The Nation’s left-wing justice correspondent, Elie Mystal, blasted conservatives following Wednesday’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks, claiming they believe a fetus “should have the same legal rights as full-grown black people.”
Mystal made his comments during an appearance on the little-watched MSNBC show “The ReidOut,” hosted by Joy Reid, in response to the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which some observers believe could lead to an overturning of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case legalizing abortion in all states.
To begin the segment, Reid — who frequently casts conservatives as racists — claimed that those on the right prefer strict abortion laws that are as repressive as the Jim Crow laws were in the 1950s, many of which were passed by Democratic majorities.
“The justices were trying to, in a weaselly way, try to brand themselves as the heroes from the Brown vs. Board decision,” said Reid, a reference to another landmark ruling in 1954, in which the high court found that “separate but equal” segregation is unconstitutional. The ruling overturned a previous Supreme Court decision in 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson.
“To try to wrap themselves in Brown vs. Board. They love to quote Plessy. That’s one of the anti-abortion world’s famous things they love to go for,” Reid charged. “But they’re trying to wrap themselves in that because they understand that they are going against the vast majority of Americans’ will when they subject women to the, you know, vicissitudes of their state instead of states deciding what women do with their bodies.”
In fact, polling is all over the place on the issue: In June, an Associated Press survey found most Americans oppose abortion after the first trimester, while other recent polls appeared to show that most Americans want Roe to be kept in place.
Nevertheless, Mystal tried to frame the issue in terms of “full personhood rights.”
“Conservatives want you to think that a fetus – a fetus who is pre-viability, it means it cannot exist outside of its mother, it cannot live outside of, of the womb, has the same – should have the same legal rights as full-grown black people in this country,” he began.
“And that the fact that it doesn’t is some kind of miscarriage of justice – no pun intended – and that the people who shouldn’t have the full rights are the women who are carrying the fetus,” Mystal continued.
“Now, I can prove that a fetus is not deserving of full personhood rights because if it were, they would be arguing that the fetus should be given citizenship. They would be arguing that the fetus should have other rights like a right to education, a right to health care,” he noted further. “They would be arguing that I should be able to claim fetuses as dependents on my taxes, which you’ll note, they’re not.
“They’re only concerned about the right of a fetus when that right can be used to diminish the rights of women. And that is what the conservatives are all about on the Supreme Court,” he claimed. “That is what you heard in stark and I – I think you used the right word, offensive language throughout the court’s arguments today. But this is the day that conservatives have been planning for a generation.”
A post-argument analysis by Fox News identified some key moments during Wednesday’s hearing:
— Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the court’s liberals, asked Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart, who argued the case on behalf of his state, why the high court should disregard “stare decisis,” Latin for “to stand by things decided” — that is, why should the court overturn Roe, which was decided decades ago.
Stewart responded, essentially, by noting that advances in technologies and medicine since Roe make it necessary for states to decide on their own whether they want to permit the procedure.
— Chief Justice John Roberts, nominally a court conservative, indicated that he worries more cases from around the time of Roe could eventually be overturned as well.
“There are a lot of cases around the time of Roe, not of that magnitude, but the same type of analysis, that that went through exactly the sorts of things we today would say were erroneous,” Roberts said. “If we look at it from today’s perspective, it’s going to be a long list of cases that we’re going to say were wrongly decided.”
— That said, Roberts also questioned the lawyers arguing against the Mississippi law why 15 weeks was not enough time for a woman to decide on an abortion.
Lawyer Julie Rickelman, arguing on behalf of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said upholding the Mississippi law would lead to a “slippery slope” and that states would then pass more restrictive measures.
— Justice Samuel Alito, one of the court’s constitutional originalists, asked a pro-choice lawyer whether fetal viability ought to be the legal standard for abortion.
— Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Breyer clashed over whether or not the high court should overturn a previously decided case.
“History tells a somewhat different story, I think, than is sometimes assumed,” Kavanaugh said regarding stare decisis. “If you think about some of the most important cases in this court’s history … there’s a string of them where the cases overruled precedent.”
“They do not include the list that Justice Kavanaugh had here. … There are complex criteria that she’s talking about that link to the position in the rule of law of this court,” Breyer countered moments later. “All I would say is you have to read them before beginning to say whether they are overruling or not overruling in the sense meant there calling for special concern.”
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