Lawless Dobbs ruling seeks to dehumanize Americans & void basic rights protections
On the evening of Monday, May 2, 2022, Politico reported that a draft Supreme Court majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, had been leaked. It was shocking enough to read the news that a majority of justices on the Court were intent on removing a Constitutional right recognized for 50 years. It quickly became apparent that the draft opinion was also written in a way that would effectively void the legal foundation for many other Constitutionally protected civil liberties.
Justice Alito included in his draft opinion the flagrantly false assertion that rights not enumerated do not exist and cannot be protected. The Ninth Amendment explicitly prohibits him from holding or asserting that view. This contradiction deserves unending, unwavering, focused attention. Samuel Alito asserts that he has authorization, from whom he never says, to selectively ignore or nullify specific text explicitly written into the Constitution.
On Friday, June 24, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its ruling in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
The ruling upheld the unconstitutionally crafted law it was supposed to judge and then went further to overturn Roe v. Wade and authorize states to issue bans on abortion procedures.
We learned that much of the draft opinion had remained intact, despite its being a shocking example of jurisprudential amateurism, laced with hate-based vitriol and a bizarre focus on dehumanizing American citizens.
We also experienced the shock of a majority of justices on the Court being willing to grant states the power to selectively strip American citizens of full legal personhood, based on the biases of those making the laws.
Under the Dobbs majority opinion, states can now proceed to ban abortion, force women to carry unwanted pregnancies, even in cases of rape or incest, voiding women’s right to control their own bodies.
The Dobbs majority opinion is structured around the single most poisonous idea that can be injected into any society: the idea that a self-selected few, based only on their own prejudices and determinations can deny to others full legal personhood and full and equal protection of the laws. That this heinous idea is the core of the Dobbs opinion is even more shocking, given that the Constitution requires that:
no authority impose “involuntary servitude” on any person (13th Amendment);
“nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (14th Amendment).
Alito’s writing displays a near venomous disregard for these guarantees. And FOUR other justices of the Supreme Court, all sworn to uphold those guarantees, joined him in this act of judicial violence against women and against the Constitution of the United States. These five justices did this, even though it would reveal they had lied under oath when testifying during Senate hearings held to determine their fitness for the Court. This deserves some attention:
Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney-Barrett, all directly lied or gave carefully crafted deliberately misleading testimony to the United States Senate, in order to secure their confirmations to the Court.
Clearly, the understood the Senate hearings were a Constitutional process required to assess their fitness to serve on the nation’s highest court.
Federal law makes it a crime to lie under oath or to give testimony specifically crafted to mislead or create a contrary to fact impression.
Federal law also makes it a specific additional crime to obtain public office by criminal means.
These five individuals knowingly gave false or misleading testimony under oath, in order to take office illegitimately, in order to use their office in a way that they understood would be seen as illegitimate.
This history creates a pattern and a timeline: the decision to lie opens a timeline during which a plot to abuse office for illegal purposes plays out.
The Dobbs ruling is about a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, in that it now activates pending prohibitions and invites others, and will directly affect tens of millions of women’s legal status and personal freedom. But it is also about something else: a far broader assault on the very idea of the primacy of human rights.
The Bill of Rights was created, because without it, there could be no guarantee a new authoritarian regime would not arise; the Constitution needed to recognize that the basic rights of individual human beings were paramount and had legal primacy over the whims of those who hold positions of power.
This is why:
The 1st Amendment bars the state from controlling speech or religious faith and practice, as well as the activities of the free and independent press;
The 1st Amendment also bars the state from banning protest or abridging the right of the people “to petition the government for a redress of grievances”;
The 2nd Amendment was crafted to help the young republic defend itself against a potential invasion by foreign imperialist forces;
The 3rd Amendment prohibited the installation of military personnel in the homes of private citizens;
The 4th Amendment bars the government from “unreasonable searches and seizures” and guarantees “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects…”
Let’s look at that one for a moment:
Women in the United States have a guaranteed right “to be secure in their persons”.
