Stockholm Syndrome liberal David Brooks, once the alleged conservative pundit in the Times far-left array, was in one of his “pox on both your houses” moods as he condemned what he claimed were equally unethical (my word, not his) arguments coming from the pro-and anti-abortion camps. “Many conservatives focus on the fetus to the exclusion of all else, ” he wrote. “A lot of the progressive commentary, on the other hand, won’t recognize the fetus at all.” False equivalency, David (and you know it). Since the fetus is the party that’s killed in an abortion, many conservatives and anti-abortion activists take the completely defensible and classic Kantian position that “deference to women who become pregnant in terrible circumstances” doesn’t and can’t justify taking a human life. On the other side of the divide, however, refusing to acknowledge the existence of a life at all is to deliberately rig the debate. And it isn’t “a lot” of the progressive commentary that tries to do this; it’s virtually all of it.
Exhibit A for this just happens to be the op-ed facing Brooks’, by Linda Greenhouse, whose credentials might lead one to assume she’s a trustworthy and honest reporter and pundit. Greenhouse is the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph M. Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School….but then, you know: Yale Law School. She is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter—just like Nikole Hannah-Jones, so you know she earned it!—who has covered the United States Supreme Court for the Times for nearly three decades. You can trust her to give objective commentary, right?
Read her op-ed. If fact, read this one too, which I have been planning on fisking since it was published, but it’s been superseded by events. The latter went into my large file of desperate pro-abortion arguments being raised as smoke and mirrors to avoid the unavoidable legal and ethical conclusion that abortion is wrong.
Greenhouse argues that if a judge’s values and moral compass were nurtured by religious beliefs, which is to say morality, then it’s an invalid basis for legal analysis. (They should all be like Joe Biden, who says that as a good Catholic, he believes that life begins at conception and killing is wrong, but that supporting, enabling and encouraging what he believes is wrong is…right. )
The position is bats, there’s no nicer word for it. Civilization is based on morality; which provided the only route out of chaos and savagery until the discipline of ethics began developing (and it still is). Law arose out of moral codes, and on the most basic human matters, moral codes are still embedded in the law. Greenhouse wants Supreme Court Justices to disqualify themselves if they hold religion-based moral codes because then such truths as “it’s wrong to kill people” can be ignored, and the judges would be required to start from scratch, pretending human beings haven’t learned anything in the the past 10,000 years. Is murder wrong? Is theft wrong? Adultery? Lying? Anything is possible! This, I suspect, is how all of these woke DAs have reached the conclusion that stealing isn’t necessarily wrong. Forget about that morality stuff! Situational ethics is the way to go, at least when one is desperately trying to justify killing.
I’m sorry…once I get started on a Greenhouse cheat it’s hard to stop.
Her op-ed today is an extreme example of what Brooks was complaining about. Even though much of her essay focuses on the importance of a fetal viability standard in Roe v. Wade, Greenhouse tries to mock Justice Kavanaugh’s use of Plessy v. Furguson as a long-standing SCOTUS precedent that was rightly over-ruled to justify the possible overruling of Roe by writing, “For one thing, Plessy negated individual liberty, while Roe expanded it.” Uh, Linda? Aren’t you forgetting something there, Counselor? Or rather some one? Roe expanded one party’s individual liberty, while allowing that liberty to obliterate all of the other party’s rights, liberties, and life. To Greenhouse, the unborn aborted child is just an obstacle, and abstract bystander, not anyting thing with rights.
Still desperate, Greenhouse even endorses Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s typically fatuous and non-legal reasoning when the Wise Latina asked in oral argument, “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” Gee, I don’t know…the Court has somehow survived the stench of finding an unwritten right to kill the unborn, resulting in millions of human lives being snuffed out when they were most vulnerable. How is upholding a badly reasoned ruling that defies both ethics and biology a non-political act, but revising its standards should be seen as creating a “stench”? Sotomayor was making a political argument to persuade her colleagues to reject their analysis of the law so they won’t be seen as political. Wow.
Greenhouse also reveals her belief in the non-personhood of the unborn with this sally: objecting to Justice Barrett statement that the ease of giving up a child for adoption substantially mitigates the burden of forced motherhood, Greenhouse fumes, “’Gaslighting’ doesn’t adequately describe the essence of what Justice Barrett was suggesting: that the right to abortion really isn’t necessary because any woman who doesn’t want to be a mother can just hand her full-term baby over to the nearest police officer and be done with the whole business. As Justice Barrett, of all people, surely understands, such a woman will forever be exactly what she didn’t want to be: a mother, albeit one stripped of her ability to make a different choice.”
And the fact that a human being who would otherwise be dead gets a chance to live…does that figure into the equation at all? Not for Greenhouse it doesn’t.
Back to Brooks: on abortion he apparently hasn’t been completely co-opted by the Times culture. He writes towards the conclusion of his characteristically meandering commentary,
“Experience and the moral sentiments that derive from it have moved me many notches over toward the anti-abortion position. Does that mean I know when life begins? That no longer seems like the right question. I’ve come to believe that all human beings have some piece of themselves that has no size, shape, color or weight but gives them infinite value and dignity, and it is their soul. To me the crucial question is when does a living organism become a human soul. My intuition is that it’s not a moment, but a process — a process shrouded in divine mystery.’
Brooks doesn’t have the courage to write the next sentence—he does work for the Times after all—but it is implicit. That mystery means that there is doubt, and the law, and ethics, and morality hold that when the rights of humans to live are at stake, the benefit of the doubt must be accorded to them.
At least Brooks acknowledges that there is someone other than the pregnant mother to think about.