passages cited to *support* the permissibility of it — until they lost the civil rights battle, and had to find a new cause to rally around.

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Tyson’s essay touches on how advances in science and technology — MRI, EEGs, ultrasound — gave religious conservatives ammunition to argue that embryos were fully human and deserving of protection, via images like the one here. But this of course was an emotional, not scientific, appeal.

Meme on Facebook today: two images of embryos. With a bit of dialogue. Queryier: Does anyone believe that these are worthy of civil rights protections? Reply: they will grow up and become worthy citizens. Queryier: the one on the left is an elephant, on the right a pig.

(Alas I don’t have a link. It’s virtually impossible to go back and find something on Fb once it’s scrolled away.)

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Scientifically, this whole debate is about how conservatives desperately need to oversimplify everything into black and white positions, with no nuance whatsoever. They don’t care about circumstances of potential mothers; they don’t care about the non-aborted children once they’re born; they would never implicate the fathers, or society, for any kind of support for those children. (Freedom!) And they don’t care that embryos a few weeks old are in no way fully human, any more than any of the DNA evidence that criminologists collect, with the potential in DNA for a full human being, is fully human. They are for limited government, except where they would impose their religious values on others.

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More tomorrow.

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