SCOTUS and the leaked draft: a 28-3 moment for the pro-life movement

Someone associated with the Supreme Court of the United States – a clerk, I’d wager – has slipped a reporter a copy of a draft opinion by Justice Alito in the Dobbs case, in which Alito bids Roe v. Wade goodbye. Activists who should know better are jumping for virtual joy.

Let’s get a grip. The draft is just that: a draft, not a final opinion. Nothing has been overturned.

Why leak the draft? Because for anyone who supports Roe v. Wade, this might seem like a time for desperate measures. Leaking the draft will put enormous pressure on the Justices who have reportedly indicated support for the draft. There is still time to flip a vote or two.

Why do I call this a 28-3 moment? A few years back, the score in the third quarter of the Super Bowl was 28-3. The Falcons were spanking the Patriots. The fourth quarter was going to be a mere formality. Except…the Pats clawed back, and won the game 34-28. (My husband gets the credit for reminding me of this.)

With the release of the leaked SCOTUS draft opinion, the pro-life movement looks like that team with the 25-point lead. Premature celebration is not a good idea.

Until at least five Justices formally sign on to something together, Dobbs is up in the air. The Court could go either way, meaning it might or might not overturn Roe. I suspect the three Justices who will feel the most heat are Barrett, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh. The public uproar over the leaked draft hints at the private pressures they must be feeling today.

And if somehow Dobbs overturns Roe, the figurative 25-point lead could be temporary.

Even if it does overturn Roe by returning abortion policy to state legislatures, there is no sign that the Court will use the Dobbs case to assert and defend the fundamental right to life of each human being. Instead, at best, the Court seems poised to tell us that we are free to argue for that right one state at a time.

That’s a far cry from the truth once held to be self-evident. Created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…among these are life….

If you think the battles in Concord over life-issue legislation will come to an end post-Dobbs, think again. The state constitution will be up for grabs.

The medical professionals involved in abortion will work harder than ever to persuade women and policymakers that they, the abortion providers, are the compassionate ones.

The political battles, grim as they’ll continue to be, will be child’s play compared to the overwhelming need to expand the network of personal and social supports that a woman or girl needs when her pregnancy is a challenge.

This is a moment for rededication to relentless, peaceful action in defense of life. Our service to each other, in words and actions and prayers, public and private, must lead us where the Court still seems unwilling to go.

If Justice Alito’s draft eventually becomes the Court’s decision, I’ll take time to cheer. Then I’ll get back to work alongside people with hearts wiser and more courageous than mine, knowing that the Court has left us with a lot of brokenness to mend.

Post header photo by Ellen Kolb.

Mrs. McCullen and Justice Jackson

The U.S. Senate on a 53-47 vote has confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to a seat on the Supreme Court.

While the Senate Judiciary Committee was hearing testimony on the nomination a couple of weeks ago, a familiar name turned up: Eleanor McCullen, sidewalk counselor and free speech advocate, victorious plaintiff in the McCullen v. Coakley case that overturned a Massachusetts buffer zone law. Her full statement to the Judiciary committee is now a matter of public record. Bottom line: any senator voting to confirm Jackson to the Court was voting to confirm someone known to be hostile to peaceful pro-life witnesses.

Here’s an excerpt.

I was deeply saddened to find out that Judge Jackson, while working in private practice, advocated in favor of Massachusetts’ previous ‘buffer zone’ law in her amicus brief on behalf of abortion clinics and abortion advocacy groups including NARAL. In her amicus brief, she and her colleagues maligned pro-life sidewalk counselors, characterizing us in ugly and false ways.

Her misrepresentations certainly don’t describe me or any of the sidewalk counselors that I have worked with over the years who provide support, love, and options to women. Indeed, the entire reason I challenged the ‘buffer zone’ law was because I did not want to shout from a distance or come across as insensitive or compassionless to the women and families I served with love.

Thankfully, in 2014, after years of litigation, all nine Justices of the Supreme Court agreed that Massachusetts’s ‘buffer zone’ violated the First Amendment.

