Janet Y. Jackson St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Recently, a rare celestial phenomenon nicknamed “the great parade of planets” was reported by news outlets worldwide. The event, which had not been seen in 18 years, began on June 14 and ended on Monday. It featured five planets and the moon appearing in a line, simultaneously visible from the ground. For those of us of a liberal bent, it feels as if the planets have been aligned against us since 2016, starting with the refusal of the Senate to vote on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Now, just as then, the Republican minority in Congress is obstructing nearly all of the Democratic president’s proposals. And now, just as then, the signs are everywhere. Overturning Roe v. Wade was just the beginning. If you disbelieve me, reflect.
It wasn’t just the boisterous Trump machine riling up those who believed they were being left behind or who felt discriminated against because of their light skin color, but also the reluctance of Sen. Bernie Sanders and his followers to support Hillary Clinton after she won the Democratic nomination.
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It was FBI Director James Comey’s new investigation of supposedly leaked emails from Clinton’s home computer a few months before the election, which left many citizens convinced that America’s adversaries may have gained access to government secrets.
It was people who didn’t want a woman as president even though they’d deny having such a prejudice. It was people listening to President Donald Trump decrying science during the coronavirus epidemic and suggesting that disinfectant or medication used primarily to deworm livestock could cure the scourge if ingested.
It was discovering that friends and family who’d seemed sensible beforehand denying that we now had a president who was overtly sexist and racist, who governed by vindictiveness, firing anyone who disagreed with him, and who called hate mongers “good people.”
It was Democrats striving to “go high,” in former first lady Michelle Obama’s words, when even now Republicans continue to cleave to a man courting those who go low. And then Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. These are the events that predicated the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe.
Even before the leaked draft of the abortion decision occurred earlier this year, I had no doubt whatsoever that Roe v. Wade would be overturned. I even expected the decision would be made on a Friday shortly before the justices’ scheduled recess, thereby allowing states to enact their trigger laws and leaving news organizations worldwide scrambling to comment on its effect.
In hindsight, some members of Congress who’d been on the confirmation panel of the three Trump Supreme Court nominees say they now feel blindsided because these candidates said or implied that they would not re-adjudicate established law like Roe. To that, I say: Really? How many job applicants offer up answers that they think the prospective employer is looking for, even if their true feelings differ? Why wouldn’t you think an applicant for a Supreme Court appointment would act differently?
Now, almost 50 years after the Roe v. Wade decision, women all across the country have been stripped of the right to control their bodies. This decision is not just a slippery slope, it’s the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg. Once an established right has been taken away, where will it stop?
Perhaps the court will accept a case advocating the obliteration of the 13th and 14th Amendments altogether and reinstate slavery. However, since women have no authority to control what is growing in their uteruses, perhaps they’ll hear a case proposing overturning the 19th Amendment, thereby prohibiting voting rights to women. After Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that prior opinions concerning contraceptives, LGBTQ rights and marriage equality might be the next targets of the court, actor Samuel L. Jackson tweeted the question I too wondered, namely: why the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case banning states from prohibiting interracial marriage — as is Thomas’s — was not on his hit list.
I’ve heard more than one person say that they don’t vote because all politicians are crooked. Forget that. Now is not the time to boycott voting. If women want to restore control over their own bodies, they must start by voting against politicians that have joyfully taken away that right, from the local level up. The planets will continue to be aligned against us all if those women don’t.
Janet Y.Jackson is a Post-Dispatch columnist and an Editorial Board member.