The Haven
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The Haven


Supreme Court Precedents Are Settled Law

“Not counting the ones we unsettled last week.”

Photo by Prachatai/Flickr

The conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court have announced they’re blowing off the first four months of the next term. The reason is that they met at Ginni and Clarence’s house last Saturday, and overturned enough laws which right-wingers hate to justify not coming to work until January.

Amy Coney Barrett came up with idea. It was her first day on the court. The new group photo had been taken. The gang had given her the traditional “Welcome aboard” fist-bumps. Then the liberal justices headed for the break room to watch “Live With Kelly And Ryan.”

That’s when Amy pulled the conservative justices into a huddle and laid out the game plan. They had a bullet-proof majority. They knew which precedents they were going to overturn; the Republican National Committee had given them a list. Why wait for cases which will give them excuses to do it? It could take years for them to bubble up from the lower courts. They could lose the majority in the mean time. Clarence is already wearing extra legal briefs because he can’t “clutch his mud.” And “Beer Barrel” Brett’s liver may not survive the next Superbowl party. They should meet up at somebody’s house, and overturn some precedents now.

So it was that the Conservatives gathered on a Saturday afternoon at the Thomas residence. It was the obvious choice: if Clarence needed to express an opinion, Ginni would be there to give him one.

They began with a couple softballs: Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which legalized consensual sex between same-sex adults; and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which allowed gay marriage. They didn’t bother discussing them; they just overturned them with a voice vote. Justice Kavanaugh pencil-whipped the opinion on the back of an envelope. For a justification, he cited the Paul McCartney Principle: Redire, Redire, Redire In Quo Eras Ante (get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged).

Next, the Conservatives disposed of a couple cases Republicans had whined about for decades. In Abington School District v. Schemp (1963), a school had required students to listen to Bible verses at the start of each day. In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), schools forced students to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance. The Courts back then had ruled those practices unconstitutional. The Conservatives overturned their decisions. Henceforth, public schools could require students to read scripture, pray, recite the Pledge, and salute the flag. Justice Gorsuch justified the decision by citing Uno Modo Vel Alio, Nos Ire Ad Capto-Vos5, also known as the Blondie Doctrine (one way, or another, we’re gonna get ya, we’re gonna get ya get ya get ya get ya).

The Conservatives slipped in one more overturning before taking a bio break. This was Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), in which a man charged with petty larceny had to represent himself because he couldn’t afford an attorney. He lost and was sentenced to five years in prison. The Court ruled that indigent defendants must be provided with an attorney to get a fair trial. The Conservatives overruled them. If a defendant couldn’t afford a lawyer, wrote Justice Roberts, they were Cacas Nullam Fortunam (shit outta luck).

The justices stopped at this point to congratulate themselves. This was so damned easy. No having to read fifty-page, dry-as-dust briefs presenting the petitioner’s position, the respondent’s position, the petitioner’s rebuttal, the respondent’s rebuttal, and amicus opinions by everyone and their Aunt Martha. No oral arguments by grandstanding lawyers. Nor by ones who droned on with run-on sentences that were more boring than federal tax code. No discussing the cases afterwards with dull-witted clerks. Nor with each other in Justices’ Conferences, which Amy hated because the guys always stuck her with the role of “scribe.” And no writing opinions, which was more excruciating than the homework in their college Creative Writing classes.

Besides, it was all a waste of time. The Conservatives knew how they’d decide a case before it hit the docket. Sure, they told the public they were “loose constructionists,” “strict constructionists,” “judicial restrainters,” “judicial activists,” “textualists,” “originalists,” or “living constitutionalists.” In truth, they ruled the way their fellow Republicans told them to. That is, they followed the Lesley Gore Rule: Hoc Est Meum Celebrationem; Liberales Potest Clamare Si Velint (It’s my party; Liberals can cry if they want to).

The Conservatives had to go through the motions when there’d been only five of them, and Roberts couldn’t be trusted because he’s a snowflake. But now they had an iron-clad six-three majority. They could drop the pretense of reading briefs. Listening to arguments. Interpreting the Constitution. Which none of them had read since law school — and Clarence had used Cliffs Notes®.