…I’m thankful the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in my case. When a woman is alone, sidewalk counselors walk with her in that moment. When a child is just minutes from losing his or her life, sidewalk counselors serve as their voice.

…I would ask Judge Jackson that if she is confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States she will choose to uphold all Americans’ First Amendment freedoms.

In conclusion, you might wonder why I am so passionate about supporting mothers and free speech. Well, it’s called love. And love . . . you can’t argue with that.

Statement of Eleanor McCullen
Hearing on the Nomination of the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
March 24, 2022
Eleanor McCullen. Alliance Defending Freedom photo.

To no one’s surprise, New Hampshire’s Senators Shaheen and Hassan voted to confirm now-Justice Jackson.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear challenge to Roe on December 1

The state of Mississippi enacted a law in 2018 restricting abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation. It was challenged in court (of course). The case, called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments are scheduled for December 1, with a decision to be handed down in 2022. The Court will be asked to rule on whether states may enact any pre-viability abortion restrictions.

This gives the Court a chance to overrule Roe and Casey. It also gives the Court a chance to affirm them.

For all the recent agitation that has accompanied the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justices, no one knows how Dobbs will come out.

I’ll be traveling to Washington, DC on December 1 to stand outside the Supreme Court beside pro-life activists from around the country urging the Justices to let the Mississippi law stand. Discount airfare, one-day trip, pack a lunch: no sweat. For me, it’ll be like the March for Life seven weeks early.

For those staying closer to home, a coalition of Christian groups is organizing an online prayer event to be held on November 18 at 8 p.m. Eastern time. From the event’s invitation:

Join Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians across the country coming together online to pray for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. This is the case that could could overturn Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in all 50 states. This historic online gathering will bring together Christians across denominations. Together, we will pray for a just outcome that protects millions of preborn babies and their mothers. Jesus says, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Join us!

Find the flyer for the November event at prayfordobbs.com. There’s also a printable information sheet about the Dobbs case. Share freely.

One needn’t be Christian to recognize the right to life, and groups like Secular Pro-Life are supporting the Mississippi law. There’s room for everyone to urge the Court to move past Roe.

On Judge Barrett

As one Catholic woman to another, I send my best wishes to Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the U.S. Senate votes on her nomination to the Supreme Court. 

I don’t know how she’d vote on a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, and neither do you. Even so, I think every objection to her nomination comes down to one thing: the possibility that she might have even the teensiest reservation about abortion. Any objections to her faith I’ve encountered are all about that. It’s not that she’s Catholic; it’s that she might take Catholic teaching on the nature of abortion and conscience rights seriously.

That’s “might.” One may hope.

Read the rest of the post at ellenkolb.com.

Justice Ginsburg, RIP

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at the age of 87 after a long period of declining physical health. She had long been the Court’s most outspoken and passionate defender of abortion.

She’s in the hands of merciful God. Perhaps she’s now picking up the thread of a conversation with her fellow Justice and firm friend, the late Antonin Scalia.

I can’t think of any judicial figure who has done more over the past couple of decades to inspire me and spur me on. She wouldn’t quit. She was awesomely, incredibly tenacious. I’ll carry an indelible memory of her in the news, in robes and lacy jabot, gaunt from cancer but sharp of wit and mind.

She constantly and implacably rejected the right to life even as she promoted what by her lights were the rights of women. It’s one of history’s great ironies that she’ll go down as a women’s rights advocate, when her advocacy was clearly based on the assumption that no human being, male or female, had a right to live until granted one by someone else.

Even so, I think pro-life activists can learn from her.

Don’t live behind an intellectual or emotional moat. Have a life. Love your family. Cherish your friends.

Don’t let anyone else tell you you’re wrong when you know perfectly well there’s injustice going on.

Speak and write intelligently, persuasively, and without apology. That’s “and,” not “or.”

Don’t expect anyone to fight your battles for you. It’s fine and necessary, however, to cultivate allies to fight your battles with you.

Persist. Then persist some more.

A tall order, perhaps, but Justice Ginsburg was up for it. Can anyone defending life settle for less?