The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson is a victory for the rule of law.
I’m not talking so much about the opinion itself. I’m talking about the Supreme Court majority’s demonstration that it will do what it thinks is right despite unprecedented pressure from the media, from Democrats in Congress, from “activist” groups and even from angry mobs and attempted assassins who show up at their homes.
This is a big deal. When, as reported by Jan Crawford, a coordinated bullying campaign flipped Chief Justice John Roberts’ position in NFIB v. Sebelius, the ObamaCare case from 2012, many observers, especially on the right, lost faith in the court’s independence. And the perception that the court could be bullied, naturally, was a guarantee that people would try bullying it again.
And they did, in spades. Activist groups sent mobs to protest at the homes of justices expected to vote to overturn Roe, even though that sort of pressure on federal judges is a crime. (Unsurprisingly, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice appears to have done nothing.) In an unprecedented breach of confidentiality, an insider at the court — we still don’t know who, for some reason — leaked a draft opinion that became a rallying point for Democrats and the left.
Extremist rhetoric — of the sort that’s called “hate” when it comes from the right and “passion for justice” when it comes from the left — raised the temperature to the point where a would-be assassin actually showed up at Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house with a Glock, two magazines and pepper spray. He’s now awaiting trial. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) even threatened Kavanaugh and other conservative justices that they would “pay the price” for overturning Roe.
This deadly threat to a sitting Supreme Court justice drew an extremely muted reaction from pundits and Democratic politicians, though an politically motivated assassination to change a judicial opinion would be enormously destabilizing and destructive. On social media, people were openly wishing for the deaths of conservative justices. But the same people who decried the Jan, 6 protests — where only an unarmed protester was the victim of deadly violence — seemed unfazed by this.
Now leftists are promising a “Night of Rage” in response to Roe being overturned. No doubt, as with the riots of 2020, we’ll be told that any riots that happen are “mostly peaceful” and just “the voice of the unheard.”
At least, as one Internet wag put it, the gasoline for their Molotov cocktails will be much more expensive this time around, thanks to the Biden administration’s energy policies. But the way this case has been handled by the political class says bad things about the political class — and about the state of our nation.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.