Last night, Politico published a leaked February draft of a majority opinion from the Supreme Court indicating that the conservative majority apparently plans to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to ban abortion.
Politico’s publication time is 8:32 p.m. Eastern, just ten hours prior to my coming to the keyboard this morning to express my grief and anger at the Supreme Court’s abandonment of stare decisis to move in the wrong direction, to restrict rather than to expand liberty. I haven’t had time to study the draft opinion (which doesn’t count until the Supreme Court issues its official ruling) or digest the commentary that has exploded overnight.
Neither, apparently, have South Dakota’s two statewide Democratic candidates. Gubernatorial candidate Jamie Smith was on Twitter before yesterday’s unprecedented SCOTUS leak to appreciate teachers and retweet his ticketmate, Senate candidate Brian Bengs. After tweeting on whacking Big Meat with antitrust legislation, Bengs yesterday continued noting the endorsements Democratic legislators are sending him, with the latest coming from Rep. Jennifer Keintz (D-1/Eden), and then took another shot at “lifetime politician” John Thune as “Mitch McConnell’s handpicked successor.”
Responses to such a seismic shift in women’s guaranteed rights, a change from allowing women autonomy in their reproductive choices to rendering them second-class citizens in any state that chooses to reduce pregnant women to servants of the state, may require more thoughtful reading, contemplation, and message-craft. But we could all see this coming from the day Thune, McConnell, and Trump replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Amy Coney Barrett. Democrats ready to fight for women’s rights should thus have their restore-Roe responses cued up and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice, not just to immediately establish the proper moral and political stance in favor of women’s rights against white patriarchal theocracy, but also to surf the immediate wave of patriotic outrage to gain attention and donations for their campaigns. (My fellow Democrats, learn a lesson from the Republicans: scared and angry people will hit the Donate button.)
Governor Kristi Noem didn’t need time to read and contemplate (as if she’s ever taken time to engage in such mental taxation). An hour after Politico’s story, she tweeted that she will call for a Special Session “to save lives and guarantee that every unborn child has a right to life in South Dakota.” She doesn’t need to call a Special Session to outlaw abortion; South Dakota’s trigger law will automatically ban almost all abortions the moment SCOTUS turns this draft to final copy.
Democratic leaders outside South Dakota are already framing the Court’s impending action as “the central choice in the 2022 election.” Smith and Bengs should center that choice here in the heart of coming Gilead by making these tweets their next:
- Smith: South Dakota cannot abandon women’s equality. As your next Governor, I promise to veto any new restrictions on abortion and work to dismantle all laws that oppress women.
- Bengs: Women should control their bodies. John Thune should not. Send me to the Senate, and I will support judges who support women.
The South Dakota Democratic Party did tweet last night that “Women deserve the right to make medical decisions for their own bodies. Time and time again, South Dakotans have shown at the ballot box they support a woman’s right to choose.” Smith, Bengs, you need to amplify that message today, all week, and right through November 8.
Republicans made hay from 50 years of abortion politics. Now that they are getting what they want, Democrats need to capitalize on the issue of women’s autonomy and come out swinging to defend women from this foul regression to second-class citizenship. Jamie Smith, Brian Bengs, show your leadership on this crucial issue. Show women and other defenders of equality and autonomy that they have candidates worth fighting for in South Dakota.