Wednesday, December 1, 2021

 -Chris Cillizza, Both Sides virtuoso

Will the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade? Or will it just set fire to the consitutional right to an abortion, leaving behind a smoking Roe facade? These are the thrilling possibilities we can look forward to after Wednesday’s arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

  • All six conservative justices seemed prepared eager downright horny to uphold an unconstitutional Mississippi abortion law, and most seemed delighted about the opportunity to eliminate the right to an abortion in the process. The law in question bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, in violation of the Court’s 1992 holding that “a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.” A fetus isn’t viable (able to live outside the womb) until around 24 weeks.
  • A majority of the Court seemed very likely to overrule that viability precedent, at the very least, with even Chief Justice John Roberts questioning why 15 weeks wasn’t enough time to decide to get an abortion. The other major holding in Planned Parenthood v. Casey was that states can’t impose an “undue burden” on the ability to seek an abortion, and at least four conservatives seemed psyched to overrule that, too.
  • Justice Amy Coney Barrett was less explicit about her views on the undue burden standard, but did make clear that she sees forced pregnancy as no big deal. In one of the hearing’s darkest moments, Barrett asked why “safe haven” laws, which allow parents to immediately give up unwanted infants for adoption, didn’t resolve the “burdens of parenting” emphasized in both Casey and Roe. In other words, what’s the problem with states banning abortion if women can just sail through nine months of pregnancy, enjoy the safe, painless, inexpensive miracle of childbirth, and then give the kid away?

Between the handmaid tone of Barrett’s questioning and the predatory-fratboy tone of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s, Roe is in deep shit.

  • Three years ago, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) cast the deciding vote to confirm Kavanuagh because he told her he considered Roe to be “settled law.” Earlier today, Kavanaugh rattled off a list of cases to argue that overturning precedent can be a grand ol’ time, suggested that the Court can stay neutral on abortion by once again leaving it up to the states, and ominously noted that “you have to pick” between accommodating the interests of the pregnant person who wants an abortion or the fetus.
  • The Court doesn’t have to explicitly overturn Roe in order to free up red states to swiftly implement new abortion bans, and thanks to a gang of anti-abortion justices appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote and confirmed by a broken Senate, we’re now more likely than not to see some version of that outcome. “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it’s possible,” Justice Sonya Sotomayor asked, forgetting that Justice Stephen Breyer has saved the Court’s reputation by not retiring. 

Tens of millions of Americans are poised to lose a fundamental right because a handful of berobed political operatives have the power and inclination to impose minority rule. If Democrats want to use that nightmare to fire up the base for the midterms, they’d better start by abolishing the filibuster and expanding the Court, or at least exhaust every option available to them to protect people.

This week on Keep It, Ira, Louis, and guest host Zach Stafford discuss Sondheim’s legacy, Virgil Abloh, the Grammys, the new Jussie Smollet trial, and share Keep It’s First Annual Holiday Gift Guide. Plus, Porsha Williams joins to talk about her time on Real Housewives and her new memoir Pursuit of Porsha. New episodes drop every Wednesday. Listen and follow wherever you get your podcasts.

Donald Trump tested positive for coronavirus three days before his first debate with Joe Biden, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows revealed in his new book. As many suspected ever since Kayleigh McEneighgighieghy refused to answer questions about the timeline of Trump’s test results, Trump knowingly exposed his 77-year-old opponent to a deadly virus—along with the Gold Star families he met with the day after his positive test (whom he later implied gave him COVID), everyone else at the debate, Secret Service agents, reporters, and his own staff. The legacy of Trump’s bioweapon era is alive and well in the present-day GOP: A group of Senate Republicans have threatened to hold up an urgent government-funding bill over Biden’s vaccine mandates. “Make it easier for us to spread disease for political gain, or the government shuts down this weekend.” That’s who “post-Trump” Republicans are, and Democrats should state it plainly.

The first Omicron-variant case in the U.S. has been confirmed in California, ushering in a new phase of the pandemic, in some respect, maybe. Looking forward to that data in a couple of weeks! The San Francisco patient recently returned from South Africa, was fully vaccinated (but hadn’t received a booster shot), and had mild symptoms that were improving. Meanwhile, right-wing leaders and judges are busily facilitating the spread of coronavirus in all its forms. A Trump-appointed federal judge has issued an injunction to block President Biden’s vaccine mandate for health-care workers from taking effect next week, expanding a separate order issued on Monday. When you glance at hospitalization statistics, it’s hard to see the hampering of vaccination efforts as anything but murderous: Yale New Haven Hospital announced that about 90 percent of COVID-19 patients admitted amid a recent uptick in cases have been unvaccinated. 

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Stacey Abrams has announced she’s running for governor of Georgia. (Flame emoji; flame emoji)

Georgia Democrats flipped at least seven local races across the state on Tuesday.

Chinese scientists have figured out how to create an eco-friendly plastic out of, um, salmon sperm. 

Come for the inspiring 100-year-old swimming champion, stay for the word “pool-ygamous.”

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