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Sunday, October 1, 2023

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News + PoliticsThe Supreme Court loses all legitimacy—and so does the US Senate

The Supreme Court loses all legitimacy—and so does the US Senate

And why are SF pols so willing to take money from the people who empowered Trump and McConnell and doomed Roe v. Wade?


So many things to say about the horror of the Roe v. Wade ruling, which we knew was coming but is still stunning.

Let’s start with the reality that nobody can ever say that this court, dominated by Republican appointees, is anything but a political operation. Judicial nominees love to say, as Chief Justice John Roberts once told the Senate, that the role of a judge is to “call balls and strikes,” not to make new rules.

June 13 rally in DC. Wikimedia Commons image by Frypie

We all knew that wasn’t true, and now we have by far the most overtly political court in my lifetime. Law, as a concept, doesn’t matter. Precedent doesn’t matter. Facts don’t matter. This is a Trumpian Court, that will bend any reality to fit the proscribed outcome.
Which is terrifying: None of the civil rights that have been part of this country for decades are safe. This court has already messed with Miranda. It’s turned the country into an armed camp with almost anyone able to carry a gun.

Justice Clarence Thomas wants to get rid of same-sex marriage and even access to contraception.

The court no longer has any legitimacy—and neither do the so-called centrist Democrats and Republicans who signed off on Trump’s appointments.

Yesterday, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said that Brett Kavanaugh had “misled” her about his stance on Roe. That’s a pretty weak word; it appears he directly lied, to a US Senator. And she fell for it. And now she’s not going to do anything about it (lying to a member of the US Senate could easily be considered an impeachable offense).

That is: Either she’s completely naïve, and believed someone who everyone else knew way lying, or she knew all along and decided that lives of millions of women didn’t really matter.

The confirmation “hearings” have become a joke. The Democrats might as well accept that, and stop pretending that there’s any reason to go along with the scam. This is a process where Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, try to impose their radical right agenda on the country, under the guise of fair judicial appointments, and the Democrats could have stopped it if they were willing to stand up to the lies.

Or they could admit they are throwing in the towel.

There’s an important local angle, here, too, and we can’t forget it. Some of the same folks who funded the recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and who have been funding “moderate” Democrats for local office, helped make it possible for McConnell to transform the court and destroy abortion rights.

William Oberndorf was one of the leading funders of the recall effort. He was also a major funder of an effort to support allies of Mayor London Breed and block progressives from getting elected to the Board of Supervisors.

And he’s a major donor to McConnell’s GOP Senate efforts.

Dede Wilsey, who held a fundraiser for Trump in San Francisco, was another big donor.

You can’t denounce the McConnell agenda, which is a massive threat to all of us and everything that most San Francisco elected officials oppose, and still side with Oberndorf and take his money on local issues.


At this point, groups like Neighbors for a Better San Francisco are funded by supporters and enablers of the radical right GOP agenda. And anyone who takes their money or is supported by their independent expenditure committees needs to be held to account for it.

Retired Superior Court Judge Ellen Chaitin put it this way:

Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the architect of the Roe reversal, scored his long-plotted victory by blocking President Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court and shepherding Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett’s appointments to the Supreme Court, guaranteeing the Roe reversal. Bill Oberndorf, the main funder of Chesa Boudin’s recall who donated more than $600,000, has donated multi-millions to Mitch McConnell. As much as the recall has tried to cleanse itself from this taint, they have empowered a right-wing agenda. The cynical voices of the recall should be ashamed of themselves. It’s tragic.

I will say one last thing: I still believe Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump. And if he had won the nomination, and the Democratic Party machinery had gotten behind him, this nightmare would never have happened.

We will, of course, never know.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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