The Dobbs ruling is not possible unless the 4th Amendment is voided and the security of one’s person is considered subordinate to the whims of the state.
The Dobbs majority justices clearly assert they have authority to make this finding, even without saying so.
They demonstrate by their actions an overt decision to ignore and contravene the letter of the law.
The primacy of human rights over state power is also why:
The 5th Amendment grants all people a right against self-incrimination (totalitarian regimes use force to compel false confessions, a situation in which justice and liberty are functionally impossible);
The 5th Amendment also guarantees a right against being “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” (a right echoed in the 14th Amendment);
The 6th Amendment outlines elements of “due process”, including the right to compel witnesses in one’s own favor, before the state can take life, liberty or property.
Let’s consider this incredible fact:
Alito and the Dobbs majority reject the idea that the 14th Amendment’s due process clause protects a woman against having her bodily autonomy usurped by the state.
This right is enunciated in both the 5th and 14th Amendments; it is clearly echoed in the language and intent of the 1st, 4th, and 13th Amendments.
The 3rd, 6th, and 8th clearly demonstrate an intent to further shield the individual from breaches of this right to bodily autonomy.
Continuing with the Bill of Rights:
The 7th Amendment provides for a trial by jury, so that the prosecutorial actions of the state are supervised by citizens;
The 8th Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments”;
The 9th Amendment specifies that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people“ (Alito lies about this text, so he can ignore its implications);
The 10th Amendment reserves to the states, and ultimately to the people, powers not specifically authorized in writing.
Every one of the ten Constitutional amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights was crafted to operationalize the principle that human rights have primacy over the whims of the powerful. The Dobbs majority ignores this fact, lies about each of the above specific textual details of the Constitution, and gathers to themselves on the basis of no lawful authority, the power to deny full legal personhood to women.
The Dobbs majority also twist the 10th Amendment in precisely the same way enslavers did before the Civil War. The 10th Amendment does not grant the several states unfettered authority to do whatever they wish; it reserves the ultimate authority to the people, in line with all other constraints on state power, then denies to public authorities any power not explicitly written in Constitutionally compliant law.
Rights have primacy over powers. The Court’s legitimacy rests entirely in honoring that standard—in every case, every time. The current Supreme Court, dominated by ideological extremists whose judicial actions appear to show a fundamental opposition to defending the vulnerable and curtailing arbitrary and corrupt power, has thrown away that legitimacy.
Many who believe that protecting life requires banning abortion may accept all of the above abuses as worthy of the cause they see as paramount. But the same justices who signed onto Alito’s Dobbs opinion have demonstrated that they are unwilling to protect life; they are not “pro-life” in any demonstrable sense.
With the mass slaughter of American children by firearm getting worse, with more than one mass shooting per day and firearms now the leading cause of death among American children and teenagers, with tens of thousands of Americans killed by guns every year, these same justices took extraordinary action—just one day before their supposedly “pro-life” ruling—to make it far more likely the wave of mass murder will get worse.
They have invented rights for arms traffickers, for dangerous sociopaths intent on mass murder, and even for the weapons themselves, rights that do not appear anywhere in the Constitution or in any Constitutionally founded judicial precedent. Then they deny even the right to safety and to life itself to living human beings.
For those who believe deeply in the Christian faith, the Dobbs majority justices take a Pontius Pilate approach: they wash their hands of responsibility to protect innocent life or to achieve justice through their use of office. Though these same justices appear intent on creating special rights to honor and advance a particular anti-democracy strain of Christian religious organizing, they are dismantling the operative legal protections that ensure freedom of religion is really freedom of religion.
If you are a libertarian—someone who believes that liberty should win over arbitrary power—the Roberts Court is opposed to everything you stand for.
Yes, there are moments when rulings that favor the impunity of polluters—who knowingly destroy ecosystems and watersheds, poison millions or destabilize the climate system—are described by pro-business ideologues as somehow honoring freedom from government interference.
But those rulings do not defend human freedom; they defend impunity and expand the space for systematized injustice.
