Key Point: “The person most responsible for what might be the greatest assault on individual freedom since the mid-20th century is Donald Trump, who appointed fully one-third of the justices on the Supreme Court, hard-core right-wing ideologues who overturned Roe just as he promised they would.”
The Atlantic: Trump Is the Reason Women Can’t Get Abortions
[Adam Serwer, 9/20/23]
- Aiming to extend their command over people’s lives into states that Republicans do not control, conservative judges have revived archaic federal laws seeking to ban the delivery of abortion medication all over the country. Every day, the conservative legal movement seeks to discover new ways to extend state domination over people’s private lives in order to prevent women from deciding for themselves whether to have a child.
- Alito, despite drawing a road map for repealing the 20th century, is not the man primarily responsible for these laws or the other attempts to impose right-wing morality on Americans who do not share conservative principles or premises. The person most responsible for what might be the greatest assault on individual freedom since the mid-20th century is Donald Trump, who appointed fully one-third of the justices on the Supreme Court, hard-core right-wing ideologues who overturned Roe just as he promised they would.
- Trump’s remarks provoked headlines that suggested—with caveats and debunkings coming only lower down—that he was somehow moderating on the issue of abortion. Some articles left out the crucial fact that DeSantis’s six-week ban was only possible because of Trump himself. The justices he chose reversed decades of legal precedents that had established standards—few restrictions before the third trimester, few exceptions after—that were roughly consistent with public opinion, more so than those that followed Roe’s demise.
- During the 2022 midterms, Trump urged Republicans to “talk differently” about abortion. Not govern differently, but talk differently. That is all he is doing here: If Trump now wants to give the impression that he opposes abortion bans, it is because he senses that in a world where such bans are no longer hypothetical but a threat to fundamental civil liberties, this is a way to earn positive headlines. But he has an actual record to be judged on. This is not 2016, when a Trump administration was an abstraction and no one had any idea what he would do in office.
- Trump appointed the justices who overturned Roe. He appointed the right-wing apparatchiks to the federal bench who are rewriting the law out of whole cloth to conform to right-wing preferences. He made it possible for red-state governors like DeSantis to ban abortion and then use that as an excuse to thrust the power of the state into the private lives of Americans and control what they say and do, and even where they move. This is Donald Trump’s legacy.
- DeSantis shot back at Trump in desperation, “I think all pro-lifers should know that he’s preparing to sell you out.” The anti-abortion movement has, for the most part, not reacted as if it believes it has been sold out. In the past, Trump has frequently departed rhetorically from conservative orthodoxy only to make policy exactly as movement conservatives would want. The anti-abortion movement understands that Trump says all kinds of things he does not mean, such as declaring that he will raise taxes on the rich (he lowered them) and that he will replace the Affordable Care Act with something better (he sought only to repeal it). Trump famously sounded notes of acceptance towards trans people during the 2016 campaign, earning positive headlines, then attempted to purge them from the military as president.
- What Trump is saying at the moment is meaningless. What matters is what he has done. And he has done everything the movement wants. It has little reason to doubt he will again.