A year ago, the Supreme Court’s total reversal of Roe v. Wade sparked a flurry of bold prognostication from thinkers across the ideological spectrum. POLITICO Magazine captured that range of emotion in a survey of some of the country’s smartest and most engaging minds. Whether liberal or conservative, these experts agreed the country was in for big changes. They foresaw even deeper cleavages between red states and blue over abortion rights. They predicted worsening health outcomes for women, especially women of color. They saw a coming erosion of young people’s faith in democratic norms. Some imagined a less politically polarized world now that the issue so responsible for that division had been resolved.
Turns out even the experts could be surprised by the dramatic ways America has changed in the ensuing 12 months.
Conservative justices ‘have not just a couple of years, but a few decades, to complete their project’
By Aziz Huq
Aziz Huq teaches law at the University of Chicago and is the author of The Collapse of Constitutional Remedies.
If you follow the Supreme Court, among the most striking things about the Dobbs opinion is its odor of a court in a hurry: The majority led by Justice Samuel Alito blew past Chief Justice John Roberts’ “compromise” solution of upholding the Mississippi law’s 15-week abortion ban without fully overruling Roe v. Wade. It rejected a strong and very plausible argument that abortion bans were gendered measures that both turned upon, and also reproduced, baleful stereotypes. And it paved the way for almost any regulation of reproductive care, with near contempt for pregnant persons’ health.
In the same term, the court made major changes to the Second Amendment and the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment. Overall, the impression was of an emotional stream that had burst its banks — conservative judges’ anger about the recognition of interests and people they scorn or neglect were flowing over the pages of the law reports.
Yet so far, the last year has not seen a flood of similarly dramatic decisions, except on gun rights. Indeed, what’s striking — at least so far — is how cautiously the court has been moving this year in terms of the cases it has accepted and the decisions it has released. The court’s measured view of the Voting Rights Act, for instance, hints at a new caution.
What to make of this? I don’t think this slower pace bespeaks a lack of ideological fervor on the conservative justices’ part. Another possibility is that it is evidence of their confidence — that they have not just a couple of years, but a few decades, to complete their project. Hence, they feel no rush. They are in it for the long haul.
Read more at POLITICO Magazine