Abortion politics on the Supreme Court and in the Roman Catholic Church

Abortion

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been unusually talkative lately, first, complaining about being bullied;[1] second, complaining that he doesn’t know where Chief Justice John Roberts, who is suspected to be attempting to water down a decision overturning Roe v. Wade, stands. Roberts might be arguing to his fellow justices that the draft ruling exceeds the scope of the question the Court agreed to take on.[2]

I do not know and I should probably leave this to practiced and experienced observers of the Court, but I hope y’all will forgive me if I suspect Thomas, who is known to have supported the draft decision authored by Samuel Alito,[3] just might be losing an argument.

If indeed, after all the hue and cry,[4] Roe is merely eviscerated rather than struck down, the Democrats may find the one issue they hoped might save them this November has been diluted.

Joan Biskupic, “Clarence Thomas calls out John Roberts as Supreme Court edges closer to overturning Roe v. Wade,” CNN, May 20, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/20/politics/clarence-thomas-john-roberts-supreme-court-roe-wade/index.html


Roman-Catholic Church

Sex

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, is bolstering Nancy Pelosi’s re-election campaign by moving to deny her communion. This, of course, says much more about him than it does about her, and that’s pretty much how San Franciscans will see it.[5] As for Pelosi, she was unlikely to be in any danger whatsoever of failing to win re-election, but I’m sure she’ll appreciate the lift.

Cordileone was appointed as archbishop of San Francisco in 2012,[6] during the papacy of Benedict XVI;[7] he had been prominent in the battle for California’s Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment which banned same-sex marriage,[8] but which was overturned as unconstitutional. He drew calls for his ouster in 2015 when he sought to impose[9] a

code of belief for teachers and staff, made public in early February, [that] calls on educators to “affirm and believe” a litany of church teachings. Those include that homosexuality and premarital sex are “gravely evil” and any form of contraception is “intrinsically evil.”[10]

Obviously, he survived this but the Vatican has opposed denying politicians communion for pro-choice views.[11] Pope Francis, Benedict’s successor, has met both Pelosi[12] and Joe Biden,[13] and given communion to the latter.[14] To state the obvious, the pope is the archbishop’s boss, so it’s hard to see how Cordileone wins here.

Seema Mehta, Christian Martinez, and David Lauter, “San Francisco archbishop says Rep. Nancy Pelosi is not entitled to receive Communion,” Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-05-20/san-francisco-archbishop-says-nancy-pelosi-not-entitled-to-communion


