Supreme Court’s public respect plummets with Dobbs decision, and here’s why, IMO


The outrage of marchers is evident in signage at this protest of the Dobbs V. Dobbs v Women’s Health Organization abortion case, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade decision, in New York, June 24, 2022. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

Approval of the Supreme Court has traditionally been high, as it is the branch of government seen as most above the taint of politics. However, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the court’s public approval rating has plummeted, from 54% in March to 44% in May to a new low of 38% in July, according to a new national poll by Marquette University.

“The obvious cause is the June 24 decision known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a ruling opposed by almost two-thirds of Americans who have an opinion on it.  The decline in the court’s approval has come entirely from people who disagree with that ruling undoing a constitutional right to abortion.” 1

I’ve read most of the decision and here’s why I think it went far astray from righteousness. The Court’s written majority opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade works hard to delegitimize the varied aspects of the inherent rights of women contained in a variety of established laws and precedents, and Constitutional amendments.

However, Justice Samuel Alito’s written effort is almost completely engaged in the abstract of legal theory and argument, and ultimately funnels all subsequent decisions on actual abortion in America into “a state’s assertion of powers” – which the majority opinion elevates to the status of a secular godliness.

Alito now brings to mind Pontius Pilate washing his hands (symbolically of Christ’s blood) after sentencing him to a public crucifixion. This decision will lead to the unnecessary deaths of countless women, mainly those disenfranchised women (typically of color) with little resources, who will be forced into “back-alley” abortions or self-abortions, or who will die in childbirth — a statistically far more dangerous situation than legal abortion from a qualified doctor.

How smart (and noble?) do the choice opponents think they are in their attempt to reduce abortions? This misogynistic ruling might work about as well as the institutionally racist “war on drugs.” An article in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books details how the now-reversed abortion bans in Ireland did nothing to reduce abortions. 2

Whatever happened to the rights of the individual Americans, under the premise that “all (persons) are created equal,” and due the same rights, as the Declaration of Independence declared? This is a very serious question, which must be answered.

In other words, the majority’s approach epitomizes the “above it all,” and “holier than thou” posture of those who would conceptually separate any potential child from their mother, even as it presumes to save the fetus’s life. ( As a male, I won’t even begin to do justice to such a posture forsaking the mother, the giver, and sustainer, of life). Both mother and child are forgotten, after birth, in this arid moral universe. Yet, a child is born to live a meaningful life, not merely born for the sake of being born. A healthy, nurturing mother is crucial to the baby’s survival, and subsequent growth and development, into a life of hopefully honest citizenship.

The peculiar nature of this doctrinaire separation of child and mother (by prioritizing rights of a fetus) and from their ensuing lives, characterizes the conceptual flaw of such a purity, indeed a Puritan, attitude, with its fixation on the moment of conception. It is profound inconsideration of real life. It is as if to say, there is a pure way to decide upon, and live life when, in fact, life is a complex weave of relative purities and distinct impurities, some which strengthen the corpus by the fortification of layered harmonies, just as a scar naturally strengthens a skin from further defilement or penetration.

Returning to religious terms that I hope some choice opponents might hear, there’s a difference between purity and holiness. Christ noted that “we are all sinners,” thus human purity is an oxymoron, if not an impossibility. We are blessed by God’s grace so that we may be forgiven our sins, or failings. Even the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” does not specify. Have we not all killed a living creature, in some sense, to consume for nutritional purposes? A mother must make the hard decision to bear  another child or not, so she may properly manage the burden of children she has already. Even a childless woman may not be ready for motherhood, for good reasons only she and her doctor know in reality. This is all part of the proverbial Cycle of Life, an often-harsh reality duly blessed by its Creator, to believers, but surely Darwinian to some degree.

Further, if we value the nuclear family, as conservatives typically purport to, how can that be formed or sustained properly when a woman is raped, or a victim of incest?

I will concede this, that an abortion should occur before the point of fetal “viability” or, if later, only if the mother’s life is otherwise seriously threatened by birth.

To another large point, imagine the consequences of widespread abortion bans in this vastly overpopulated world, a profound reason for the overconsumption of fossil fuels and overdevelopment bringing us the climate change threatening the planet. This gargantuan reality single-minded anti-abortionists seemingly ignore as well, with astonishing hubris.

By contrast, the dissenting Supreme Court opinion (from Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan) delves directly and profoundly into the personal realities of pregnancy, in all its threatening uncertainties. This is the real life that any woman or legal child, regardless of how she is impregnated, must face and endure. Regardless of what opponents of choice may think, she must face these realities, because the saving of a would-be child can, and ought, to be a blessing.

