"Supreme Revenge: Battle for the Court", PBS Frontline film

On Tuesday, Aug. 23, PBS stations re-aired a Frontline documentary “Supreme Revenge: Battle for the Court”, originally aired May 21, 2019 and the Nov. 24, 2020, basic link here.

Priyanka Boghani has a supplementary article 'How McConnell’s Bid to Reshape the Federal Judiciary Extends Beyond the Supreme Court'.

McConnell is best known for manipulating the filibuster once the GOP took the Senate in 2015 to keep Obama’s desired appointment of Merrick Garland from being heard, after Antonin Scalia suddenly passed away. 

That paved the way for Judge Gorsuch to be appointed by Trump, and then Justice Kavanagh.  We recall that in the confirmation hearings Kavanagh had to fend off accusations of sexual harassment in the distant past.  When Justice Ginsberg passed away from pancreatic cancer shortly before the Nov 2020 election (actually in Sept.), the way had been paved for Amy Comey Barrett to be appointed. The 6-3 conservative majority paved the way for the rescinding of Roe v. Wade in 2022 after the leak of Alito’s draft opinion in early May. By the way, it is worth mentioning that Barrett’s view on abortion has been naïve; she has always maintained that it is easy to place unwanted babies for adoption, and it is not.

The early part of the film showed the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas in 1991, despite the claims of sexual harassment involving Anita Hill. It also showed the objection to consideration of Robert Bork’s nomination in 1987. Testimony against Bork (who wrote “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”) from one of the Kennedy’s claimed Bork would remove all privacy protections toward Americans. Indeed, political campaigns in the gay community then focused on the danger of Supreme Court nominations.

The next term begins in October, and we wait to see if there are contrived challenges to previous opinions like Lawrence v Texas (2003) and Obergefell (2015).  If so will the Court hear them? Clarence Thomas, recall, wrote a concurrence suggesting that the notion of “substantive due process” had been just as flawed in these opinions as in Roe v. Wade. Thomas, unlike the other justices, seemed to be begging gratuitously for these cases to be brought up again. Gay people (most of all cis men) seem to experience in irony in having so much stake in the politics of abortion when they do not father children themselves (as part of their sexuality anyway).

That is one reason why activists have depended much more on the idea of suspect classes (or marginalized groups) and the Equal Protection clause, than in counting on the idea that individuals (outside of belonging to groups) can count on the due process clauses. That’s one reason why left wing ideas of solidarity (and almost compelled activism) hold so much sway, and why presidential electoral politics (which frankly favors rural conservative states somewhat) matters so much.

NBC (just above) offers a recent video on what conservative justices said about Roe v Wade during their confirmation.

(Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 1 PM EDT by John W Boushka)