The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has given Trump and the Republicans a golden opportunity to secure a long-standing goal: to solidify conservative control of the Court.
To be clear Kennedy sided again and again with the right, including in recent weeks, in attacking workers rights, voting rights and even restricting abortion rights. But he was also the swing vote in the marriage equality decision and there were limits in how far he would go in attacking women’s rights. Trump’s carefully vetted nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, has been chosen precisely because he can be relied upon to even more consistently uphold corporate interests and attack the rights of women, LGBTQ people, workers, immigrants and black people.
Systematic Attack on Women’s Rights
Women’s reproductive rights have been under systematic attack in the U.S., especially in Republican run states. Literally hundreds of restrictions on abortion rights have been passed by state governments in the past five years, and in many states abortion is increasingly inaccessible, particularly for poor women.
The attack on reproductive rights is now set to escalate if Kavanaugh is appointed to the Supreme Court. As part of Trump’s unholy alliance with the Christian Right, it has been his intent to appoint justices who would aim to overturn Roe v. Wade. This was the Supreme Court’s decision in 1974 which made abortion legal across all 50 states and was a decisive gain of the mass women’s movement of the ’60s and ’70s.
Any attempt to go down this path will lead to a massive reaction from women in the U.S. A new Quinnipiac poll shows that 63% of Americans want to keep Roe v. Wade while only 31% want to overturn it.
Now there is a new women’s movement being born in the U.S. and across the world which seeks to break down all structural barriers to women’s equality. In the U.S. we have seen both the historic Women’s Marches in 2017 and 2018 sparked by Trump’s misogyny and the #MeToo revolt against sexual assault and harassment.
The recent experience of the successful movement to repeal anti-abortion laws in Ireland and Argentina demonstrates the type of pressure that needs to be applied on the political establishment to win real gains and the necessity of a radical women’s movement that is politically independent of the establishment and centered on the interests of working class women.
While Republicans have spearheaded the attacks, the Democrats’ defensive approach to reproductive rights has failed to stem the decades-long assault. Our task is not just to defend Roe v. Wade but also to win back the ground we’ve lost and fight to extend reproductive rights.
What Does Resistance Look Like?
The leadership of the Democratic Party says they will resist Kavanaugh’s appointment. But it is not even clear that all Democratic Senators will vote against him. The Democratic leadership are deeply afraid of serious social struggle which pushes against the interests of their corporate backers. But this is exactly what is needed to fight back against this appointment and against any threat of overturning Roe v. Wade or other reactionary attacks by the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, the Democrats have a weak track record of standing up for people facing brutal attacks from the Republicans. Just this year they sold out young Dreamers who face the threat of deportation if the DACA program is terminated.
An injury to one is an injury to all! We need mass mobilizations now of all sections of the population (in reality the vast majority) who are in the crosshairs of this reactionary cabal. The building of a sustained mass movement of all the oppressed points to the need for a new society based on ending corporate domination, a democratic socialist society.
We call for:
- Mass demonstrations to oppose Kavanaugh and the threat to Roe v. Wade;
- Defend and extend reproductive rights;
- Medicare for All;
- For a federal $15 minimum wage;
- Tax the rich to build affordable housing and restore cuts to education and social services;
- Reverse all anti-union measures;
- Build a new political party without corporate cash that represents the interests of workers and all oppressed people.