What happens to Roe v. Wade anyway?

Okay, I’m going on the record here with a few thoughts…

1) Trump will nominate a justice absolutely committed to over-turning Roe.  A whole bunch of people– most notably the nominee themself– will pretend otherwise.  The media will largely go along with this.  Way back when, Clarence Thomas has the chutzpah to deny he had ever discussed/thought about the Roe decision even though it occurred when he was in law school.  Don’t expect much better this time around.  Expect lies and evasions.  And this is not right.

2) Roe will at least be functionally over-turned.  My take on the most likely scenario is that John Roberts is far too smart to simply overturn this precedent.  He’s far more likely to gut it while pretending that he’s upholding the precedent.  Headlines will be more like “Court allows greater restrictions on abortion” even though these restrictions may reach the point of making abortion functionally illegal/unavailable in much of the country instead of the far more politically impact headlines of “Court strikes down Roe!”  My guess is the Roberts court pretty much lets anything go (TRAP laws on steroids) without actually over-turning Roe.  Also, maybe they’ll just overturn Roe, and I think there will surely be four votes to do that, but I have serious doubts as to whether Roberts is a 5th vote a clear overturning.

3) I think Will Saletan (who wrote a whole book on it) gets the politics right:

Most Americans are conflicted about abortion. They don’t like it, but they also don’t like the idea of banning it. In normal elections, these people focus on other issues. But when the court gets close to dismantling Roe, and when lawmakers start to look serious about banning abortion, ambivalent voters wake up. They start to notice, with concern, which candidates are pro-life. Some pro-life politicians end up losing their elections. Others hide or flee. The predicted frenzy of abortion bans turns into a frenzy of retreat.

I wrote a whole book about this, but I’ll boil it down here. The GOP faces three problems: a polling problem, a voting problem, and a politician problem.

The polling problem is that abortion is both a moral and a legal question. Lots of people who think abortion is wrong don’t like the idea of politicians, as a matter of law, telling women and families what to do. When Roe looks secure, these folks see the issue in terms of their moral qualms. But when Roe is in danger, they start to think more skeptically about whether the government should be involved…

The shift in views is compounded by a shift in intensity. Pro-choicers outnumber pro-lifers. But pro-lifers are more dedicated, and this gives them an advantage. In exit polls, when you zero in on the people who say abortion was their top voting issue, they’re more likely to be pro-life than pro-choice. That pro-life advantage diminishes, however, as the issue’s salience rises and the pool of abortion-driven voters increases. An influx of pro-choicers dilutes and eventually exceeds the pro-life faction. You can see this in presidential exit polls from 1984 to 2000. The larger the percentage of people who cast their ballots based on abortion, the smaller the pro-life advantage.

This is how pro-lifers undo themselves. When they accumulate enough justices to threaten Roe, they scare pro-choicers into voting on the issue. It’s no accident that in 1990, for the first time, the number of pro-choicers who made voting decisions based on abortion exceeded the number of pro-lifers who did so.

Together, the polling shift and the voting shift trigger a third problem: battlefield desertions. Some politicians who call themselves pro-life are willing to lose elections over the issue. But most are cowards. They don’t want the court to overturn Roe. They want to keep Roe as a punching bag and as a sandbag. Roe protects them from having to deliver on their promises to pro-life voters. It lets them fire up religious conservatives in elections without scaring suburbanites, libertarians, and younger voters who don’t want abortion to become illegal.

4) All this means that abortion is only going to become more politically salient for the foreseeable future.  Buckle up.

Abolish ICE?

You guys know that when it comes to policy, I’m all about what makes the most sense as good policy.  I’m not sure actually abolishing ICE makes the best policy, but it seems to me it is desperately in need of reform.  And, I’m thinking it’s a pretty reasonable argument that the best way to get that needed reform is through a political campaign around the idea, “Abolish ICE.”  Josh Marshall:

It’s key to understanding the role of power and clarity in politics. Let’s take the “Abolish ICE” slogan. I’m agnostic on whether this is precisely the right tack. But I’m inclined to think it is since on the merits I really do think we should abolish ICE as currently constituted and create a new immigration service that is not structured around paramilitary enforcement and isn’t so prone to abuses. I hear a lot about it’s better to say “reform ICE” or “thoroughly change the way we enforce immigration laws.” No. Electoral politics is far less about particular policies than it is about meta-messages about clarity and power. Policy and policy literalism is the libretto; these deeper messages are the score. If your political language tip toes around what you think or shows you’re not quite sure what you think or shows that you know what you think but may not be willing to act on what you think, that has bad consequences. It signals weakness and irresolution. It shows you may not have the resoluteness to act. And that counts for far more than the specifics of the policies.

And Brian Beutler:

Against this backdrop, more Democrats are joining calls for significant immigration enforcement reforms, including for abolishing ICE altogether. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called today for restructuring ICE as part of a broader push to “abolish the cruel, dysfunctional immigration system we have today and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

Many other Senate Democrats, like Sanders, have fallen short of calling for the elimination of ICE, but the rallying cry has helped shift the center of the immigration debate away from defensive responses to Trump’s scapegoating of immigrants, and toward a more humane discussion. [emphasis mine] Republicans, of course, have responded by lying systematically about why some Democrats want to abolish ICE, and what the consequences of it would be.

Should we actually abolish ICE?  I don’t know.  But I’m definitely on-board for “Abolish ICE.”

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