The Court Has Completely Destroyed Its Own Legitimacy

It is a week for mourning certainly.

We mourn the loss of an important Supreme Court case that would have protected women in abortion clinics. We mourn the inevitable loss of life that will be the direct result of this decision, the lives of unborn children but also women who would have otherwise had at least a modicum of additional protection from that ghastly enterprise.

But we also mourn the rule of law and a Supreme Court whose credibility has been hanging by the thinnest of threads for some time.

This court has taken upon itself the role of “the country’s ex-officio medical board with powers to approve or disapprove medical and operative practices and standards throughout the United States,” in the memorable words of Justice Byron White.

What’s more, according to the dissents in the case, the Court ignored its own rules of procedure to allow the plaintiffs to win. Plaintiffs are not allowed to bring the same case twice, which these plaintiffs were allowed to do.

The Court also did not require them to make their case that the Texas law—requiring abortionists to get admitting privileges at the local hospital and requiring the facility to meet basic standards for surgery facilities—actually closed abortion clinics. The abortionists said the new laws would force them to close and that was enough for the ideologues on the Court. No need to provide evidence to make your case: we believe you!

Moreover, isn’t it odd that the Supreme Court let a wealthy industry off the hook of state regulations with the claim they couldn’t afford it. I wonder if this is an absolute first in the annals of the Supreme Court.

Justice Thomas, may he live forever, wrote in his dissent, “Unless the Court abides by one set of rules to adjudicate constitutional rights, it will continue reducing constitutional law to policy-driven value judgements until the last shreds of its legitimacy disappear.” Note he said “last shreds,” which implies most of the shreds are already gone, which, of course, they are.

It is so distasteful to continuously consider and write about these distasteful people. In a properly ordered democracy, we shouldn’t even know their names let alone hang upon their every grunt and utterance.

As we mourn all these things, though, let us also remember and celebrate someone whose name is not known to you but he is the man who thought all this up. He was the man whose idea it was to regulate abortion out of business. Mike Schwartz was his name and he died almost exactly three years ago from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Mike Schwartz was one of the country’s first pro-life soldiers and eventually one of our most important generals.

In college at the University of Dallas he helped form one of the very first pro-life groups in the country, the Sons of Thunder. With a name like that you can guess what they might have done first. They invaded an abortion clinic and all got arrested.

He helped found the March for Life. He worked for Paul Weyrich at the Free Congress Foundation, a group that split off from the Heritage Foundation because of Heritage’s reluctance to do pro-life work. For a long time, he was Legislative Director for Concerned Women for America. He worked for Tom Coburn in the US House and became his Chief of Staff in the Senate.

Mike was a salty saint. He would spend hours talking to homeless guys and he would know their names. He carried books of theology around with him and read them whenever there was a spare minute. He always had time for anyone and everyone who came into his path.

And he could talk the bluest of blue streaks at “gutless Republicans in the U.S. Senate” and “that band of criminals on the U.S. Supreme Court.” His lips would thin across bared teeth and he would call it the “Roe v. Wade Hate Crimes Against the Human Race Decision.”

I can hear him today enraged at what that band of criminals decided this week. But he would also chuckle because the whole process, even though we lost, for now, has been quite remarkable and has resulted in the other side spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, and actually ended up closing clinics by the butchers not interested in making women safer. The whole process has educated the public, put big abortion under a microscope and made them, once more, defend the indefensible.

Mike thought all this out. He was the most tactical man you ever met.

For years he talked about outlawing abortion by eliminating it. By that he meant that if Roe went down today, abortion would still be legal and killing babies in most if not all the states. He meant that abortion had to be small enough so you could drown it in a bucket of water.

“When the total number of commercial abortions is no greater than 100,000 and the total number of abortion shops is less than 100, then we can say that the cancer has been shrunk sufficiently to cut it out,” he taught.

Before he died Mike put the distillation of a lifetime of thinking and acting into a single memo and handed it out to other leaders in the pro-life movement. I wish I still had mine. It is around here somewhere.

He said Churches should pray each Sunday for the local abortionist by name. He said all abortion clinic workers should be bonded so as to expose the criminal past of so many of them. He wanted to establish an Abortion Injury Compensation Fund to be funded by a tax on all abortions.

He said abortion clinics should be made into ambulatory surgical centers, knowing full well that it would force them to spend huge sums to do it.

And he said all abortion clinic doctors should be made to get admitting privileges at the local hospital. What Mike knew and what recent history has shown is most of these killers are unsavory characters who simply cannot get admitting privileges, which for any doctor are remarkably easy to get.

In the past few years more than 200 such laws have been enacted by heroic pro-life legislators all over the country. And hundreds of clinics have closed.

Mike would be furious today and he would rail against the Court and he would rail against big abortion and he would rail against the gutless Republicans who allowed all of this to happen and it would be wonderful to watch him in full rail.

Then he would say the Rosary, sharpen his pencil, and start chuckling as he came up with a dozen new and inventive ways to end abortion.

Austin Ruse

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Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Center for Family & Human Rights). His forthcoming book Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data—out this summer from Regnery Publishing—contains a chapter on marriage and family. He is also the author of the new book Little Suffering Souls: Children Whose Short Lives Point Us to Christ just published by Tan Books.

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