But that is always accompanied by the realities and hardships, psychological as well as physical, that the human body, even at its most empowered and exalted, struggles to transcend. This brings us again to her naturally endowed rights, to be able to live a humane life.

Read this from the court’s minority dissent:

“Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens. Yesterday, the Constitution guaranteed that a woman confronted with an unplanned pregnancy could (within reasonable limits) make her own decision about whether to bear a child, with all the life-transforming consequences that act involves. And in thus safeguarding each woman’s reproductive freedom, the Constitution also protected “[t]he ability of women to participate equally in [this Nation’s] economic and social life.” Casey, 505 U. S., at 856. But no longer. As of today, this Court holds, a State can always force a woman to give birth, prohibiting even the earliest abortions.

“A State can thus transform what, when freely undertaken, is a wonder into what, when forced, may be a nightmare. Some women, especially women of means, will find ways around the State’s assertion of power. Others—those without money or childcare or the ability to take time off from work—will not be so fortunate. Maybe they will try an unsafe method of abortion, and come to physical harm, or even die. Maybe they will undergo pregnancy and have a child, but at significant personal or familial cost. At the least, they will incur the cost of losing control of their lives. The Constitution will, today’s majority holds, provide no shield, despite its guarantees of liberty and equality for all.” 3


Finally, and so sadly, we now have the disgraceful revelation of actual behavior of the majority’s principal author, Samuel Alito. We get a good sense of the man behind this atrocious decision. Alito showed some of his true colors in a recent public speech by mocking foreign leaders who condemned the decision, in manner dripping with condescension, because they have no right to an honorable opinion on “American law.”

Mother Jones magazine pulls no punches in reportorial response (below). But judge for yourself, in the video clip. Why is this man playing for laughs, about this matter?

Even more, he implicitly derides Macron, Johnson and others for being mere politicians. Yet what has Alito, Thomas and the three Trump appointees become, beneath their august robes, with such radical judicial activism, defying the opinion of the American majority, and of legal precedent?

Of Course Samuel Alito Is Bragging About It



  1. Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
  2. Fintan O’Toole, “The New York Review of Books, August, 18, 2022.
  3. Dobbs v. Jackson “dissent opinion”




The savage beast in Texan Nanci Griffith? It would’ve risen, now that her home state has betrayed her and all her sisters

Singer songwriter Nanci Griffith was an activist with plenty of strong stances but, unlike a Texan who became president, this Texan did “do nuance” in politics, as her two campaign buttons here suggest. Courtesy The Guardian

Music moves us, as it does the savage beast. Can it move the savage beast within us? I was accused, long ago, of avoiding cliches in my music writing, when I really try to respond in a creative and vivid way to what I hear from musical artists. That approach can allow the music to carry me where the artist has the power to go, and can lead to plenty of metaphors and similies, in an effort to evoke or describe music in words.

Still, I know some cliches have staying power, or can rise Phoenix-like from the past, so the “savage beast” can cut, or bite, in two ways at least (there I go with the charred simile and painful metaphor, but that’s just how it comes out.).

The savage beast or SB (to not belabor the name of the aging, wizened creature) comes to mind today for two reasons, which bite in opposite directions:

1. The SB (8) (can an “o” be aptly inserted between those two consonants?) is Senate Bill 8, the outrageous new Texas law against a woman’s right to choose an abortion, which that the state legislature just passed. “The Texas law, known as Senate Bill 8, amounts to a nearly complete ban on abortion in Texas because 85 to 90 percent of procedures in the state happen after the sixth week of pregnancy, according to lawyers for several clinics.” 1.

In other words, most women are unaware they are even pregnant at six weeks, so their right to chose is effectively revoked.

The ban allows no exemptions for rape or incest.

Even more bizarrely draconian, the bill gives any Texas citizen a $10,000 motive to sue any person they believe might have “committed” an abortion, or even facilitated one, even a cabbie or Uber driver who takes a woman to a clinic. If the suer wins, they also win $10,000. Has any state law ever been more corrupted by the money motive? (The Supreme Court’s notorious 2010 Citizens United case, may still take the cake nationally for money-corrupting politics, contorting the 14th amendment into a weird concept of “corporate personhood”)

2. The SB within Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith, a true daughter of Texas who died recently, but has made her view on the political subject quite clear. I think the new law would have the SB within her rising again. She made it musically clear when she composed and recorded her song, “Time of Inconvenience,” which protests pro-life activism against Roe v. Wade, and aims her slightly sideways-yet-pointed irony towards those who feel it’s too “inconvenient” to make their voices heard for justice, especially today, to get out from behind our devices, and expose ourselves perhaps to verbal or even physical abuse.

