Court, schmort

A nice debunking, over at Counterpunch, of the perennial Supreme Court bogeyman. Excerpt:

Of course, we have been living with a Court with a majority of Republican appointees for decades now, and Roe v. Wade has remained intact ever since that landmark 1973 pro-abortion decision, which was delivered by a 7–2 majority from a court with 6 Republican appointees, including the notorious conservatives Lewis Powell and Warren Burger

The … court has been no more immune to political and social forces than any other branch of government….

Roe v. Wade was a conspicuous case in point. The pro-abortion ruling was not the result of seven elderly, mostly reactionary, mostly white patriarchs suddenly discovering their inner feminist soul—it was, rather, the fruit of the rapidly intensifying social and political ferment of the late sixties and early seventies. The tempo of attitudinal change was dizzying on all social fronts, not least of all among American women and in general views about their role in society:  in 1968, only 15 percent of Americans believed that women had a right to an abortion. By 1971, the number had skyrocketed to 50 percent. In 1970, New York State, acceding to growing pressures, became the first state to legalize abortion. By 1971 women were marching in major national demonstrations to demand the right to choose. Roe v. Wade emerged out of clamor of thousands of women in the streets, not out of the wizened skulls of seven patrician gents in robes.

The landmark decisions of the postwar liberal Warren Court owed just as much to shifting social attitudes and pressures. Keep in mind that Earl Warren was a Republican governor of California appointed to the high court by Eisenhower, yet he presided over a sweeping series of progressive rulings in civil rights and civil liberties, most notably in Brown v. Board of Education. But that pivotal 1954 decision, which overturned racial segregation in public schools, was inspired more by geopolitical self-interest than any pangs of conscience by the court. 

Good stuff. Go read the whole thing.

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