The news that the Supreme Court is poised to strike down the right to bodily autonomy is the result of decades of dark money meddling in politics (and centuries of misogyny.) It is the culmination of a well-funded strategy to flood the legal system with partisan ideologues to create, normalize, spread, and rule on arguments with a legal pretense but political purpose and/or profit motive.
The Koch network actively and successfully solicited buy-in (literally) from (fellow) anti-abortion zealots to build a judicial lobby network and deliberately blur the line between corporate interests and legal justice. The Federalist Society, for example, is funded by Koch, Searle, Scaife, and Mercer, the usual suspects of conservative political propaganda, and was integral in building this Supreme Court majority that represents a minority of Americans.
In fact, there are more justices signed to this opinion denying the right to one’s body that have been credibly accused of sexual assault (two) than there are justices nominated by first-term popular vote-winning presidents (one). (That justice also happens to be one of the accused harassers, and whose wife is a conservative consultant who rabidly texted election-stealing Q-Anon conspiracies to Mark Meadows on Jan 6, 2021, and who just so happens to take clients with cases before her “best friend” and husband.)
But letting the minority of men atop the capitalist patriarchy override the public will of the rest of the country is not an unexpected quirk. It’s the express purpose of a 70-year old conservative political project, as Nancy MacLean’s ‘Democracy in Chains’ made painfully clear.
While researching school segregation in Virginia, MacLean unearthed the evidence that James Buchanan’s Nobel-winning “public choice” economic theory, the basis of modern Koch-loved free-market libertarianism, was in fact support largely as a tool to fight desegregation, framing it as an issue of parents having the right to choose how their children are educated. It has since grown as a useful tool for tobacco propaganda (“freedom to smoke”), healthcare disinformation and all manner of shady economic exploitation (“freedom to choose”... expensive insurance, sub-prime mortgages, or usurious pay-day loans), and of course — still — "school choice" that undermines the desegregated public education system at the heart of their organizing.
“Buchanan’s career mission,” MacLean explained in an interview in 2018, “became shackling the majority to prevent them from achieving the kinds of changes that require government spending and government action that citizen action had pushed government to take over the whole course of the twentieth century. (Things like Social Security, Medicare, fair labor standards, antidiscrimination policies, and clean air and water protections.)”
But Charles Koch, she continued, knew that “libertarians are less than four percent of the population. And if you’re going to try to shape policy, then you need to get a majority. So what they have done very shrewdly and effectively is reach out to other partners. Among those partners is the Religious Right, and to get the Religious Right, you have to push an agenda that will bring them in. And have people in charge who understand what that requires—like Tim Phillips, the head of Americans for Prosperity, who used to work with Ralph Reed to rally white evangelicals, in particular, for the right. Those anti-abortion bills, and the gay-bashing marriage amendments, and the push for so-called ‘religious liberty,’ did that: got the GOP base to the polls using fear and prejudice to move the economic liberty agenda.”
The Koch network recruited racist religious wacko-s because they provide the emotional fodder to cover for polluter-profiting-policies that voters would otherwise never naturally support. The fight for climate justice is the same fight for abortion and reproductive justice for a number of reasons, not least of which is that the opposition is united in destroying the majority’s ability to legislate on both issues.
Ultimately, what did MacLean see as the aim of the movement?
“They want to change the U.S. Constitution,” she explained, “so they can put locks and bolts on what popular majorities can do in our politics. They want to transform our society radically — transform it into a society that most of us would not recognize and I don’t think many of us would want to live in.”
Four years later, the Democratic party holds the House, Senate, and White House, but is limited by a Supreme Court majority appointed by popular-vote-losing presidents, and one of the first indications of this session’s important rulings is that they’re overturning the right to control one of the most basic aspects of one’s body.