Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Make A Federal Case Of It

Charlie Pierce on what needs to be done to deal with rogue states like Texas:

From the Washington Post:

The Justice Department is exploring “all options” to challenge Texas’s restrictive abortion law, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday, as he vowed to provide support to abortion clinics that are “under attack” in the state and to protect those seeking and providing reproductive health services. The move by the nation’s top law enforcement official comes just days after the Supreme Court refused to block a Texas abortion statute that bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest. The court’s action stands as the most serious threat to Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling establishing a right to abortion, in nearly 50 years.

I know that some people have been frustrated by what appears to be Merrick Garland’s dilatory approach to investigating the former president* and all the rest of the staff from Camp Runamuck. I feel much the same way. But, if the DOJ acts on this, it’s a very encouraging development. If Garland decides to give Greg Abbott in Texas a little taste of what Eisenhower gave Orval Faubus in 1957, or what the Kennedy brothers gave Ross Barnett in 1962, that’s all to the good. It’s past time that the “federal” part of federalism gets exercised again. The central government has a duty, based in the ninth and 14th amendments, to safeguard the civil liberties of its citizens against any threat to them, including those posed by state governments and state governors. As Dolores Barclay told history.com:

Eisenhower was boxed into a corner and reached a point where he had to show the power of the federal government and chop off continued insurrection of southern segregationists. His decision was decidedly political—to maintain federal power—and to ensure that Brown was enforced.

It’s time to flex that power again. Even the shadow-docket card trick from the Supreme Court allows that, theoretically anyway, the right to privacy and the right to terminate a pregnancy that is derived from it both remain intact. The ridiculously gerrymandered statehouses and the fanatical ideologues in the governor’s offices have left the administration, and the central government, no choice but to defend that right against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The rallying cry of the anti-freedom movements of the 1960’s was “states rights,” meaning that Alabama didn’t need to listen to the feds when it came to civil rights (but then came begging when a hurricane or a tornado wiped out a city or a trailer park).

What happens in Texas doesn’t just stay in Texas.  Women seeking reproductive health care — which goes way beyond the abortion issue — will now have to travel to other states, putting the burden on them to deal with them as well as their own citizens.  I sincerely doubt that the clinics in New Mexico or Colorado or wherever they go will turn them away simply because they come from a state run by an idiot, but the strain on their own resources is an undue burden.

There is a delicate balance between state and federal government.  As President Josiah Bartlet once noted, there are times when we are one country and times when we are fifty states.  This is a time when we need to be just the one.

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