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There's a lot of like or , like, there's a bunch of stuff that is in that docket that people aren't paying very close attention to. Questions of statutory interpretation, like: this railroad regulation does it apply when the railroad is hauling lumber but not coal? Like things like that. But on these big monumental cases it has been reliably pretty clear which side different nominees are going to be on.

And then they got on the court and they're on that side. Neil Gorsuch has not been a disappointment to the conservatives that wanted him appointed. He's ruled with the conservatives.

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There's one issue before the court that's the biggest issue. And the reason it's the biggest issue is because it's probably the most intimate way in which the decisions of the Supreme Court and particularly nine individuals, and particularly in this case one man will alter the lives of millions of people and specifically women in this country. And that of course is abortion. In , Roe v. Wade is decided by the court. It holds there as a constitutional protection to the right to privacy that allows one to choose to determine whether or not to terminate a pregnancy and that that zone of autonomy is protected by the Constitution.

It is followed by a massive backlash and social mobilization against it; another case in the s called Casey that reaffirms it but limits it, and then a multi decade war on abortion rights and a multi decade defense of abortion rights by two of the most mobilized motivated forces in American politics, the self-described pro-life movement and the self-described pro-choice movement. We now are at a precipice. Anthony Kennedy was one of the people that voted to uphold Roe and he's gone, and there are pretty clearly four votes on the court right now that would either overturn Roe or just severely gut it, and the next justice would provide them with a majority.

There's good reason to think Brett Kavanaugh would be that person. And so, I thought it's a good time to take a hard look at what we're talking about when we're talking about Roe. What are we talking about when we're talking about the right to an abortion in this country and the Supreme Court's record on it and its decisions on it, and what should we make of the upcoming confirmation battle about this individual who very well could be the deciding vote on whether tens of millions of American citizens do or do not have bodily autonomy to choose to carry to term or to terminate a pregnancy?

Those are the stakes before us right now. You can probably tell, to reference my earlier point, where I would be on the Supreme Court on this question. I have not thought about it at all. I just don't really have opinions on this. I just, I'm a balls and strikes guy.

I just get in there. I see the balls, I see the strikes. Call the balls. I call the strikes.

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Never really thought about Roe. That is actually what's going to happen. As ridiculous as it is, and so I thought, "I want to talk to someone who knows abortion, abortion rights litigation better than anyone," and that person, in my mind, is Nancy Northup. Nancy is an absolute top flight advocate litigator. I think it's fair to say like they do the most front edge litigation for abortion rights in the country. When there's a new law in Mississippi is going to close down the only clinic, like Center for Reproductive Rights is suing. When Texas passes a new law that is going to hammer a bunch of their clinics Center for Reproductive Rights is there.

They have been at the front lines, they've argued in District Court, Appellate Court, I think they'd been before the Supreme Court and they know the ins and outs of this battle from a legal perspective, not from the political perspective, not necessarily from the religious perspective. But like what actually the courts are saying about what this right means and how that right is or is not protected.


They know it down to the last dot, and never has that knowledge been more important than at this moment, because that right is on the table. It just is. There's all sorts of people that are going to tell you it's not or that like, oh, whatever. They always say, "They're going to overturn Roe, they're going to overturn Roe," or, "Liberals or panicking," or, "This is scaremongering. The math here is extremely clear.

It's staring everyone in the face and we could be on the precipice of one of the greatest, and to my mind, most destructive social reversals in the country's history. That's what we could be looking at. And as we head into that period, think about it. I think it's really important for everyone who cares about this issue, to have some real grounding and clarity in what exactly the legal history of the protection of this right is.

And so that's why I learned so much from my conversation today with Nancy Northup. I worked for the Rhode Island women's political caucus and went down to the Rhode Island capital and would talk to legislators there about the need to make sure that women had access to safe and legal abortion.

When Abortion Was a Crime

And so that was always just something that was part of my upbringing. I grew up all over the country, small town in Texas and California, born in Indiana, raised in western New York, little bit in Connecticut and it was just a constant. I was raised as a Unitarian Universalist and it was important in my religious community that we support women's rights.

And so that just is how it was always part of what I advocated for. Now, let's start with Roe. There's a lot of things that are really interesting to me about Roe. One is that it's a decision. Am I right? When it came down, it was not the wars we see today over it. States had been talking about the need to liberalize their abortion laws.

It was understood in the context of public health. You talked to any doctor who went through their residency before Roe v. Wade and they all knew that the obstetrics wards, emergency wards were filled with women who had attempted to have unsafe abortions. So they knew it was a public health issue. People knew people who had to go through, you know, enormous difficulty if they were not in one of the very small number of states that had legalized abortion.

So it was understood as this public health problem that had to be corrected and that women would need to have access and that it was part of healthcare.

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Like what you're describing is a policy argument. I mean, there's a legal challenge that's brought. What's the substance of the legal challenge? I mean, there's a law banning the anonymous plaintiff in this case from getting an abortion. And what's her argument before the court about why that's unconstitutional? So in the s you began to have the challenge to laws that didn't even allow married couples to use contraception.

The first law being Griswold v. Connecticut that came to the Supreme Court in and in Connecticut it was not legal for married couples to use contraception. And in that case the Supreme Court looked at his rulings and a lot of areas and came to the conclusion, first resting heavily in that case on the privacy of marriage, that couples had to be able to make the decision about whether or not to use contraception. And then in the next case in Eisenstadt v. Baird in the early 70s, the court said, "Well, you know, it's not just about married people. It's about the ability to make the decision whether and when to have children.

Wade comes along in , the next year, the court has already been understanding that this decision about when and whether to have children is one for the woman to make. And so when they decide Roe, it's an extension of those cases they'd already been looking at in the area of contraception. It's a bad decision. And you know, even liberals will concede that Roe not a good decision on the law.

What do you think of that? If you think about it, Roe actually you need to pull back and it is part of, along with the cases that came after it, a hundred years of decisions around personal liberty and family that go back to the s. So you have about 50 years of case law before Roe v.