What follows is an expression of fear. It is not sober legal or political analysis — though, as a mathematician with only a middling understanding of human nature, I am about the last person you would go to for either anyways. Perhaps by making my thoughts public, I am furthering the crisis by mongering fear.
But fear is all I have to offer. In high school, after I spoke to her about the attempts of the Texas GOP to restrict the AP US History curriculum, my history teacher told me that one must love a country as they would a person: by accepting its flaws and trying to improve on them. And with this crucial caveat, I love and have loved my country, and I especially love her fundamental axiom.
The fundamental axiom of the United States is the existence of justice and tolerance for all: those whose skin is any color, those who serve gods of all origins or no gods at all, those of any lifestyle or personal preferences of their choosing whatsoever. Even if I may personally turn up my nose at my neighbor’s nature, as an American, I am obligated to honor the fundamental axiom, and to show them respect as long as they do the same to me. Centuries after my country’s conception, the work to satisfy the fundamental axiom still continues, but over the past eight years or so there has been a radical pushback by those who at once claim to be the true Americans, while at once betraying our country’s nature.
And so it is with great sadness that I fear that the Supreme Court has opened a box to which Pandora had banished least two different ruins. Such ruinous futures are not even necessarily likely, but I rate them sufficiently plausible that I cannot overcome my fear of them.
The foundations for the ruin by brownshirts were laid in place by the recent attempt on the life of Brett Kavanaugh. With Roe v. Wade overturned, and given the frequency with which high-profile crime in the United States admits copycats, it seems unreasonable to conclude that this will be the only attempt.
If an assassination attempt succeeds, I fear massive retaliation by the American far right directed at those they deem responsible: supposed “leftists” and minorities of all flavors. This was unthinkable even a few years ago, but we have since seen the rise of an American Sturmabteilung. Though the SA has recently been reduced to harassing innocent children in libraries, their activities have included vehicular homicide in Charlottesville; assassination attempts on Gretchen Whitmer and Mike Pence; attempted pipe bombings of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; and a frontal assault on the Capitol Building, which was aided and abetted by various Republican Congressmen and the wife of Clarence Thomas.
I need not remind the reader what activities the original SA partook in, in particular in retaliation to a certain 1938 assassination.
Perhaps the ruin by brownshirts is my own blind paranoia. But the ruin by slippery slope was alluded to by Justice Thomas himself in his concurrence with today’s Roe ruling: the overturn of “substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” And if we are going to throw out various rights established by the court, why not throw out Loving v. Virginia as well?
Justice Alito, for his part, has denounced the ruin by slippery slope, claiming that nothing about his Roe decision “should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” But the words of Alito and his allies about judgments they will make are wind, as Justice Kavanaugh had previously claimed that the question of Roe was settled. We can, however, take small comfort in Thomas’ reputation as an utterly incompetent justice: maybe the rest of the Supreme Court really does want to retain all rights not in Roe or Casey v. Planned Parenthood, and Thomas is just such an idiot that he is alluding to fantasies that have no chance of coming to pass.
But suppose that the above is not Thomas’ delusional fantasy, and the ruin by slippery slope comes to fruition. If Loving falls, then my parents’ marriage would likely be annulled in several states, and I suspect that I could not marry my love in many states either. I have family who would lose the right to marriage in several states with the failure of Obergefell or Lawrence.
We all live in either California or New England, so our lives would not be affected too much. But I still wonder: will we no longer be welcome elsewhere in the country, in violation of the fundamental axiom, in violation of all that as American citizens we are entitled to?