Playing Chicken with the Supreme Court

I can’t claim the title here of playing chicken with the Supreme Court. This is Joanna Grossman’s phrase in her post “What’s the Matter with North Dakota and Arkansas?” but I thought it well worth repeating.

She gives a very nice summary of the long-term assault on Roe vs. Wade and how North Dakota’s legislative actions fit into the big picture.

While these provisions are among dozens that have imposed new restrictions on abortion across the country in recent years, they are more extreme and clearly unconstitutional, and they reflect a legislative agenda that is increasingly far afield of public opinion on abortion.

I’ve written elsewhere that the North Dakota’s legislators should pay for their own legal defense of their posturing, not expect tax payers to support the indefensible (that is, passing legislation that is clearly against federal law). As Joanna Grossman says:

Most other supporters and anti-abortion activists concede that these bills violate Roe/Casey and that they are designed to provoke litigation and, they hope, a revisiting of constitutional standard.  So clear is the unconstitutionality of the bill that the governor of North Dakota asked the legislature to appropriate money to defend the inevitable litigation over its validity.  Legislators have launched an expensive and confrontational game of chicken with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ken Leopold’s “Why is Socialism Doing So Darn Well in Deep-Red North Dakota?” outlines one of the many conundrums in this state’s political and historical background. North Dakota has a state bank and a state flour mill, but when it comes to social programs which would benefit women and children or help disabled workers hurt on the job, the state is about as Red as it gets.

North Dakota, despite the insurge of population because of the oil boom, remains a state with 42 of its 53 counties classified as frontier, that is, these counties have less than 7 persons per square mile.

In other words, bring on the carpetbaggers. O.K. These are native carpetbaggers, but they are behaving in response to oil money in the same manner as the noted southern carpetbaggers. The psychologist Julian Jaynes described the kinds of social changes brought about by urbanization in his 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

North Dakota’s recent Legislative Can-Can doesn’t play well anywhere, including with many in this state, except perhaps in the minds of the native carpetbaggers controlled by a sound-bite mentality.


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