We live in a partisan age, and our news habits can reinforce our own perspectives. Consider this an effort to broaden our collective outlook with essays beyond the range of our typical selections.
FROM THE LEFT
From “Justice Alito’s Draft Ruling on Abortion Shows the Need to Curb Minority Rule,” by John Cassidy in The New Yorker.
The context, from the author: If the justices who have made the Supreme Court an agent of conservative counter-revolution overturn Roe v. Wade, there is no reason to believe that they will stop there.
The excerpt: In the current environment, the real danger is too little majority rule rather than too much of it. With a deadlocked Congress, an electoral system that favors states with small populations, a major political party that is still dominated by a politician who tried to stage a coup, and an unrepresentative high court that is now packed with judges determined to roll back landmark American jurisprudence, the danger of permanent minority rule is looming ever larger.
The context, from the author: The draft decision leaves abortion in the hands of “the people’s elected representatives.” But which ones?
The excerpt: In the past, justices urging Roe’s reversal have called on the court to return this question to the states, allowing each state legislature to determine the legality of abortion. This language is conspicuously absent from (Justice Samuel) Alito’s draft, which substitutes federalism with hazier rhetoric that seems designed to boost abortion foes’ next goal: persuading Congress to pass a federal law restricting or banning abortion in all 50 states.
The context, from the author: A picture of a 12-week fetus is a Rorschach test. Some people say that such an image doesn’t trouble them, that the fetus suggests the possibility of a developed baby but is far too removed from one to give them pause. I envy them. When I see that image, I have the opposite reaction. ... This is not an argument anyone is going to win. The loudest advocates on both sides are terrible representatives for their cause.
The excerpt: We will never know how many women had abortions via this (Lysol) method, or how many died because of it. Why was Lysol, with its strong, unpleasant smell and its corrosive effect on skin, so often used? Because its early formulation contained cresol, a phenol compound that induced abortion; because it was easily available, a household product that aroused no suspicion when women bought it; and because for more than three decades, Lysol advertised the product as an effective form of birth control, advising women to douche with it in diluted form after sex, thus powerfully linking the product to the notion of family planning.
FROM THE RIGHT
From “Democrats Want a Referendum on Abortion. Republicans Shouldn’t Give Them One,” by Noah Rothman in Commentary.
The context, from the author: The left and its cat’s paws in the press will do their utmost to transform the 2022 midterm cycle into a referendum on abortion rights. Republicans would be foolish to let them get away with it.
The excerpt: While it may prove difficult, Republican candidates for federal office should avoid the temptation to expound on a matter that conservative legal doctrine maintains is the exclusive province of the states. Congress, the right’s most compelling rationale maintains, has no jurisdiction over abortion rights. Conservatives of principle can and should promote the values that produced this momentous event, but they should not play into national Democrats’ efforts to make this an issue for the federal legislature. If the Supreme Court does remand the matter back to the states, Republican candidates should respect and defer to that decision.
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From “What the Leaked Abortion Opinion Gets Wrong About Unenumerated Rights,” by Damon Root in Reason.
The context, from the author: The Constitution protects many more rights than it mentions.
The excerpt: The constitutional right at issue in (the current abortion case) Dobbs only fails the “deeply rooted” in history and tradition test (a test wholly invented by the Supreme Court, by the way) when the court defines the right narrowly. But when the right is defined broadly — defined as a subset of the venerable and longstanding right of bodily integrity, in other words — then the right passes the test. I am reminded of the words of the political theorist Stephen Macedo, who, while debating the late Robert Bork in 1986, offered this memorable description of the American constitutional system: “When conservatives like Bork treat rights as islands surrounded by a sea of government powers, they precisely reverse the view of the founders, as enshrined in the Constitution, wherein government powers are limited and specified and rendered as islands surrounded by a sea of individual rights.”
From “On Abortion, the System Is Finally Working as It Should,” by David Harsanyi in The National Review.
The context, from the author: Now the abortion debate moves into the political realm, where it should have been all along.
The excerpt: Democracy’s purported defenders are not only conspicuously perturbed by the idea of handing the abortion issue to voters, they also, incomprehensibly, argue that the court should mandate abortion by fiat because of the ruling’s alleged popularity among voters. Liberals can grouse all they like about the eroding trust in the court among their constituents. SCOTUS’s job is to faithfully uphold the Constitution, not mollify voters or bow to the vagaries of political pressure.