On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court by 6 to 3 overturned the right to abortion established almost 50 years ago in the Roe v. Wade decision. Over half the states had abortion bans ready to enact or will soon.
Based on the precedent set by this ruling, the court also threw into doubt the future of same-sex marriage, bodily autonomy for trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people, the right to contraception, and the right to love who you want, free of laws banning queer and interracial relationships.
The theft of a fundamental, popular right from women and other people who can become pregnant – more than half the population– garnered the most attention. But in the last two weeks of June the court unleashed an avalanche of reactionary decisions repealing the rights of workers and oppressed people:
- Police are no longer required to inform suspects of their Miranda rights against self-incrimination;
- Two major blows against the separation of church and state, allowing government funding for religious schools and school staff to lead prayer in public schools;
- Undermined the sovereignty of Indigenous nations established in treaties with the U.S. government;
- Severely limited federal agencies’ authority to regulate corporate polluters, effectively gutting the federal government’s ability to mount any response to climate change;
- In a “shadow docket” case, the court upheld the right of right-wing state governments to gerrymander voting districts to minimize Black and Brown voters;
- Additional rulings supporting police brutality, limiting the rights of prisoners to challenge their convictions and immigrants to challenge their detention; and more. (Read a complete breakdown on this Twitter thread.)
The coup enacted by the unelected, appointed-for-life Supreme Court is sweeping. It is no exaggeration to say these decisions taken together have completely upended the social and political landscape of everyday life in the U.S. Each ruling was crafted to have a domino effect which will have consequences we cannot fully know at this time.
Already the court has announced plans for further attacks. Its next docket will include a case arguing that states should have control over the results of federal elections, which could allow state governments to decide the 2024 presidential election. Another that threatens to gut the Indian Child Welfare Act that put an end to the official policy of kidnapping Indigenous children and putting them up for adoption.
Big money campaign
The Supreme Court coup moves in tandem with legislation and executive orders by far-right state governments aimed at Black voting rights, immigrants, trans people and the rest of the LGBTQ2S community, reproductive freedom, freedom of information and the ability of teachers to share any scrap of truth about real U.S. history.
The states’ legislative offensive produces the cases that allow the Supreme Court to strike down people’s rights.
Another component is the growing violence of fascist gangs – from the ballooning budgets of official police stormtroopers to the Buffalo, New York, mass shooting of African Americans to the widespread attacks on Pride events by the Proud Boys, Patriot Front and other armed fascist gangs.
This highly coordinated and richly funded campaign amounts to a counter-revolution against the gains won by the blood and sacrifice of generations of workers and oppressed peoples, from the Civil Rights Movement to the women’s movement, the LGBTQ2S movement, the labor movement and beyond.
More attacks are promised, including an attempt to enact a nationwide abortion ban if Republicans take control of Congress next year.
Hollow U.S. democracy crumbles
The institutions of U.S. capitalism have always been a source of hollow promises for poor and working people – at best, capable of granting crumbs that are always in danger of being swept away.
But now those institutions, including the Democratic Party, have proven themselves completely unable to defend even the most basic rights of the people and functions of bourgeois democracy. Each day, they bow and scrape to the far-right onslaught of the ruling class.
The Democrats cling to the trappings of power by carrying out the capitalists’ demands for more war, sanctions and funds for killer cops, while ignoring the desperate pleas of the communities who voted for them and whom they claim to represent.
The Supreme Court dropped reactionary decision after reactionary decision against the backdrop of Democratic-led Congressional hearings about Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. But with each day that passes, it becomes clearer that the hearings are a show meant to give the appearance that the Democrats are actually doing something – even while they ignore the disaster unfolding around them NOW.
Biden and the Democratic leadership in Congress have much power to push back against the Supreme Court on abortion rights. But the president has already signaled that he’s thrown in the towel, trotting out his Health Secretary to claim there is no “magic bullet” to save abortion access – despite Biden and the Democrats having the power to declare a national health emergency, abolish the filibuster and much more. We must not let them off the hook!
Democrats are opportunistically using the Supreme Court’s attack on abortion rights to raise money and promote voting as the solution. But reliance on voting for Democrats and abandoning the independent struggle is what got people’s movements into this mess.
As was clear to anyone attending anti-court protests or Pride events in recent days, people are fed up with the Democrats’ lies and are opening their eyes to the reality that this party serves the rich and powerful, not the people. Revolutionaries must provide the masses with an alternative.
We need a political fightback!
High-tech, “liberal,” “socially conscious” companies like Starbucks, Amazon, Tesla, Netflix, Facebook, Google, etc., are turning more and more in the direction of the ultra-right as workers fight for their rights and decent working conditions.
Heroic organizing drives from below at Amazon and Starbucks have inspired workers at many other non-union companies to begin their own fight for union rights. This work is absolutely essential to the fight against the ultra-right coup. It must continue and grow.
But by itself it is not enough. The struggle for union rights and economic demands has to be accompanied by a national, political fightback movement – independent of the capitalist parties – with clear demands and goals.
We must not only fight to push back the attacks on democratic rights, but struggle for political power and new forms of governance that invest power in the people, not the banks, corporate monopolies and landlords.
First of all, the undemocratic institutions rooted in slavery – the Supreme Court and Electoral College – must be abolished.
We must raise demands that address the most urgent life-and-death needs of millions, like a rollback on food and fuel prices, an end to rent-gouging, a minimum wage of $25 or more, and wage increases that keep up with inflation.
The fightback must be international in scope, building solidarity with the people of the world struggling to throw off U.S. imperialism’s military, economic and political domination.
It must be a movement led by the working class, oppressed communities, the poor and disenfranchised, whose very ability to exist often now hangs by the slenderest thread.
We must build a movement toward socialism to defeat the capitalists’ movement toward fascism.
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