Women’s marchers to encircle High Court after justices hear anti-abortion demands

WASHINGTON—They don’t expect half a million people—as they got the day after misogynist and racist Donald Trump took over the presidency–but the Women’s March will return to Washington, again, to literally ring the Supreme Court on Dec. 1.

Two hours after the justices hear oral arguments on Mississippi’s abortion curbs, the march leaders plan to send a message to the court: Most of the country supports womens’ reproductive choice. The website www.womensmarch.com also says there will be sister marches elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the nine justices, six of them nominated by Republican presidents and all confirmed by the Senate, heard oral arguments in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that anti-choice groups view as their best shot at overturning the court’s 1973 pro-abortion ruling, Roe v Wade, and its 1992 successor, Planned Parenthood v Casey.

And that bench includes three Donald Trump-nominated justices whom GOP leader Mitch McConnell seated by abolishing filibusters against Supreme Court picks: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

Mississippi’s “red state” heavy right-wing white male-dominated government makes no bones about what it really wants: A complete nationwide legal abortion ban. It even changed its brief after Barrett joined the bench.

“Nothing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion,” the Magnolia State now declares.

The case pits the only women’s health clinic in Mississippi against the state government. The GOP-heavy Mississippi legislature passed, and its GOP governor signed, a law banning all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, flying in the face of second-trimester restrictions, but not a ban, the court laid down in Roe. That case also said there could be no bans in the first three months of pregnancy.

Minnie Timmaraju, the new president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, warns of the dire consequences of upholding Mississippi’s law, and its real object: Outlawing all legal abortions.

“The court, led by its anti-choice supermajority, could absolutely overturn Roe as a result of this case. If that happens, around half of the states in the country are poised to ban abortion, cutting off access to abortion care for millions of people,” she wrote in a Nov. 29 e-mail.

“Most significantly affected by this shockwave of bans will be people who already face discriminatory obstacles to healthcare: Women, Black, Indigenous & other people of color, the LGBTQI+ community, immigrants, young people, people with disabilities, and those working to make ends meet.”

The Service Employees and AFSCME, two unions that joined in three separate friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, made that point, too. Five unions—those two, plus two unions of women pro sports athletes and the Teachers (AFT)—plus the Coalition of Labor Union Women, sided with the clinic.

“If the court upholds the (Mississippi) abortion ban, people in large regions of the United States will be unable to access their constitutional right to abortion in their home state,” they warned. After listing the states, it notes many states “are poised to enforce pre-viability bans that are currently enjoined,” the SEIU and AFSCME said in the brief, originally written by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

And “11 states have ‘trigger laws’ that will outlaw abortion altogether if this court overturns Roe entirely. If these laws are allowed to take effect, they will radically curtail abortion access,” it adds.

Heading into the days before the march, progressive lawmakers again pledged their support for reproductive rights, too. Typical was a tweet from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn.: “On December 1st, the fate of Roe v. Wade lies with the Supreme Court. Again.  It’s time to write reproductive rights into federal law.”

The Democratic-run House passed just such a bill earlier this year, on party lines. A planned Senate GOP filibuster, catering to its right-wing and fundamentalist base, has sidelined the measure.

Whether the justices will heed the majority of the U.S., much less the two keynote speakers at the march, Women’s March Executive Director Rachel Carmona and MoveOn Executive Director Rahna Epting, is open to question. Other speakers will join them. A complete list was not immediately available.

But if excerpts from prior rulings and writings from the nine justices, published Nov. 27 in the Washington Post, are any indication, the answer to the will-they-heed question is probably “no.” There are three definite votes to halt all legal abortions. Two other conservative justices look with favor on incremental moves, such as more restrictions—which is just what Mississippi, on its face, demands. And that’s a majority.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners. El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People's World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).