AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan
As reactions from Friday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling continue to pour in, it has become evident that many conservatives have yet to realize that the good news resulting from the decision—which overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the nearly 50-year recognition of abortion as a constitutional right—goes far beyond the pro-life movement and protection of the unborn.
As monumental as the Dobbs decision is for unborn children and pro-life activists who have spent decades tirelessly working to overrule Roe and defend the right to life, Dobbs demonstrates that, for the first time in a generation, the Supreme Court is not controlled by justices who are chiefly concerned with their public image and reputation among left-wing journalists and mainstream media operatives. Ultimately, the Alito majority in Dobbs indicates that, despite his wishes, Chief Justice John Roberts’ efforts to alter the post-Roe majority and Taneyize the High Court have fallen flat—and that at long last, media control of American politics could very well be coming to an end.
As we have stated before, Roberts’ longstanding campaign to neglect the plain words of the Constitution and jeopardize the common good in favor of vague concepts like “fluidity in the middle” and sociopolitical “stability” on the Court have posed a unique series of threats to the American constitutional order and institutional legitimacy of the Court. A May 18th article—“Creeping Taneyism at the High Court: Can Roberts Alter Alito?”—compares Roberts to former Chief Justice Roger Taney, who authored the notorious 1857 Dred Scott decision (which held that black Americans were property while barring them from U.S. citizenship) in an attempt to maintain social and political harmony. The article outlines the ways in which Roberts has abandoned his previously stated constitutionalist principles, which were ultimately responsible for elevating him to the Court in 2005. (Others have since picked up on the Taneyist comparison—most notably The Federalist, which compared the pro-abortion Democrats of today to the pro-slavery Democrats of the 19th century, who held that black Americans possess no rights.)
Even more startling, though, is the description of Roberts as a historical example of an era—one that the Dobbs decision shows is at last fading—when the acts of public officials were frequently controlled by how they thought they might be perceived by a handful of newspapers and broadcast networks. Roberts has a long record of concern, if not obsession, with his media image and that of the Court’s. His use—whether at The Atlantic or CBS News—of interviews or informally sanctioned articles by favored reporters was not only to boost his own public perception, but also to lay the groundwork for his own decisions that delivered unexpected victories to progressives and their partisan media allies, particularly on issues like Obamacare. Roberts’ reasoning—as it was in his Dobbs opinion—was based not on the law, but rather on puffy Taney-esque talk about the grandness of the law and the Court and the need for social adjudication.
However, as we noted last month, the Court’s ability to withstand Roberts’ pressure campaign in Dobbs will go a long way in enhancing the Court’s reputation—most notably by way of proving that leftist intimidation tactics do not work, that the legal doctrine of stare decisis is not sacrosanct, that law schools can be restored to their rightful place in American life, and that Roberts’ public relations-oriented jurisprudence no longer dominates the Court’s institutional authority.
Above all, the Dobbs decision suggests that conservatives’ long-standing frustration with Republican-appointed but media-obsessed justices in the mold of Roberts or Anthony Kennedy (derided by one Reagan-era official as “a DC social climber, not a jurist”) is over—and that the failures of Roberts’ Taneyist jurisprudence could prove to be permanent. If Roberts had had his way and the Court had subserviently taken its marching orders from the elites of America’s ruling class rather than looking to the Constitution and delegating power back to the American people, Roe would still be the law of the land. But with Friday’s decision, the Supreme Court signaled that the arbiter of our national politics is no longer the media—but the American people.
Another key component of Friday’s historic victory is that three of the five justices in the Dobbs majority owe their appointment to the Court to the American people, who stood bravely by their side when all odds were against them. In fact, the Alito majority came to fruition thanks in large part to the 2016 election of former President Donald Trump, who pledged to nominate and confirm constitutionalist judges who would resist the tides of left-wing judicial activism and issue decisions based on the law as written, rather than to the whims of popular opinion and demands of the ruling class. “Thanks to the courage found within the United States Supreme Court, this long divisive issue will be decided by the states and by the American People themselves. That’s the way it should have been many years ago, and that’s the way it will be now,” Trump said the day after the release of the decision in a speech in Mendon, Illinois.
Though it is of course difficult to overstate the groundbreaking significance of Dobbs for the pro-life cause and unborn children, its magnitude extends far beyond the protection of innocent life. To the chagrin of the Chief Justice and the mainstream media, the Supreme Court is no longer the Roberts Court—and Taneyism is no longer the driving force behind it.
In the end, rule of law, the endurance of American institutions, and the Court itself will be bolstered and immeasurably strengthened by Friday’s decision. And every American who cherishes the right to life, believes in the American constitutional order, and embraces the rule of law should rejoice in that fact.