  1. [1]Colbert I. King, “Justice Thomas thinks he’s being ‘bullied’? He could use a history lesson,” Washington Post, May 13, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/13/attack-on-abortion-rights-voting-protections-connected/
  2. [2]Joan Biskupic, “Clarence Thomas calls out John Roberts as Supreme Court edges closer to overturning Roe v. Wade,” CNN, May 20, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/20/politics/clarence-thomas-john-roberts-supreme-court-roe-wade/index.html
  3. [3]Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward, “Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows,” Politico, May 2, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/02/supreme-court-abortion-draft-opinion-00029473
  4. [4]Margaret Atwood, “‘Enforced childbirth is slavery’: Margaret Atwood on the right to abortion,” Guardian, May 7, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/07/enforced-childbirth-is-slavery-margaret-atwood-on-the-right-to-abortion; Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, “Roberts directs investigation into leaked draft of abortion opinion,” Washington Post, May 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/03/supreme-court-leak-investigation-abortion-roe-wade/; Joan Biskupic, “Clarence Thomas calls out John Roberts as Supreme Court edges closer to overturning Roe v. Wade,” CNN, May 20, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/20/politics/clarence-thomas-john-roberts-supreme-court-roe-wade/index.html; Irin Carmon, “Can Republicans Stop Patients From Leaving the State for an Abortion? Some Are Willing to Try,” New York, May 4, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/05/can-republicans-stop-out-of-state-abortion-patients.html; Jordain Carney, “Senate GOP, Manchin block abortion rights legislation,” Hill, May 11, 2022, https://thehill.com/news/senate/3485010-senate-gop-manchin-block-abortion-rights-legislation/; David Charter, “Republican states plot to make birth control a crime,” Times, May 9, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/republican-states-plot-to-make-birth-control-a-crime-sljmb2s7f; Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, “Collins and Murkowski on the defensive after leaked Roe draft opinion,” Washington Post, May 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/03/murkowski-collins-roe-abortion-opinion/; Sarah Gantz, “Outside Philly and Pittsburgh, it can be as hard to get an abortion in Pa. as in Mississippi,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 9, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/health/abortion-roe-v-wade-overturned-20220509.html; Eriq Gardner, “Was Politico’s Supreme Court Leaker an Inside Man?” Puck News, May 9, 2022, https://puck.news/was-politicos-supreme-court-leaker-an-inside-man/; Josh Gerstein, “What falls after Roe? Liberals warn of a privacy rights nightmare,” Politico, May 3, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/03/supreme-court-abortion-privacy-rights-00029871; Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward, “Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows,” Politico, May 2, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/02/supreme-court-abortion-draft-opinion-00029473; Josh Gerstein, Alexander Ward, and Ryan Lizza, “Alito’s draft opinion overturning Roe is still the only one circulated inside Supreme Court,” Politico, May 11, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/11/alito-abortion-draft-opinion-roe-00031648; Oriana Gonzalez, “Collins says Kavanaugh and Gorsuch possibly broke promise on Roe v. Wade,” Axios, May 3, 2022, https://www.axios.com/susan-collins-kavanaugh-gorsuch-abortion-court-leak-d6d1dad3-15d4-4269-b2ee-b5b5b2a4ea94.html; Jennifer Haberkorn, “Abortion pills: A post-Roe game changer — and the next battleground,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-05-05/medication-abortion-safety-net-battleground; Peter Hamby, “The Dark Truth Behind the SCOTUS Ruling,” Puck News, May 9, 2022, https://puck.news/the-dark-truth-behind-the-scotus-ruling/; Jill Elaine Hasday, “On Roe, Alito cites a judge who treated women as witches and property,” Washington Post, May 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/09/alito-roe-sir-matthew-hale-misogynist/; Molly Jong-Fast, “My Mother Was Wrong,” Atlantic, May 3, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/05/supreme-court-overturn-abortion-peaceful-protest/629746/; Molly Jong-Fast, “It’s Mask Off for the Supreme Court,” Atlantic, May 12, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/627d0d9366d6b500218d7450/supreme-court-partisanship-roe-v-wade/; Colbert I. King, “Justice Thomas thinks he’s being ‘bullied’? He could use a history lesson,” Washington Post, May 13, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/13/attack-on-abortion-rights-voting-protections-connected/; Caroline Kitchener, “The next frontier for the antiabortion movement: A nationwide ban,” Washington Post, May 2, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/05/02/abortion-ban-roe-supreme-court-mississippi/; Alexandra Martinez, “Birth control, gay and interracial