Labor History and the Supreme Court Abortion Ruling
I would like to suggest a connection between labor history and the recent Supreme Court decision concerning abortion rights; this being a labor blog. Labor history has a long record of vigilante violence and authoritarian misconduct going back into the 19th century. Throughout labor history mob violence directed at strikers and picketers seldom occurred as spontaneous response to the events of a strike. Corporate interests with the economic power to assert authority took repeated steps to organize and arm vigilante forces to break strikes, and their recruits recognized their recruiters had the political power to protect them from criminal prosecution. Corporate officials acted with confidence and impunity to assert the authoritarian power of a police state while avoiding any compromise that democracy might generate.
For at least fifty years abortion opponents have demanded, without a hint of compromise, that a fertilized egg at the time of conception will be the same thing as an eight or nine month fetus about to be born. Such a view can only prevail in a police state or a country like the United States with a paralyzed Senate, a “we do as we please” majority on a Supreme Court and a Republican Party determined to corrupt free elections.
It was true in 1973 as it is true in 2022 that the Constitution has nothing to say about abortion, but the Senate and the Congress, then as now, can be blocked and paralyzed by minority rule. The few who have bothered to read the Roe v. Wade opinion know that Justice Blackmun wrote a long historical discussion of the pros and cons of abortion before coming to a compromise ruling in between the extremes of fanatics. Justice Blackmun did what democracy should be able to do, and the Senate and the American Constitution cannot do: compromise. The U.S. Constitution is obsolete and desperately needs to be amended or replaced. The current episode should make clear it has defects capable of bringing down constitutional government, not just majority rule.
On January 6, 2021, Trump supplied the authority for his base to attack the capital and extensive video footage establishes they acted with confidence and impunity as a violent band of hooligans expecting to be protected by Trump as part of their devotion to his authoritarian ways. The Supreme Court intends and expects their rulings on guns and military assault weapons, such as the recent move against gun safety in New York, will be used by armed vigilantes as an aid to enforce their decision on abortion, and other decisions to come, the same as labor history records.
The Supreme Court majority in the 1857 Dred Scott decision expected to resolve the polarized politics of slavery, but all they did was debase themselves, the Court and push the country to a violent civil war. Now, another Court majority expects to end the abortion fight with an authoritarian political ruling. There is a difference though. Then Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney discussed their upcoming ruling with President James Buchanan. They were both foolish enough to believe the Supreme Court had the prestige to resolve what political compromise could not do.
Not now. Now they have eliminated the Roe v. Wage compromise of 1973 and made the political decision to encourage and promote civil warfare as leverage to get their way. In 2022, these police state justices know exactly what they’re doing, they just don’t care.