June 29: Double Day of Death Dealing at the Supreme Court
Compiled by Rachel MacNair and Bill Samuel
Original content by Rachel MacNair
In June Medical Services vs. Russo, the Court upheld a ghastly precedent – yet again – by declaring a specific safety regulation unconstitutional. In Bourgeois v. Barr, the Court turned down even hearing a case challenging the lethal injection protocol for federal executions. Neither of these two cases would stop abortion or the death penalty, but both would have dealt with aspects to mitigate the damage.
June Medical Services vs. Russo: The Problem
I’m Louisiana State Senator Katrina Jackson. I am disappointed that today’s Supreme Court decision strikes down Louisiana common-sense law that I authored to protect women injured in abortion facilities. I am proud to be a pro-life Democrat. I am proud that this bill received overwhelming support by both women and men, Democrats and Republicans, Black legislators and White legislators. Once again, unelected justices have substituted their policy preferences over the clear will of the people of my great state. As long as the Supreme Court continues to meddle in an area that rightfully belongs in the democratic process, women will remain subject to sub-standard abortion facilities. But know that together, with my colleagues, we will continue to pursue policies that both protect the health and safety of women, and the lives of the unborn children. . . .
Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America (a CLN member group):
This decision endangers women’s health. Women’s safety should never be jeopardized, whether at a profit-driven abortion clinic or any other outpatient clinic. The three clinics, in this case, have been cited for 35 health and safety violations in the last decade. We are disturbed that without this reasonable regulation, women in Louisiana will suffer injuries without the benefit of face-to-face patient hand-offs, as mandated by medical best practice. Abortion doctors don’t deserve a special exemption from commonsense health regulations.
Contrary to the narrative promoted by NARAL and Planned Parenthood, this progressive law was brought into being by pro-life Democrats. It was authored by pro-life Democrat Katrina Jackson and signed into law by pro-life Democrat John Bel Edwards. Promoting women’s health and feminist values is fundamental to the idea of the Democratic Party. As Democrats, we care about women, who should have a right to the highest-quality medical care, in every instance. I call on the rest of the Democratic Party to join us in standing up to the $3 billion abortion industry and its laissez-faire approach to women’s health.
Rehumanize International (a CLN member group):
Pro-Lifers See Opportunities As Supreme Court Hands Down ‘Grievous’ Decision: After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down pro-life policies and thwarted bipartisan support for a state law, diverse pro-life voices share what it means.
On the left, [Terrisa] Bukovinac laments that her party has rejected pro-life liberals.
“Going into an election season with a Supreme Court decision that is really unpopular, is only going to help Republicans,” she said. “You don’t see any pro-choice people out here today. It hasn’t helped to rally any of their people whatsoever.”
Having protested outside Democratic debates, she notes the disconnect between party leaders and the grassroots. “The vast majority of Democrats, if they understood what this law is about, would support the pro-life position,” said Bukovinac. “We see the pro-life movement is growing stronger and more diverse.”
June Medical Services vs. Russo: Addressing the Problem
- Future Court Cases
Since in this 5-4 decision Justice Roberts filed a separate opinion that was narrower than Breyer’s opinion, Roberts’ opinion controls. While Roberts felt compelled to uphold precedent, he reiterated that he thought the precedent was wrongly decided – he had voted against it in 2016.
There are several abortion-defending and other sources that believe he was actually being crafty. The 2016 precedent expanded the pro-abortion impact of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and he un-expanded it. See, for example, this article or this article in The New York Times, this article or this article in Slate, and this in Vox. More neutrally, this SCOTUS blog or the PBS News Hour segment. Basically, Roberts won’t allow regulations that are against precedent, but he’ll allow others that don’t have any precedent of having been struck down.
- Publicizing How Hard and Stigmatized Abortions Are
As is common on these occasions, abortion defenders pointed out that Louisiana, which used to have 11 abortion facilities, has only three left. They’ll let us know that only two of the five doctors who do abortions in Louisiana can get those hospital admitting privileges. They mention that five states each have only one abortion facility left (Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia). They’re doing their best to illustrate how much abortion isn’t available.
In other words, they’re doing a far better job than we’re even capable of to document to the American public the decline of the abortion business. They’re getting Americans ready for further decline. They think they’re sounding alarm bells, but actually, to many Americans, a ban is uncomfortable but a decline sounds pretty good.
Meanwhile, if you’re a pregnant woman, or a couple considering the activity that makes for pregnancy, these pronouncements serve as anti-advertisements. Letting people know how difficult something is tends to be a turn-off.
- Most Actions Don’t Require the Court’s approval
Only the legislative route requires paying attention to what the Court will allow. Everything else we do – education and advocacy, providing material help, etc. — we keep doing. Here are a some of our own projects that were always intend to bypass what courts and candidates for election do:
And an educational effort to erode support for Roe v. Wade, showing its damage beyond just what it did on abortion: The Price of Roe.
Bourgeois v. Barr: The Problem
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to the federal execution protocol, removing a potential major obstacle to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) plan to resume federal executions after a 17-year hiatus. The decision leaves in place an April 2020 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that lifted an injunction that had halted federal executions. The Department has scheduled four executions in July and August. . . .
The federal government has carried out only three executions since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, most recently in 2003. Lawyers for the four prisoners say their cases are emblematic of major flaws in the federal death penalty, including inadequate representation, the use of junk science, arbitrariness, insufficient appellate review, and federal overreach into cases typically handled by states.
“A pervasive myth is that the federal death penalty is ‘the gold standard’ of capital punishment systems,” said Ruth Friedman, Director of the Federal Capital Habeas Project and an attorney for Daniel Lee. “This is false. The federal death penalty is arbitrary, racially-biased, and rife with poor lawyering and junk science.”
Friedman said the federal death penalty also has its own distinct set of issues, including federal overreach into crimes traditionally handled in state court and restricted appellate review of capital convictions and death sentences. “Despite these problems, and even as people across the country are demanding that leaders rethink crime, punishment, and justice, the government is barreling ahead with its plans to carry out the first federal executions in 17 years,” Friedman said. ”Given the unfairness built into the federal death penalty system and the many unanswered questions about both the cases of the men scheduled to die and the government’s new execution protocol, there must be appropriate court review before the government can proceed with any execution.”
Bourgeois v. Barr: Addressing the Problem
This removes one obstacle to executions in these cases, but there are other legal hurdles still being pursued. So as far as these specific four cases go, attorneys still have options.
For stopping the death penalty as a whole, fortunately, unlike abortion cases, the Court is only allowing executions, not requiring that they be done or permitted. Many states have abolished the death penalty, and the Court won’t interfere with states abolishing the death penalty if they wish to. We still have options using democracy, not blocked by the Court, to also persuade the federal government to stop.
See details and background on the 27th annual Starvin’ for Justice Fast & Vigil here. We’ve generally had a CLN presence there for the past few years. It’s being held virtually this year, already started, June 29-July 2.
See also our page on Future Referendum Ideas on our Peace & Life Referendums site, where we offer details for a proposal for a state-wide referendum for conscientious objection to both abortions and executions, with a list of which states offer funding for either one or both.