The corporate press and social media have been running in overdrive generating harmful, and often idiotic commentary since the Supreme Court decided to allow the Texas Heartbeat Act to go into effect last week.
Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review pointed out a Washington Post article that focused mainly on Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s vote with the 5-4 majority to refuse to place an injunction against the pro-life legislation. That article portrayed Kavanaugh’s voice as a betrayal and deception of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), whom he told during his confirmation hearings that he would give weight to precedent.
For that taken by the Washington Post to be accurate, one would have to read the court’s action last week as an effective repeal of Roe v. Wade. The paper, of course, does not present any voice that disputes that is an accurate interpretation.
The Washington Post article skims past the fact that the Texas Heartbeat Act was specifically designed to defeat claims for injunctive relief before it became effective and was implemented. Instead, the piece predictably excites the motion before the Supreme Court as if it were a full-blown contest about Roe’s immediate and overall applicability.
While the decision last week does not begin to imply that Roe should be reversed, it does preview how some of the justices might vote on that question when it is presented. A case coming from Mississippi, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, explicitly raises whether Roe is constitutionally valid and should be overturned.
Ponnuru notes that there has been much speculation since Kavanaugh’s confirmation that he will be hesitant to cast a vote overturning Roe. Whether it is because of a desire to avoid negative press coverage, reestablish good relations with liberals and progressives, or hesitation to break with Chief Justice John Roberts, several commentators consider Kavanaugh a probable supporter of Roe.
Kavanaugh may be putting speculation to rest about where he will likely end up on the Roe question. He certainly knew that his vote last week on the Texas case would bring him negative attention from the “mainstream” that acts as if it speaks for every woman in America on the matter.
In the Texas matter, Kavanaugh followed the precise requirements of the procedural law in play and split from Roberts, who joined with the three liberal justices. While none of that guarantees a particular outcome in the Dobbs case next term, it is a positive sign about Kavanaugh’s resolve.