The leak of the potential Roe Vs Wade overturning decision has many Americans in an uproar. Many are taking to the streets in acts of peaceful assembly in order to show their positions for or against the upcoming verdict. This is part of what makes America, America. It is our fundamental right guaranteed by the founding principles via the First Amendment to our government’s Constitution. Why then, with this knowledge being baked into our rights as known freedoms are our lawmakers and justices raising their voices against Americans wishing to do so?
Protestors arrived en masse wherever they could to speak their minds on the upcoming ruling. To be certain, no matter what position you sit at regarding the decision, it is a tense time for both sides of the aisle.
The past two weekends following the leak have seen some key holidays on the timeline for folks in the communities I, as a parent and avid geek, represent which run the risk of encountering peaceful protestors. One of these is an unofficial holiday called Free Comic Book Day which is an annual event to bring families together to promote literacy. The other is an official holiday which seeks to honor mothers … a word that the ruling aims to potentially make more of if it indeed goes forward. Both of these were days when folks knew that they may see protestors as they went about their activities. These protests are often a part of regular geek and non-geek life. They are a part of everyday American culture whether we agree with their messages or not, whether it’s a holiday or a seemingly innocent event or not.
It is infuriating to see members of the very teams that are supposed to uphold and protect our constitutional freedoms making statements denouncing the rights of Americans to peacefully protest and assemble. It is a flippant disregard for Americans who do not exist as members of the ruling class. Such measures dissuading the rights of Americans to enact their Constitutional rights are working against our freedoms as Americans.
Ohio Representative Jim Jordan trended on Twitter on Wednesday complaining about protestors who chose to peacefully assemble outside of Supreme Court Justice’s homes. “Can you imagine the media outrage if protestors were outside Justice Sotomayor’s house?” he tweeted to impassioned readers. Senator Marsha Blackburn also made her own trending mark as she called for protestors to be arrested. “They should haul all of these people down to the police headquarters. They should book them for violating a federal statute.” she said.
A curious note to remember when lawmakers make statements about these items is that the Supreme Court upheld the right for folks to peacefully assemble outside of abortion clinics in 2014. The case, entitled McCullen v Coakley was delivered by then-Supreme Court Justices Roberts, Ginsburg, and Kagan. Per the notes on the opinion on page 4, “Justice Scalia filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Kennedy and Thomas joined.”
Perhaps telling that although Justice Thomas has publicly stated that he believed Casey was precedent, that concurring opinion filed by Justice Scalia might lead some to see personal bias. Page 35 of McCullen v Coakley states, “The second half of the Court’s analysis today, invalidating the law at issue because of inadequate ‘tailoring,’ is certainly attractive to those of us who oppose an abortion speech edition of the First Amendment.”
It is further frightening knowing these details to see a justice who already reaffirmed a right to protest to be vocal against the opposition of a possible ruling. Notably the ruling that was affirmed in the previous ruling was one which spoke favorably for protestors outside of abortion clinics.
Recently Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas stated that the court could not be “bullied” into giving the people the ruling that they want. This comment, paired with those of fellow lawmakers does not inspire confidence that justices and lawmakers have the interest of the people in mind when making their decisions which the governing people must abide by. It shows me that their only concern is upholding the ruling class and not our freedoms and fundamental rights guaranteed by the very document that folks are claiming to be supporting as the nature of their jobs.
If the American people cannot trust that the leaders we appoint (or, in the case of Supreme Court Justices, our President elects to appoint) to assist us with ensuring our freedoms desired by the mass collective of Americans, who are they actually working for? Do we really have any freedoms here if we do not have the right to assemble and state our thoughts? I don’t have to agree with the anti-abortion crowd to fear that these actions are a slippery slope in the wrong direction for all of us.