The song, recorded on Flyer in 1994. has been covered by several other artists. And if you listen to the song now, it is startlingly relevant today, even setting the bigger-picture scene of:

We’re living in a time of inconvenience./ Compassion fails me with this meanness in the air./ Our city streets are filled with violence./  So we close the doors to the anger/ and pretend that it’s not there…

Griffith uses the first person plural throughout the lyric, so she included herself among those guilty of feeling that certain activism is inconvenient. But Griffith was clearly not closing her doors at this point. She was out in the streets…”Here I go again…the evil seems to cling to the soles of my feet…”

Here is the song in a YouTube video

The one time I saw her live, in Madison in 2008, I recall a bracing forthrightness about her, a fearlessness about speaking her mind on anything. By then, she’d survived two cancers and looked older than I expected. But clearly wisdom, weary yet heavy-booted, carried her songs and buttressed her being.

She was indeed an activist with largely liberal voice, and “Inconvenience” includes a kicker line: “And if you ain’t got money / You ain’t got nothin’ in this land.” But she also  understood political nuance, unlike fellow Texan George W. Bush, as suggested in the two campaign buttons in the photo at top, one extolling the reasonably moderate Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower, the other the new breed of Democrat represented by Barack Obama..

And even if in “A Time of Inconvenience” “the right-to-life man has become my enemy,” she’s speaking about more than a woman’s right to choose. She’s singing about “the age of greed and power/ where everyone seems to need someone to shove around./ Our children come to us for answers/ Listening for freedom but they don’t know the sound.”

Part of the freedom she references is the freedom of life denied an innocent man wrongly condemned by the death penalty, which isn’t addressed explicitly in this song and yet in the video you see the brilliantly pointed rejoinder to both Citizens United and the death penalty on a protest sign: “I’ll believe corporations are people the day Texas executes one.

She does directly address the death penalty in a later song, “Not Innocent Enough,” inspired by a conversation she had in a car with Phillip Workman, who was later executed in Tennessee for allegedly murdering a police officer, based on false witness testimony and evidence that was withheld or manufactured, the county district attorney at the time admitted. The state Supreme Court refused to hear Workman’s final appeal.

Philip Workman in 2002, executed May 9, 2007. Wikipedia.

“I wanted to tell him, ‘You know you didn’t do this, hang in there.'” Griffith recounted in an interview with 2 “But I didn’t. It’s overwhelming. I started writing that song not long after that conversation with Phillip, but I didn’t finish it until after he was executed.”

Q. What kind of reaction have you gotten to the song?
A. “Everyone’s amazed that they didn’t know about this case, just like The Lovings Vs. the State of Virginia (which inspired the title song of her 2009 album The Loving Kind). Just as they are amazed with the case in Texas where the guy was executed and then exonerated after the execution. I’m a total abolitionist when it comes to the death penalty but these cases make me feel stronger about that than ever.”

Though she always excelled at vivid, character-driven storytelling songs and those of failed love, she clearly became more activist over the course of her career, with an increasing array of politically-charged songs, including “Cotton’s All We’ve Got,” “It’s a Hard Life,” “The Loving Kind” (about interracial marriage) and “Hell No (I’m Not Alright)”

 The latter song became an unexpected anthem in 2012 for protesters during the Occupy Wall Street movement.

That same year she told an interviewer that she was “too radical” for contemporary US politics. “I was angry about something,” she said about “Hell No (I’m Not Alright).”. “Apparently everybody else was angry about the same thing.”

In her book, Nanci Griffith’s Other Voices: A Personal History of Folk Music, She comments about “Time of Inconvenience.”: “It says, ‘I would go to war to protect a woman’s right to choose.’ In other words, I’m saying if you take the law away from me, that gives me the right, in America, to make my own choices, that would be the only thing I would pick up a gun to defend.”

Would Nanci kill in those circumstances?
“I would go to war to defend that law, and if a woman’s right to choose, and to do with her own body what she sees fit, were taken away from me, I would go to war, I definitely would fight for my constitutional right to keep the boys in Washington out of my bedroom. As a say in that song, ‘The right-to-life man has become my enemy.’

“When I do voters for choice shows for Gloria Steinem, there are always people outside with their placards and signs and shaking those rubber fetuses in the air and all that horrible stuff. So I would hope that by writing about these concerns and similar subjects I’m carrying on that great tradition in folk music.” 3.

Those tempted to begin messing with the stance of a woman protecting her right to chose, remember she’s considering lethal protection in self defense. This recent meme addresses the duplicity of being “pro-life”: New Rule: If you ban abortion before you ban military-style assault rifles that massacre children in school, you’ve lost your right to be called “pro-life.” 



2. Interview with Griffith:

3. Nanci Griffith and Joe Jackson, Nanci Griffith’s Other Voices: A Personal History of Folk Music, Three Rivers, 1998, 72