Reversing the Supreme Court would be the ‘culmination’ of 50 years of the ‘religious right’s anti-abortion struggle’

In the United States, all eyes are on the Supreme Court. The foundation has been at the center of a violent political, legal and social debate since the site’s publication, Monday, May 2 Politico, with a draft ruling from America’s highest judicial institution that could overturn the Roe v. Wade in 1973, which protects the right of an American woman to terminate her pregnancy. If adopted as is, this provision would set the United States back fifty years, to the time when every state was free to authorize, or prohibit, the voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion).

This document, written in February and which could be the subject of negotiations until June 30, considers the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, Kan ‘No basis from the start’ And that nothing in the constitution protects the right to abortion.

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as mentioned Simon Griffith, A lecturer at the University of Lille and a historian specializing in the history of law and justice in the United States, it would be the culmination of a fight by the American religious right that had never waned in fifty years in a country where Abortion is a structural political indicator.

The abortion debate has not stopped dividing in the United States despite the 1973 Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion. How do we explain it?

It must be remembered that the United States clearly stands out from other Western democracies on the subject of abortion. In most countries, as in France, opposition to abortion still exists, but has become marginal after legalization. In the United States, this has never been the case. On the contrary, after the establishment of this right, abortion became a structural political sign in the country. The decision the Supreme Court is about to pass is the culmination of the religious right’s struggle against abortion that has not waned for fifty years.

Remember that the right to abortion in the United States was obtained by a decision of the Supreme Court and not through a traditional political and democratic process. Even if it was returned by a large majority of seven votes to two, it did not achieve absolute consensus and boycotted, at the time, the political process that was underway. New York state made abortion legal in 1970 with Republican support. Oregon did the same through a referendum. A court decision in 1973, which prevented states from banning abortion before the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, halted this political dynamic. giant step ” Professional life » [« pro-vie », anti-IVG] It was born as a reaction with the ultimate goal of repealing these case law. This question was the decisive factor in the politicization of an entire religious section of society.

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Republican politicians quickly realized the power of this anti-abortion argument to win votes, making the topic a real political issue. Evangelicals now account for a quarter of the electorate and are the majority in some parts of the South and Midwest, such as Indiana. Most of them are white Christians, but they also have affiliations in some African American churches, and increasingly in the Catholic Church, which is highly influential among Hispanics. Taking a stand against abortion can win not only many voters but also decisive votes among minorities.

This is how Republicans consolidated their base in the southern states of the country, which were Democratic strongholds until the 1960s. For his 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan traveled extensively to these southern states where he demonstrated his faith and opposition to abortion. This right can only be removed by decision of the Supreme Court, from Reagan’s election, and thus opposition to abortion becomes the defining criterion for Republicans when it comes to choosing a federal judge.

What role did Donald Trump play in what could be the culmination of the demands of the “pro-life” movement?

Donald Trump has been the instrument of this long-term strategy of the religious right. In the summer of 2015, when he launched his campaign, he was very marginal within the Republican Party and needed the support of the evangelical right. The latter watches him from afar, a TV guy, a former casino owner, divorced twice, moreover.

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He won their support by focusing his rhetoric on law and order, demonstrating his unrestrained Islamophobia, and above all, playing the anti-abortion card by promising to appoint dissenting justices to the Supreme Court. valley. And he agreed to follow the recommendations of the Federal Assembly, a very conservative pressure group that makes lists of judges who have had a legal ideology according to which the 1973 ruling is an interpretation of the Constitution out of place.

The three justices appointed by Donald Trump during his tenure agree with this. At the same time, we see that Democrats have invested little in the appointments strategy within the nation’s highest court. Today, we’re taking the full measure of this legacy: The Supreme Court is primarily governed by the conservative right and will remain so for many years to come.

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What is the “legal ideology” of the majority of Supreme Court justices and does it include other reflections of jurisprudence?

A fundamental debate has built up American democracy for at least a century: How should new rights be obtained? Through the Supreme Court or through political action? This question involves the role of the Supreme Court, and on this issue two views in the United States are at odds. There is the so-called “judicial activism”, which recalls above all the time when the Court was presided over by Earl Warren, between 1953 and 1969. The “Warren Court”, which markedly abolished segregation, used many major cases in the 1950s and beyond. The 1960s, thanks to its resolutions, made gradual progress at a time when many reforms at the level of the US Congress were blocked.

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An opposition judicial ideology was born in the 1970s: “judicial humility”, embodied especially in the so-called “original” or “textual” current. Justices of this current – many of whom are now on the Supreme Court – advocate a very literal interpretation of the Constitution. For them, everything that is not written in the text does not exist.

However, many rights granted over the past 60 years, notably by the Warren Court, are at times based on fragile interpretations of the Constitution and can thus be called into question by justices who advocate a literal reading. This is the case for the “right to privacy,” which the Supreme Court established in 1965 in its decision on the right to contraception. It is the existence of this right that also underlies the 1973 decision on abortion, or even rights granted to gay people, such as the right to marry for all. This right to privacy, which became crucial, was not enshrined as it is in the Constitution, it stemmed from the interpretation of the basic text by one of the judges at the time.

The risk is uncertain: The Supreme Court has not issued its decision in the Roe v. Wade and Judge Alito [l’auteur du texte qui a fuité dans la presse] They insisted on the special nature of the abortion question, noting that such a reversal of case law would not be conceivable for other rights.

If the court upheld this decision and overturned the Roe v. Wade, only the federal abortion law guarantees this to every woman in the country. Is it possible?

no. The Democrats do not have a majority in the Senate and therefore cannot pass an abortion law. However, they will provide a text, essentially to mobilize their base six months before the midterm elections. We’re betting that abortion will be a major topic in the November elections.

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