By Dave Andrusko
An amusing aside to the New York Times’ review of Linda Greenhouse’s new book, “The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months That Transformed the Supreme Court.” It’s under “Nonfiction.”
What do I mean?
Now a “contributing Opinion writer” for the Times, Greenhouse wrote wholly one-sided “news stories” as the Times’ Supreme Court correspondent from 1978 until 2008. In her current role (she “writes a biweekly column on law”), she continues her three decade long crusade as a tireless, relentless, and repetitious promoter of abortion.
For Greenhouse, any limitation of abortion is like the final wooden block in a game of Jenga: it’s the movement that will topple the tower, aka Roe v. Wade. What she wrote on abortion was as much fiction as anything Margaret Atwood wrote in her dystopian novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
So, in the spirit of you rub my back, I’ll rub yours, you expect Noah Feldman’s New York Times review to be a gushing tribute to “the acknowledged dean of living Supreme Court journalists.” Actually, not so.
In the interest of space, let me summarize the back half of the review. We don’t know what mischief the three President Trump appointees are up to, and we won’t know until they rule of the Mississippi law which bans abortions after 15 weeks (the Gestation Age Act) and on Texas’s Heartbeat law. So, darn it, why didn’t Greenhouse wait until next year to write this book?
The front half of the review is a lengthy critique of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Since she was reliably pro-abortion, that seems a strange complaint. Here’s his lead:
Linda Greenhouse’s new book on the Supreme Court opens in October 2020, with the drama of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment by Donald Trump. By rights it should have started in 2009, when Barack Obama was president, Democrats controlled the Senate and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer — her second cancer diagnosis in a decade. Ginsburg lived another 11 years, spectacularly beating the odds even after a third diagnosis in 2018. But in retrospect, nothing is clearer than that she should have resigned expeditiously after learning she had a cancer that has an average five-year survival rate of 10 percent.
Ginsburg, who as Greenhouse notes was sometimes called the Thurgood Marshall of the women’s rights movement, was playing Russian roulette with the future of abortion rights.
As you can see, Feldman, who teaches at Harvard Law School, is plenty bitter. So, what if the Court takes a sizable chunk out of Roe v. Wade? “Court-packing, which gets only a compressed discussion in the book, could become a central Democratic preoccupation,” he concludes.
Hmmm. In April Biden appointed a “commission” to study this and other proposals. Their conclusion?
“Commissioners are divided on whether court expansion would be wise. Court expansion is likely to undermine, rather than enhance, the Supreme Court’s legitimacy and its role in the constitutional system, and there are significant reasons to be skeptical that expansion would serve democratic values.”
By no means does that mean court-packing is not on the agenda at a future time and “could become a central Democratic preoccupation” again.