Archive for July, 2016

Reactionary Justices Resurrect Plessy v. Ferguson Attitude

July 28, 2016

On June 27, in the worst ruling since Plessy v. Ferguson five white Supreme Court Justices told the State of Texas it had to ignore the 14th Amendment requirement to provide “equal protection of the laws”.

The ruling was even worse than Plessy. Plessy merely allowed states to enact Jim Crow segregation laws. Justice Stephen Breyer’s opinion in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt requires the state of Texas to allow continued operation of Jane Crow health facilities. A Jane Crow facility provides health care to black women but doesn’t have to meet the same high standards as facilities that treat white men.

Abortion surgery involves the removal of a significant sized biomass from deep inside a woman’s body much like cancer surgery does. The Texas law requires facilities performing abortion surgery on women to meet standards for surgical facilities that treat white men. Women occasionally die from carelessly performed abortion surgery including Tanya Reaves who bled to death after an abortion at an unlicensed Jane Crow facility in Chicago or Cree Erwin who recently died in Battle Creek, Michigan, after an abortion at an as yet unidentified facility.

Justice Breyer’s reasoning is consistent with the type of reasoning used by justices in the late 19th Century. He falsely claims that the law places a burden on those seeking abortions. The law doesn’t restrict patients from seeking abortions. The law merely forces those organizations that want to get money from performing abortions to spend enough money to maximize patient safety. The law requires abortion facilities to function like 21st Century medical facilities instead of mid-20th Century abortion mills. The law doesn’t restrict anyone’s “right” to an abortion. The law merely forces organizations performing abortions to spend more money on patient safety even if that reduces the amount of money available for the salaries of doctors and patients.

Breyer’s reasoning is comparable to late 19th Century Court rulings that prevented states from protecting workers from predatory employers. The Court claimed that such laws interfered with workers’ freedom of contract.

The justices who agreed with Breyer are similar to the justices who allowed Jim Crow segregation laws to remain in effect for 60 years. The justices during the Jim Crow era simply ignored the fact that the facilities provided for blacks were inferior. I don’t know whether they intended to be racists, but for all practical purposes they were. I don’t know if the justices who overturned the Texas law which would have eliminated substandard Jane Crow facilities intend to be racists, but they are.

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