The Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that made abortion legal in the United States, will likely prove to be one of the most significant events of 2022.
Historically, the Supreme Court is the most trusted branch of the government. Through most of the 1980s, The Gallup Poll showed that over half of Americans had “a great deal” or “quite a bit of confidence in the Supreme Court.” That number fell to the high 40 to 50 percent range during the 1990s as polarization began to increase in America.
In the aftermath of the Bush-Gore recount, confidence in the courts dropped into the thirties over the past fifteen years.
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A Gallup Poll taken after the decision was leaked but before the opinion’s release shows confidence in the Court has fallen to 25 percent. Other surveys show it lower and that the Court is viewed as more partisan than in the past.
In addition to the damage to the Supreme Court’s reputation, signs suggest the political landscape for 2022 and perhaps beyond has shifted.
I am a “consistent conservative.” I believe the federal government should be as small and unintrusive as possible. Therefore, I don’t always agree with the Republican Party, and abortion is probably the best example.
It’s inconsistent to believe the government can mandate vaccines and then say “my body, my choice,” for abortions. While I chose to get vaccinated and boosted for Covid, I disapproved of the mandates. Likewise, I believe the government should stay out of decisions between women and their doctors.
My father was a doctor, and he did not view a fetus as a life until the time it could be kept alive — even using the most advanced technology outside the mother’s womb. I have adopted that definition and am comfortable with it.
I also believe Roe was poor judicial reasoning. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and I probably didn’t agree on much, but we saw Roe the same.
Shortly before her nomination for the Supreme Court, Ginsburg gave a speech at New York University where she talked about Roe, a decision she called “breathtaking.”
“[Roe] seemed entirely to remove the ball from the legislators’ court.” In 1973, when Roe was issued, abortion law was in a state of change across the nation. As the Supreme Court itself noted, there was a marked trend in state legislatures toward liberalization of abortion statutes, she said. Reflecting on the decision’s impact, Ginsburg added: “Roe, on the other hand, halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue.”
Like many legal scholars, RBG, a defender of abortion rights, didn’t like that the court made the ruling in 1973. While I’m not fond of the result of Dobbs, I can see it as correcting the Burger Court’s overreach. Now, 50 years later, legislators will make abortion laws, as they always should have.
[Roe] seemed entirely to remove the ball from the legislators’ court… Roe, on the other hand, halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue.
The reaction to the decision by some Democrat lawmakers was shameful, considering their condemnation of real and perceived violations of the law by Donald Trump and those involved in the January 6th events at the Capitol.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Tweeted, “American women are having their rights taken by five unelected Justices on the extremist MAGA court. These justices appointed by Republicans and presiding without accountability have stolen the fundamental right to abortion.”
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed up at a protest in front of the Supreme Court, calling “people to get into the streets” and shouting that the decision was “illegitimate.”
Then there’s Congresswoman Maxine Waters. She is the same Congresswoman who previously told people to harass members of the Trump administration in public. After the Dobbs decision, she told reporters: “The hell with the Supreme Court — we will defy them.”
Some of the Democrats making inflammatory remarks about the Supreme Court do so because they are stupid. Others make incendiary comments because they are smart. They remember a famous saying by the current U.S. Ambassador to Japan, former Chicago Mayor, and Obama Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, who famously said: “Never let a crisis go to waste.”
The first eighteen months of the Biden administration were non-stop crises for Democrats. The result was a disaster even when the factions came together and did something, such as passing $1.9 trillion in additional Covid relief funds. Biden shouldered the blame for inflation, regardless of whether it’s fair or not (it’s totally fair — but that’s a different topic).
On Jan. 20, 2022, on the first anniversary of Biden’s inauguration, Republicans held a four-point advantage in the RealClearPolitics generic congressional ballot. The hunt for red November was on.
The Democrat’s base was unenthusiastic. With the midterm elections less than five months away, most polls showed Republicans with larger leads in generic ballot questions than in 1992, 2002, or 2010, which were all tidal wave elections for Republicans.
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Republicans were practically giddy. They shouldn’t have been. The warning shot arrived on May 2nd. Politico released the Dobbs decision that afternoon. That morning, Republicans held a four-point lead in the Real Clear Politics generic congressional ballot. Four days later, it fell to 3.2 points.
It would be nearly two months before the official opinion would be released, plenty of time for Democrats — with a majority in the House and Senate and a compliant occupant in the White House – to pass legislation if there were an actual crisis. They had passed a $1.9 trillion Covid release bill in less time. Their leadership thought it much better not to let this crisis go to waste.
After the Fourth of July weekend, the Republican lead was down to 1.7 points. By the end of July, the Republican advantage was 0.9. The average from August 5 through 12 has remained at 0.1, but the momentum has shifted.
The Constitution created three independent branches of government. Despite Democrats’ cries, the Supreme Court has proven its complete political independence. Republicans were on the verge of an election tsunami before Dobbs.
As we sit in mid-August, winning back, the Senate seems highly unlikely. To be fair, the Senate has as much to do with bad candidates in places like Georgia, Arizona, and sadly Pennsylvania. It’s the tenth anniversary of the 2012 campaigns of Christine “the witch” O’Donnell and Todd Akin — I know, sorry I brought them up — but bad candidates lose.
The House, who knows? Republicans would probably win today, but not with the large majority that was possible before Dobbs.
For the evangelical faction of the Republican Party, overturning Roe was the most important issue. I’m not sure all Republicans would agree to overturn Roe at the cost of giving up control of Congress in 2022. And what if the Dobbs decision hands Democrats a large enough majority to pass laws legalizing the procedure?
It might be the right legal judgment, but it’s starting to seem like it will have the wrong political outcome.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.