The Kavanaugh confirmation fight will be remembered as the moment when everything changed.
In 1856, a congressman from South Carolina clubbed a senator from Massachusetts into bloody unconsciousness on the floor of the Senate. This will be like that.
- The underlying question before us is whether women are fully human. Scientific progress has made it possible for women to control their bodies; shall they?
- Whenever Kavanaugh’s vote is decisive, we will remember that this stolen vote was cast by an intemperate partisan, a liar and a drunkard who, in his youth, attempted to rape an acquaintance.
- This will not be forgotten, because it is impossible to forget.
- If women are to enjoy their own sexuality, they must have access to birth control and, in case of failure, to abortion. We also require a social convention that permits women to prevent or to end an unwanted relationship even if they are physically or socially weaker.
- The question does not readily admit to compromise. If preventing the conception of a potential child, or ending a pregnancy, is murder, then women are simply not as human as men.
- This question has now been settled; people will love whom they choose. Nevertheless, the Republican Party now controls the Supreme Court and intends to restrict access to birth control, to abortion, and to the voting booth.
- The damage to the Supreme Court will be swift, severe, and lasting. I doubt it will ever be repaired.
- Everyone will be involved. After Roe falls, we’ll be arranging secret trips to abortion-friendly states. After Griswold falls, we’ll be smuggling contraceptives into restrictionist states. There will be roadblocks at the state line. Republicans will pass more stringent laws and impose Draconian enforcement. We will have an Underground Railroad and a fugitive abortionist act.
- It’s still not going to be enough.
- One Republican senator might have delayed or derailed the confirmation of a judge who is an intemperate partisan, a liar and a drunkard who, in his youth, attempted to rape an acquaintance. Not one had the courage.
- A further consequence of this situation will likely be a formal schism of the Catholic Church. Many will blame Francis, but Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae leaves little room for maneuver. It might have been possible to temporize for another generation, but with everyone in the nation involved in the struggle, temporizing won’t work. Control of parochial schools is going to be a frightful mess.
- American Protestants will rediscover sectarianism. Once, the dividing line was the empty cross in the nave; now, it will be the rainbow at the door.
- Already, it’s very difficult to maintain amity across the divide. You can’t pal around with someone who thinks you or your friends are not quite human. I think I know three Republicans now. I’ve stayed friends with one (for some definition of “friend”) by cutting off all contact; for ten years we avoided religion and politics, and now we avoid everything. I didn’t know until today that the second held such opinions. The third is a professional political operative who is good at his job and can (so far) navigate these treacherous waters. Amateurs cannot.
- In the background, we have America’s concentration camps for toddlers. We have police who murder black folk with impunity. We have a revived and invigorated anti-Semitism and white supremacism supported by a political party gone mad. We have a government that plunders our environment for the benefit of a few, a government in the service of foreign dictators.
- Amity is nice, but decency is not optional. A judge who is an intemperate partisan, a liar and a drunkard is going to rule that women are not fully human; under the circumstances, many will choose to be decent, not amiable.
- We will be lucky to live through the storm. Many will not.
Update: The state represented by Preston Brooks, who assailed Charles Sumner, was South Carolina, not Kentucky.