We need to learn, as a nation, that there is consistency between the Roberts Court’s efforts to strip women of full legal personhood, allow states to interfere with personal medical choices, promote the ever proliferating sale of weapons designed for the killing of human beings, and to protect polluters and the influence of corrupt donor networks over American politics. All of this is consistent.
It revolves not around what people hope it does—the Constitution, defense of life, or liberty over regulation. It revolves around the most poisonous idea that can be injected into any society—the idea that a self-selected few, based only on their own prejudices and determinations can deny to others full legal personhood and full and equal protection of the laws.
The Dobbs majority justices consistently act to distance Americans from the protections provided them by the Bill of Rights and other amendments to the Constitution which advanced human rights.
Their support for “gun rights” is really a deactivation of every American’s personal political sovereignty. By their reckoning, no one has a right to say no to guns, not even through the most careful, organized, and proper use of the levers of civic process in our democracy. You do not have a right to be free from combat in your community.
Read the Bill of Rights carefully. It clearly outlines both a civic space free from violence and a private space free from tyrannical interference by the state. The Dobbs justices favor the endless proliferation of firearms, because they do not believe you have a right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.
Five of the nine justices, who are all among the six who agreed that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, in spite of all of the above, were named to the Court by presidents who entered the Oval Office after losing the popular vote.
That happened, because at the founding of the republic, people who enslaved other human beings demanded the Electoral College be shaped in such a way to allow an abusive minority to control the lives and neutralize the votes of everyone else, even if the vast majority believed they were morally, legally, and in every sense, wrong.
Enslavers wanted to make sure human freedom, rights, and decency, could not win out over their insistence on imposing terror and tyranny with impunity, and they threatened to destabilize the Union if they didn’t get their way.
Then, when the life of democracy began to move the country away from allowing the enslavement of human beings, they engineered the Fugitive Slave Act—which claimed to allow punishment of any free person helping another human being resist, escape, or avoid enslavement, projecting the tyrannical will of enslavers across all free states and against all free people.
Alito, Roberts, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney-Barrett are on the Court, because people who enslaved and tortured other human beings wanted American democracy to fail in the face of tyrants.
The sixth member of the Dobbs majority, Clarence Thomas, is married to a woman who urged the Trump White House to stage an overthrow of the United States Constitution and to install Trump as an unelected autocrat.
We have since learned that at least one individual with whom she was in close communication, Trump’s last White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, may be have had foreknowledge of an actual criminal conspiracy involving Trump to overthrow the Constitution by violent force.
When a case involving her text messages came before the Court, he refused to recuse himself and cast the lone vote to shield her from scrutiny, attempting to grant a special privacy right to Donald Trump that no other President and no other person has ever had.
This is the man who not only acted to deny full legal personhood to women in the United States, with no legal authority to do so, but who also argues that all private rights based on Constitutional protections should be reversed—except, apparently, those affecting him and his family and their friends.
It is an illegitimate and illegal use of judicial authority, with or without a judicial code of ethics, to issue rulings intended to provide special personal benefits to yourself, your family, or your friends or political allies.
In today’s West Virginia v. EPA ruling, the Dobbs majority finds that polluters have rights which those harmed by their pollution do not. This is logically, morally, and legally incoherent. The ruling is a clear reflection of the core logic of the Dobbs ruling, which denies full legal personhood and right to life and liberty to women in the United States.
The last week of Supreme Court rulings has delivered an existential shock to the American system of Constitutional democracy. Fundamental rights protections are being dismantled in rulings that directly conflict with the language of the Constitution and with each other. Rarely, if ever, has there been a series of rulings, issued in rapid succession, all stripping Americans of basic human rights.
This week we learned that Donald Trump, who named three of these justices to the Court, knowingly supported, and sought to lead, a violent coup attempt against the Constitution of the United States, by armed insurrectionists. The first hint of this behavior negated his eligibility to hold public office in the United States, under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
This is an incredibly dangerous time for the American democratic republic and its people. Democracy Witness will be reporting in further detail on the implications of recent Supreme Court decisions and on the effort to restore the rule of law, along with real protection of all human rights for all people.