marriage, and more may be at risk if Roe v. Wade falls,” Prism, May 5, 2022, https://prismreports.org/2022/05/05/civil-rights-roe-v-wade/; Erin McCarthy, “Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf vows to protect abortion rights, but can only do so for the next eight months,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 4, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/news/pennsylvania/abortion-rights-pennsylvania-governor-wolf-20220504.html; Anna North, “Abortion has been treated as a fringe issue by Democrats for decades. This is the result,” Vox, May 5, 2022, https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2022/5/5/23057317/abortion-supreme-court-roe-v-wade; Martin Pengelly, “Louisiana Republicans advance bill to make abortion a crime of murder,” Guardian, May 5, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/05/louisiana-abortion-bill-murder-republicans; William Rivers Pitt, “Democrats Had 50 Years to Save and Protect ‘Roe.’ They Failed,” Truthout, May 6, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/democrats-had-50-years-to-save-and-protect-roe-they-failed/; Meredith Shiner, “Democrats Can Go Scorched Earth on Abortion Rights, or Go Home,” New Republic, May 4, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/166293/democrats-abortion-rights-roe-2022; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “How Alito’s Draft Opinion on Abortion Rights Would Change America,” New Yorker, May 8, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/05/16/how-alitos-draft-opinion-on-abortion-rights-would-change-america; Vanessa Williamson and John Hudak, “The War on Abortion Drugs will be just as racist and classist,” Brookings, May 9, 2022, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2022/05/09/the-war-on-abortion-drugs-will-be-just-as-racist-and-classist/
  5. [5]Seema Mehta, Christian Martinez, and David Lauter, “San Francisco archbishop says Rep. Nancy Pelosi is not entitled to receive Communion,” Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-05-20/san-francisco-archbishop-says-nancy-pelosi-not-entitled-to-communion
  6. [6]Matthai Kuruvila, “New S.F. archbishop appointed by pope,” SFGate, July 27, 2012, https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/New-S-F-archbishop-appointed-by-pope-3740657.php
  7. [7]Guardian, “Every Pope ever: the full list,” 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/feb/13/popes-full-list
  8. [8]Matthai Kuruvila, “New S.F. archbishop appointed by pope,” SFGate, July 27, 2012, https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/New-S-F-archbishop-appointed-by-pope-3740657.php
  9. [9]Dan Brekke, “High-Profile S.F. Catholics Ask Pope to Remove Archbishop Cordileone,” KQED, April 16, 2015, https://www.kqed.org/news/10491850/high-profile-s-f-catholics-ask-pope-to-remove-archbishop-cordileone
  10. [10]Dan Brekke, “High-Profile S.F. Catholics Ask Pope to Remove Archbishop Cordileone,” KQED, April 16, 2015, https://www.kqed.org/news/10491850/high-profile-s-f-catholics-ask-pope-to-remove-archbishop-cordileone
  11. [11]Michelle Boorstein, “Pope’s emissary urges U.S. bishops to listen and unite as they ready to vote on Communion document,” Washington Post, November 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/11/16/bishops-catholic-pope-communion-biden-/; Donna Cassata, “Top Vatican cardinal says Biden should not be denied Communion,” Washington Post, October 4, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-catholic-communion-abortion-rights/2021/10/04/4c4a7138-2525-11ec-8831-a31e7b3de188_story.html
  12. [12]Philip Pullella, “Pope meets Pelosi as abortion debate rages back home,” Reuters, October 9, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/pope-meets-pelosi-abortion-debate-rages-back-home-2021-10-09/
  13. [13]Matt Viser, “Biden’s meeting with the pope carries resonance as disputes divide U.S. Catholics,” Washington Post, October 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-pope-francis-meeting/2021/10/23/354b1d5c-3290-11ec-a1e5-07223c50280a_story.html; Amy B. Wang and Chico Harlan, “Biden to meet with Pope Francis to discuss coronavirus, climate change, caring for poor,” Washington Post, October 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/14/biden-pope-meeting/
  14. [14]Chico Harlan and Seung Min Kim, “Biden says Pope Francis called him a good Catholic and said he should keep receiving Communion,” Washington Post, October 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/biden-pope-francis-meeting/2021/10/28/80f529ca-33a1-11ec-8036-7db255bff176_story.html; Anugrah Kumar, “Biden takes communion in Rome after saying Pope Francis called him a ‘good Catholic,’” Christian Post, November 1, 2021, https://www.christianpost.com/news/biden-takes-communion-in-rome-after-pope-calls-him-good-catholic.html; Elisabetta Povoledo, Richard Pérez-Peña, and Ruth Graham, “Pope Weighs In on Calls to Deny Communion to Biden Over Abortion,” New York Times, September 15, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/world/europe/pope-francis-biden-abortion.html

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