The Worst of Times

Americans love to celebrate the events and people responsible for our nation’s 248 year old experiment in government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”  Premiere among national holidays is July 4, Independence Day, the day the experiment left the laboratory. Some, such as Juneteenth National Independence Day (June 19), laud the addition of previously excluded populations from the full benefit of the American experience.  Though I would argue it is way past time for Congress to designate August 18 a national holiday, the day in 1919 when Vice-President Thomas Marshall signed the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.  On Labor Day, we acknowledge the work ethic of those who built and maintain the physical and organizational infrastructure that underpins the nation’s economic success.  Others, more observances than celebrations, honor the men and women who fought and died to preserve the principles and institutions that ensure these benefits for future generations.  These holidays represent the best of times, when Americans moved ever closer to the ideal of a “more perfect union.”

Unfortunately, many of these advances are responses to equally sad days in American history.  And as the memory of these events fade in the national consciousness, perhaps it is time for Congress to designate days of remembrance and reflection to remind each of us why so many of our rights and benefits were not automatic.  Let me suggest just a few.

August 20, 1619.  Kidnapped Angolans first arrive in the British colony of Virginia, the beginning of almost 250 years of slavery in North America.

December 6, 1830.  President Andrew Jackson, in a address to Congress promotes removal of Native Americans from their homelands “to relieve Mississippi and Alabama of Indian occupancy and enable those states to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power.”

December 29, 1890.  The Wounded Knee Massacre during which American soldiers killed more than 300 members of the Lakota nation.

May 31, 1921.  Known as the Black Wall Street Massacre, a two-day rampage by white supremacists in Tulsa, Oklahoma resulting in the destruction of black-owned businesses and residences and approximately 300 deaths.

February 20, 1939.  Twenty thousand Americans attend a Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden sponsored by the the German American Bund, a pro-Hitler organization.

Each of these events ran counter to the promise embodied in the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In this context, I suggest it is time to add one more day of remembrance and reflection–June 24, 2022, the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  For the first time in American history, the Supreme Court repealed a right previously granted by the Court.  Furthermore, the 6-3 majority, several of whom swore before the U.S. Senate during their confirmation hearings that Roe v. Wade was settled law, overruled every lower court ruling which upheld Roe.

U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves, who originally heard the case, wrote Mississippi has “…no legitimate state interest strong enough, prior to viability, to justify a ban on abortions.”  On behalf of the Fifth District Court of Appeals, following a 3-0 decision to uphold Roe, Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote:

In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability. States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions.

Yet, when appealed to the Supreme Court, Justices John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett might as well have exchanged their robes for Melania Trump’s raincoat with the words, “I really don’t care, do you?”  They did not care that every lower court had abided by a deference to legal precedence that they had publicly sworn to honor. They did not care that there was no dissension among lower court judges which is usually required to trigger Supreme Court consideration.   Nor did they care that the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution reads:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Which begs the question of these supposed originalists, where is the specific language in the Constitution which denies women the right to make decisions about their reproductive health without interference from the government?

And most importantly, they did not care the reasoning behind their decision, embodied in Alito’s majority opinion and especially in Thomas’ concurring opinion, opened a Pandora’s box that potentially nullifies legal precedence and settled law in every previously decided case. Thomas specifically pointed to past decisions related to the right to contraception (Griswold v. Connecticut), bans on homosexual activity (Lawrence v. Texas) and gay marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges).

…in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is “demonstrably erroneous,”

Notably, Thomas left out Loving v. Virginia, without which he could possibly have been prosecuted and jailed for having married his white, insurrectionist wife, ironically, named (drum roll) Virginia.

June 24, 2022 is a truly sad day for America which needs to be observed annually.

For what it’s worth.

One thought on “The Worst of Times

  1. I agree, Dr. ESP.
    I can only hope that our citizens remember the rights we’ve lost and prevent us losing any more at the polls.

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