Who’s a Threat to Democracy?


The latest theme on the political left is that the Supreme Court Justices who might overturn Roe v. Wade are at war with democracy. It’s a strange argument, since overturning Roe would merely return abortion policy to the states for political debate in elections and legislatures. That’s the definition of democracy.

But since they brought it up, by all means let’s talk about who is really threatening democracy. An independent judiciary is crucial to democratic self-government, and after the leak of Justice

Samuel Alito’s

draft opinion, the left is targeting the Justices who might vote to end Roe.

***

An outfit known as Ruth Sent Us is inviting people to harass six “extremist justices.” The group, named after the late Justice

Ruth Bader Ginsburg,

this week published the locations of their homes in a map on its website (though it vanished without explanation on Friday).

The group is calling for protests at Catholic churches this Sunday and at the Justices’ homes next week. Why Catholic? Presumably because the church teaches that abortion is wrong and four of the five Justices said to be joining Justice Alito’s opinion are Catholic. The anti-religious animus at work here isn’t subtle.

Everyone has the right to protest, but assailing the families of judges at home is a blatant attempt at intimidation. If the leaker wanted to mobilize public hostility to the Court, he is succeeding.

Where would someone get the idea to harass the Court? Well, perhaps from Senate Majority Leader

Chuck Schumer,

who stood on the Supreme Court steps in March 2020 as the Justices considered a previous abortion case.

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions,” he literally screamed.

He was referring to Justices

Neil Gorsuch

and

Brett Kavanaugh.

Chief Justice

John Roberts

publicly rebuked Mr. Schumer, but what did he mean by “the whirlwind”?

Remarkably, White House press secretary

Jen Psaki

has declined to criticize the Ruth Sent Us intimidation tactics. “I think the president’s view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness from many, many people across this country about what they saw in that leaked document,” she rationalized.

Ms. Psaki also declined to criticize the leak of the draft opinion, though it clearly harms the reputation of the Court. What happened to President Biden’s concern for declining public trust in government institutions?

The threats against the Court are enough that a fence has gone up around the Supreme Court building, and new security has been laid on. A violent act by a fanatic can’t be ruled out, and this warrants the attention of Attorney General

Merrick Garland.

Federal law makes it a crime to threaten federal judges, and that includes threats of vigilantism.

A Virginia statute makes it a misdemeanor to picket “before or about the residence or dwelling place of any individual, or who shall assemble with another person or persons in a manner which disrupts or threatens to disrupt any individual’s right to tranquility in his home.” One or more of the targeted Justices live in Virginia.

***

So which side of the Roe argument is really antidemocratic? The law before the Supreme Court is Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks. The abortion-rights movement has failed to persuade the people of Mississippi, and now it wants five unelected Justices, 1,000 miles away in Washington, to take that policy choice away from the voting public.

Fundamental rights promised by the Constitution aren’t subject to popular rule, but Justice Alito’s point in his draft opinion is that abortion isn’t one of them, and nobody seriously imagined it might be until Roe in 1973.

The actual threat to democratic norms is the left’s onslaught on the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. An independent judiciary is the guarantor of the freedoms that actually are in the Constitution. Democrats should reflect on the way that judges appointed by Mr. Trump turned back his bogus claims of a stolen election in 2020.

The Supreme Court’s job is to say what the law is, not to be a body of philosopher kings to impose progressive outcomes. Overturning Roe won’t usurp democracy. It will put the abortion debate back where it belongs in a democracy—for voters to decide.

Review & Outlook: Following the leak of a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the Democratic Party sees an opportunity to divert the public’s attention from the rising cost of living. Images: Bloomberg Composite: Mark Kelly

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