A CNN legal analyst asks a question:
John Roberts has a plan that would gut — yet save — Roe v. Wade. Can it work?
The answer is yes. We know because Roberts has done this before, “saving” the Voting Rights Act while extracting its teeth. An excerpt from the article:
By his questions during the intense session that ran nearly two hours, Roberts suggested the high court reverse a significant part of Roe v. Wade but preserve some constitutional right to abortion. Roberts would end the existing protection for a woman’s abortion decision before viability — that is when the fetus can survive outside the womb — at about 23 weeks. He suggested he would let states ban abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy, as Mississippi has done in the case before the justices, but that he would not go further to completely ban abortion.
This is exactly how a reactionary “institutionalist” would approach it — strip away well-established rights and deliver a solid victory to the fanatics while leaving a fig leaf in place. The other five “conservatives” — including the three appointed by the twice-impeached, two-time popular vote loser who tried to overthrow the government — seem less inclined toward such fig leaves. But maybe they’ll come around.
Roberts should point out to them that “soft” autocracies like Orbán’s in Hungary (so admired by Fox News personalities) are generally less risky to those in power. They still have elections, and they generally maintain the trappings of democracy while concentrating real power in a single party’s hands. The question is, will Roberts’ more fanatical colleagues be able to resist spiking the ball. We’ll see.