As the Supreme Court begins another session, speculation is rife about how it will decide the abortion, guns and religious issues now before it.

Will the court expand or limit a woman’s right to choose? How about access to guns? Will it again decide religious belief can justify socially destructive behaviors like it did when it upheld the right of churches to serve as COVID super-spreaders during the pandemic? (nytimes.com)

Heavily laden with conservative justices as the court is, such questions are understandable, and while prediction is most often a mugs game, this court’s recent history does offer some hints of things to come.

The court’s conservative majority already eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, knocked more bricks out of the wall separating church and state by requiring states to fund scholarships for students in private religious schools (theconversation.com), and recently allowed the newly minted Texas anti-abortion law to stand.

The two words commonly applied to conservative Constitutional jurisprudence, “textualism” and “originalism,” imply a close reading of a Constitution first ratified in 1789 answers all questions raised by life in 21st century America.

But many forget that our Constitution was forged in a society where voting rights were limited to propertied white men, then about 6% of the population. (wikipedia.com)

In an era when women and people of color are also full-fledged participants in the democratic process, it’s no wonder we can often hear the social fabric rip when the Supreme Court Originalists hand down one of their retrograde decisions.

Holding to such a simplistic vision of an 18th-century judicial Eden, when our new nation was a mere toddler first rising to its feet, the Supreme Court’s conservatives have already proven they make very poor tailors for our vastly more developed, populous, diverse, intricate and, yes, democratic 21st.

Ken Winkes

Conway

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