The Sacred Heart and the Supreme Court

Statue of Jesus with Sacred Heart in The Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre

On Friday, June 24th, the feast of the Sacred Heart, at 10:10am, the Supreme Court of the United States released its opinion on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center case, overruling Roe and Casey and handing the question of abortion back to the states. The essentials of the case are found in the opinion:

Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act provides that “[e]xcept in a medical emergency or in the case of a severe fetal abnormality, a person shall not intentionally or knowingly perform . . . or induce an abortion of an unborn human being if the probable gestational age of the unborn human being has been determined to be greater than fifteen (15) weeks.” Miss. Code Ann. §41–41–191. Respondents—Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an abortion clinic, and one of its doctors—challenged the Act in Federal District Court, alleging that it violated this Court’s precedents establishing a constitutional right to abortion, in particular Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113, and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833

 This was a case did not start out with the intention to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but the pro-life side quickly realized it was an opportunity to do so.

Then, on May 2nd, 2022, Politico published an article with a leaked draft opinion from February 10th showing that the Supreme Court had voted to overturn Roe and Casey. This opinion was authored by Justice Alito and held that:

Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely—the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be “deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.”

This leaked opinion raised the hopes of the pro-life movement, which has been fighting against abortion now for 50 years and sent the left into a panicked frenzy. One part of the leaked opinion that many scholars commented on was its heavy reliance on originalist jurisprudence, though it even goes further than that. Consider in the above quote how Alito mentions that rights must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and that it also must be “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.” Ordered liberty? Now that is not a modern concept at all. This sounds far more like the classical view of liberty, that liberty is not absolute and is not merely the ability to do anything we want, but instead must be ordered towards good.

The final opinion, also written by Justice Alito, holds that “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.” He returns to the essential question of history and rightly ordered liberty, saying, “Next, the Court examines whether the right to obtain an abortion is rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition and whether it is an
essential component of ‘ordered liberty.’ The Court finds that the right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition.”

This decision is arguably more of a repudiation of Casey than it is Roe, as Casey went even further than Roe in terms of attempting to find a right to abortion, claiming that abortion falls under “the freedom to make ‘intimate and personal choices’ that are ‘central to personal dignity and autonomy.'” Alito responds that this is a valid debate, but that it is one to be had at the state level in the legislatures rather than at the federal level by Court mandate.

One part of the final opinion which everyone has overlooked is this little gem which is no doubt a jab at the attempts by the leakers and the left to intimidate the court. Alito says, “Casey identified another concern, namely, the danger that the public will perceive a decision overruling a controversial ‘watershed’ decision, such as Roe, as influenced by political considerations or public opinion. 505 U. S., at 866–867. But the Court cannot allow its decisions to be affected by such extraneous concerns. A precedent of this Court is subject to the usual principles of stare decisis under which adherence to precedent is the norm but not an inexorable command. If the rule were otherwise, erroneous decisions like Plessy would still be the law. The Court’s job is to interpret the law, apply longstanding principles of stare decisis, and decide this case accordingly.”

This decision is the biggest victory for the pro-life movement in the history of the movement. Many never thought it would happen. Many said it could never be done and that the pro-life movement should not attempt to overturn Roe and Casey. Yet, the movement pressed on, and thanks to decades of activism, political action, and court battles, it has emerged victorious.

Many pointed out a number of “coincidences” about the decision coming out on June 24th. For one, it will always be the feast of John the Baptist, who recognized his Lord and leapt in the womb. For another, it was a rare occasion where the feast of the Sacred Heart took precedence over John the Baptist’s feast. John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (RSVCE). It was also the birthday of Nellie Gray, who started the March for Life. Finally, the planets literally aligned.

It is abundantly clear that the end of Roe and Casey was Divine Providence.

With that being said, the fight has only just begun. While many states have already enacted their trigger laws and abortion limits, others have legal abortion through all nine months. Federal and state courts are also still halting restrictions from taking effect. For instance, in Kentucky, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are now attempting to argue that there is a right to abortion in the commonwealth’s constitution. Thankfully, there is a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November which would amend the Bill of Rights to specifically say that nothing in it implies or includes a right to abortion. Still, though, it is going to be a long and hard fight ahead. The pro-life movement must continue to press forward, and Christians must continue to support laws against abortion as well as resources for mothers and children both before and after birth.

We must pray, we must fight, we must speak out. In the end, Christ will win. But make no mistake, the Satanic legions will push back against us at all costs. We are seeing it now. So, stay strong. Celebrate this win, but do not think for even a moment that this fight is over.

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