August 13, 2022

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Supreme Court putting America back on track

4 min read

The hard left has gone hysterical about recent Supreme Court rulings. Like former President Donald Trump and Stacey Abrams, it can’t bear losing.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court extricated itself — at least for now — from making abortion policy by tossing Roe v. Wade.

The court curtailed the arrogation of congressional lawmaking authority by executive branch agencies in West Virginia v. EPA. It effectively told the federal agency it can’t use a vague provision of an old statute to write sweeping regulations for a new problem — in this case, force utilities to retrofit or junk old coal and gas-fired plants to promote green energy — without Congress passing a new law.

Other decisions will force state and local governments to have more compelling purposes and surgically-targeted remedies when infringing on constitutional rights.   

In Kennedy v. Bremerton and Carson v. Makin, the court effectively derailed the anti-religion public education establishment by saying it’s OK for teachers and students to engage in private prayer, and states can’t discriminate against church-sponsored schools if they give assistance to private schools generally.

In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen it said the right to keep and bear arms is just that — what good is a gun if you can’t carry it to protect yourself in a place like Chicago?

New York and Connecticut have some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but those did not prevent mass shootings in Buffalo and Sandy Hook.

Progressives are reacting like spoiled royals whose divine right has been expropriated by a violent mob. The fact is progressives have grown accustomed to using the courts to circumvent the legislative process — and the consent of the governed — to violate constitutional rights on abortion and gender issues, racial preferences, gun rights, climate change and broader economic regulation.

On abortion, research shows women denied abortions are less likely to finish school and enjoy financial success. That would be compelling if this were the 1960s, but nowadays contraception is easily accessed. 

The pro-choice movement will develop effective machinery to help women travel from conservative states to more promiscuous jurisdictions.

Dobbs won’t much change the incidence of abortions. It will require state legislatures or Congress to speak on the issue and weigh competing perspectives on what should be legal as a fetus emerges into a human being.

What hyperventilating progressives demonstrating outside the Supreme Court refuse to acknowledge is that consistently for five decades about 50% of registered voters have said abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances. 

The mainstream media would like you to think similar mobs around the country represent a majority when in fact they don’t even represent a plurality of public opinion.

The court’s conservative majority is not leading a mad charge to reactionary values, but rather taking the country back to first principles that the Constitution was designed to support — private property rights, free and competitive markets, and limited government essential to personal liberty.

This does not mean blind trust in self-interest, business and unfretted capitalism — or that constitutionally guaranteed rights are absolute — but it does require that when governments encroach on our liberty they do so with a compelling purpose, minimum intrusion and reasonable prospects their actions will accomplish their objectives. And when competing values and moral judgments are at play, legislators accountable to the people write the rules, not jurists with lifetime appointments.

The Supreme Court does not need to subvert the Constitution to guarantee women’s freedoms. They are the majority of voters, and no state legislature or Congress could get away with banning birth control — the true foundation of women’s reproductive rights.

In all the histrionics about recent decisions, the left forgot to mention that the Supreme Court affirmed President Biden’s decision to end returning asylum seekers to Mexico while they await a hearing. Mexico’s cooperation is necessary, and the Constitution assigns foreign policy to the president.

Conservatives are very disappointed, but they must take their lumps too.

The most consequential recent ruling was West Virginia v. EPA, not Dobbs. Too much failure in the U.S. economy emanates from executive bureaucrats meddling without legitimate authority or reasoned purpose.

Americans generally recognize the electrical grid must go green and the automobile go electric. Utilities and automakers are moving as fast as they can, and it’s simply foolish to mandate conversion and retirement of polluting plants, strip oil companies of leases for drilling, boost severance taxes and force the mothballing of refineries.

Those accomplish few real benefits on CO2 emissions but impose substantially higher gas prices and inflation throughout the economy.

All the Supreme Court is doing is forcing the major players in the drama called America to stick to their assigned rolls, stay in lane and let the American people build a better society through their imagination, enterprise and reasoned choices.

• Peter Morici is an economist, emeritus business professor at the University of Maryland, and national columnist.

Peter Morici
2022-07-12 18:32:12

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