With that, the Conservatives went back to making a mockery of stare decisis. They focussed on a high priority for red-state lawmakers: imprisoning women who use abortifacients — drugs which induce abortions. Some of them do so by design: mifepristone and misoprostol, for example. For others, it’s a side-effect. The anthelmintics (dewormers), for instance, of which the best-known is ivermectin, because conspiracy theorists wrongly believe it’s a treatment for Covid. Which can create an ironic situation. Say a pregnant pro-life anti-vaxxer in a red state tries to cure her Covid with ivermectin. If she survives but experiences a miscarriage, she could go to jail for performing an abortion.

An intrauterine device, on the other hand, is not an abortifacient. It’s a contraceptive. Once implanted in a woman’s uterus, it leaches copper which causes the cervical mucus to gum up and smother sperm. Thus, an IUD does not abort a fertilized egg; it prevents an egg from being fertilized in the first place.

Unfortunately, red-state legislatures have gotten it into their heads that IUDs are abortifacients. They also think fertilized eggs are people, and therefore have a person’s rights, privileges, and protections. Not all of them: a fertilized egg isn’t old enough to drink alcohol or vote. But they think it’s old enough to buy a gun. The point is, red-state legislators believe IUDs are abortifacients, IUDs kill people, and women who use them should be prosecuted for murder.

But the legislators had a problem: how to obtain the evidence needed to arrest and convict women?

The Conservative justices gave them a solution. First, they killed Mapp v. Ohio (1961). Mapp prevented police from obtaining and using evidence in violation of a defendant’s rights. The Conservatives overturned Mapp; evidence obtained unlawfully could now be used.

Next, they allowed police to search women without probable cause. They did it by amending a lower court ruling in Floyd v. City of New York (1999). Floyd pertained to an NYPD practice of detaining and searching people its officers suspected of committing crimes. It’s called “stop and frisk,” and it’s legal. However, the police mainly stopped and frisked Black Americans. That’s “profiling,” and a U. S. District Court halted it. The Conservatives overturned their ruling and made profiling legal. Now, cops could pull a woman over just for DWV (Driving With a Vagina).

Finally, the Conservatives modified Terry v. Ohio (1968). Terry made it legal to “stop and frisk” people. The justices tweaked Terry to let cops stop and frisk their body parts.

In his opinion, Justice Alito used one justification to overturn all three cases. It was the Wicked Witch Rule: I Ulciscar In Te, Amica Mea, Et Tua Modicum Uterus Similiter (I’ll get you my pretty, and your little uterus too).

Ever since the Conservatives published their rulings, red-state legislatures have worked overtime to draft laws which criminalize IUDs.

Red-state police departments, on the other hand, are struggling with how to enforce the laws. Louisiana cops can’t figure out how execute a no-knock warrant on a vagina. Oklahoma police don’t know how to stop and frisk a uterus, and if they can get by with just a pat-down. Texas Rangers have been issued speculums, but there have been training accidents because they carry the speculums on their belts next to their tasers.

Alabama detectives aren’t comfortable with helping witnesses pick a cooch out of a mug book or lineup. Their crime scene technicians don’t want to dust a vajayjay for prints. Police artists would rather not try to sketch a suspicious hoo-haa. And the cops want to know how to recognize a fugitive vag in a disguise. It might alter its appearance by shaving, letting it’s hair grow, or changing the color. For now, the best they can do is compare the carpet to the drapes.

Mississippi police are the only ones who have made progress. They crafted a Miranda Warning for when, in their words, they “need to put the cuffs on a lady’s baby baker.” The warning goes like this. “Your uterus has the right to remain silent. Anything it says can and will be used against it in a court of law. Your uterus has a right to an attorney. If it’s experiencing a heavy flow, it also has a right to a menstrual pad. If it cannot afford them, a lawyer and a cheap Kotex® will be provided before questioning.”

The Conservative justices couldn’t care less about these problems. They’d been groomed throughout their careers to end abortion the first chance they got. Their advancement in universities, law firms, and the judiciary had depended on it. Now they controlled the Supreme Court, and they were determined to come through for their side. So what if Susan Collins and others accused them of lying during their confirmation hearings, when they’d declared the sanctity of stare decisis. They hadn’t lied. They’d just used a bit of lawyerly sleight-of-hand known as Irrumabo Eos Si Non Possunt Non Iocus. Or as its known in English, “F*ck ’em if they can’t take a joke.”



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Miss Catherine La Grange, spinster

Miss Catherine La Grange, spinster


Retired high school social studies teacher in Michigan’s Up North. I’m a Presbyterian spinster, but I’m no Angel.