Every Catholic knows about the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision by now, and every Catholic who has a measure of moral compass rejoices in it. Behind and beside the law of it, the plain practical fact is that there are babies– thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or (dare we hope?) millions of babies– that will live because of this ruling. They will escape the satanic murder fields in many states.
But as a Catholic with a legal education and a legalistic way of seeing things (I’m looking at you, Pope Benedict’s abdication attempt), I wanted to post about the wonderful and unlooked-for rebound of the rule of law in this term of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court sits in session from the first Monday in October until the Summer recess, with decisions typically being released by the end of June. The term ending today would be known as the October 2021 term. In the midst of the maelstrom of lawlessness and illegitimacy we see in the institutions of this country and many others, I believe if we survive as a nation to see the other side of this, the October 2021 term will be the Court’s most consequential since 1857 and (allowing of course for recency bias) the most beneficial to the health of the Constitution in its history.
This one term produced six huge wins for the rule of law:
The first case to come down was the Boston flag case, which held that where the city of Boston allowed various groups to fly flags on public property but was not using the program to express government speech, it could not discriminate against Christian groups who wished to participate. (Shurtleff v. City of Boston). This one is not earth-shaking, but it sent a signal that a brazen anti-religious bias from the government would not pass constitutional muster. And it was the first of three decisions that put real teeth in the Free Exercise Clause, so often ignored by the Court in the past fifty years.
Following this, in late June, we saw the final five enormous victories for the rule of law come at us like a steamroller. In Carson v. Makin, the Court held that if a state provides tuition assistance for its students, it could not impose a non-sectarian requirement without violating the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
Switching gears, but of vast importance, the Court confirmed in NYSRPA v. Bruen that the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding citizens to carry firearms in public for self-defense. The demonic ferocity of those disappointed with this decision seems tome to be a confirmation of its necessity.
Then, Dobbs. The best decision to come down from the Court in, seemingly, forever. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion.” Nothing more needs to be said.
Next, the Court delivered its other major Free Exercise Clause case, Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, confirming that both the Free Exercise Clause and the Free Speech Clause both act to protect personal religious observance from government reprisal.
Finally, today, the Court issued a decision, heavy in administrative law and dealing with the powers of Executive Branch bureaucracies, that struck down the radical EPA regulations designed to allow the federal government to kill the energy industry in the cause of the “climate change” scam (West Virginia v. EPA). Perhaps the least exciting of the major decisions to read, but not the least in importance to the future of this republic.
Not a bad session, I’d say. And as icing on the cake, all of the intellectual firepower on the Court today is in the conservative camp. Alito has taken on Justice Scalia’s intellectual mantle, while the other four conservatives have their own intellectual heft and ability. Roberts has a fine intellect too, but is not to be trusted, and I suppose will spend the next few terms trying to moderate the language of the majority by occasionally joining them and assigning key cases to himself to write the opinions. Only Kagan on the left has a brain worthy of the highest Court, misguided though it is.
In fact, the situation bodes so well that I expect the revolutionaries to pack the Court and continue to corrupt the electoral process with zeal and glee.
Regardless, this is a Supreme Court term to celebrate, and one for which we should thank Divine Providence.