The famous Silicon Valley adage “go fast and break things” can work well for technology startups. But for the Supreme Court of the United States, the exact opposite is necessary. The court should move slowly and work really hard not to break anything. Unfortunately for the country, the judges are set to break the 50-year-old precedent on abortion.
They don’t have to. Even if conservative justices are intent on curtailing abortion rights, there is a far less drastic option than reversing Roe v. Wade. They can simply assume that the Mississippi law in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which bans abortions after 15 weeks, is constitutional—and leave it at that.
It would still be a huge victory for conservatives. Right now states cannot physically limit abortion until about 24 weeks of pregnancy, when a fetus has achieved viability (despite Texas’ new and new restrictions). Limiting it to 15 weeks would sharply reduce abortion rights in many states. However, it would not be an unnecessary constitutional fracture, represented by Justice Alito’s leaked draft opinion eliminating Roe.
The court need not reverse the row thus. And, for the sake of the country, this should not happen. American body politics is, in fact, already running on the ragged edge of collapse. Furious partisanship, fierce indolence and shocking irrationality have infected political branches—from the election of Donald Trump as president to stagnation and dysfunction in Congress, to the dangerously ignorant ideas that dominate state and local governments.
The last thing the country needs is a pile of Supreme Court.
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Perhaps the most important pillar of American democracy that has not weakened in recent years is respect for court decisions. Ever since Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall in the 1803 case Marbury v. Madison that the judiciary defines the Constitution and that everyone else must abide by it, Americans of all stripes have widely respected court orders. . This fundamental principle of American democracy still stands.
at least for now.
It is imperative that this continues. Trump, for example, didn’t accept courts’ rejection of his 2020 presidential election litigation claims, it’s unclear whether Joe Biden’s inauguration would have happened on time. Simply put, the ongoing erosion of American democracy will accelerate dramatically if bad actors stop obeying court orders.
It is fundamentally important to maintain the legitimacy of the courts – of course, starting with the Supreme Court. By electing to reverse Roe, instead of keeping the Mississippi law under review, the court would dramatically reduce its own essential place in America’s constitutional constellation. It will be moving fast and breaking things when the country is in dire need of helping us to move slowly and stabilize our faltering politics.
The Supreme Court does not have to overturn Roe v. Wade. And, for the sake of American democracy, this should not happen.
William Cooper is an attorney and author of The Stress Test: How Donald Trump Threatens American Democracy. He wrote it for The Dallas Morning News.
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