Both the January 6 House Committee Hearings and several recent Supreme Court decisions have pulled away the American flag in which MAGA Nation has wrapped itself, to expose its anti-democratic reality: a resurgent bully culture dominated by predominantly white, patriarchal, religiously conservative extremists.
From the January 6 hearings we’ve learned the former President and his inner circle allied themselves with white nationalists, like The Proud Boys and the Oathkeepers among others, to obstruct justice and to interfere with the peaceful transition of power, i.e., an attempted coup.
And from the Supreme Court’s recent decisions, we’ve seen ultra-conservative, activist justices strip away women’s 14th Amendment equal rights protections; subordinate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state; and issue free license for gun owners to carry weapons in public.
When conservative Republicans blocked Merrick Garland’s rightful nomination to the Supreme Court, it facilitated Donald Trump’s subsequent stocking the Supreme Court with politically conservative judges that claim to divine the original intent of the Constitutional framers and try to superimpose an outdated 18th Century perspective upon our 21st Century world. In reality, they cherry pick and distort the language of the Constitution to impose their personal, political, and religious points of view upon a nation.
To that end, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito justifies overturning Roe v. Wade because “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion” and because such a right is not “deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.” The justification, however, seems arbitrary since Alito knows the Constitutional framers also did not intend the word “persons” to apply to women, Blacks, American natives, and people without property. In other words, the framers’ “original” intentions and language contained sexist, racist, and elitist biases.
Indeed, the framers themselves had foreseen the limits of their foresight when they wrote Article 5 of the Constitution that allows for Constitutional amendments, like the 14th Amendment, which, according to a previous Supreme Court decision, recognized women’s equal rights’ protection.
Nonetheless, according to Justice Alito’s legal philosophy, it’s perfectly legal to roll back a century and a half of established laws and legal precedents that protected the equality and privacy of women. So, in this case, the only thing the court majority considers “deeply rooted in the nation’s history and tradition” is treating women as second-class citizens.
And Justice Alito’s reasoning seems both inconsistent and ingenuous when he claims 14th Amendment protections don’t apply in the case of abortion since it destroys “a potential life.” To borrow Alito’s argument against the right to abortion, “The Constitution makes no reference” to the rights of “potential life.” Why the double standard?
And if Justice Alito intends to criminalize any act that threatens to destroy this “potential life,” it will mean prosecuting pregnant women who smoke, drink, consume drugs, etc. for child abuse or attempted murder. For that matter, if anyone smokes near the mother, that person should be criminally charged with threatening a “potential life.” Indeed, industries that pollute the air and earth would be criminally at fault for threatening “potential life” of all the unborn.
Yet, we don’t extend such protections even to the already born. The Court majority has absurdly granted legal protections to a fetus that it denies not only to the woman carrying the fetus, but to all born Americans.
It seems that rather than basing its opinions upon the language and intent of the framers, or on what’s “deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions,” it’s more reasonable and likely to conclude that a group of Christian ultra-conservative justices overturned a 50-year legal precedent based upon their personal, political, and religious beliefs.
Consider that the same court majority decided that taxpayers in Maine must fund a religious school; and that a Washington coach may lead a prayer with public students at a public-school event upon school grounds (Kennedy v Bremerton) despite The First Amendment stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” As Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in her dissent, the Establishment Clause of The First Amendment serves to prevent the government from “start”[ing] us down the path to the past.”
She was no doubt referring to historical religious persecution by a dominant religion over other faiths. Indeed, our Constitutional framers originally and intentionally established our national faith in reason, not in organized religion. In overturning Roe v. Wade, the Court has essentially targeted those who seek abortions in a modern witch hunt presently playing out across state lines.
Consider also that the present court majority claims to base its decisions upon the Constitution’s text but ignores the entire first phrase of the Second Amendment (“a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”) when it struck down a century old New York law prohibiting people from carrying guns in public. Or maybe the court considers a conglomerate of unorganized, unaffiliated, individuals with no mandated training, armed with everything from handguns to AR15 rifles, to be comparable to a “well-regulated Militia.”
Further, as Justice Breyer writes in his dissent, the decision to allow guns to be carried in public ignores entirely the reality that our society is averaging more than one mass shooting per day. So, while The court majority may claim to base its decisions on the letter of the law, in the wake of today’s many mass slaughters, they’re irresponsibly indifferent to both its spirit and reality by ignoring public safety.
Finally, we’ve learned from the January 6 Committee that MAGA World continues to attack and threaten those who try to defend the Constitution, the integrity of national institutions, and the nation’s ideals. Republican officials and state poll workers that refused both to participate in the attempted political coup on January 6 and to accept Trump’s “Big Lie” have faced threats of violence to their lives, homes, and families. In this way, too, we have returned to the days of witch hunts as MAGA Nation attempts to scapegoat all those pursuing our nation’s original purpose: to “form a more perfect union” with equality and justice for all.
The truth is that the MAGA political movement has wrapped itself in the American flag only to violate America’s original principles. And the Supreme Court conservative majority has become a handmaiden, not to those original principles but to MAGA. The reality of MAGA is tyranny dressed in democratic clothing.
Thomas Cangelosi of Avon is a retired teacher.