Thursday, September 2, 2021

Facts on the Ground


Image credit to Getty via The Atlantic.

My new reality show is called Fogg the Abortion Bounty Hunter. Somewhere in relatively rural west Texas, there's a longhaired faithful Christian ex-con plagued by ex-wives just struggling to put it together for himself, and this is how he's doing it, pantysniffing, alongside his eccentric posse, starting with the attorney sidekick who files the lawsuits through which the law is supposed to operate, where you get that bounty of up to $10,000, paid by the defendants if you win the case, for suing somebody involved in procuring an illegal abortion (they're practically all illegal in Texas now, it's almost impossible to get a legal abortion unless you started planning it before you got pregnant).

And then the guys who know the local doctors and nurses and Uber drivers taking passengers to Mexico or New Mexico, and cross-tabs between bartenders and pharmacists maybe, since they want a fix on the girls who are fornicating without protection. That's where, as they say, the money is (though you're not allowed to sue the women themselves).

Maybe as an incredibly poignant plot point for the first season he finds himself pursuing his own daughter, after one of the ex-wives drives her to Mexico.

My alternative take on the whole repulsive situation is that the new law isn't exactly meant to work as advertised; I mean, that the Texans don't expect any bounty hunting to take place. Respectable abortion providers inside the state will be complying with the law, abominable ones know how to take care of themselves, and there won't be any lawsuits. It's not a route the traditional Christian boyfriend wants to follow, to allow her to get her abortion and then turn around to try to make $10K out of it. It's a law made for cartoon characters like my friend Fogg there, and they're fictional.

But for the Supreme Court, that's ideal, because it means they'll never have to commit themselves. I'm not sure everybody gets that, but the reason they didn't bother to give for refusing to grant a temporary injunction against the new law is a completely valid one, stupid but valid: that they can't really evaluate the law until they have a lawsuit, filed by somebody with standing to do it. So rather than making their own decisions, they can turn the case they've been handed over to the "shadow docket" and simply refuse to hear it. Meanwhile, it's established as a kind of law that hasn't been rejected by the Supreme Court, inviting 20 or 22 red states to emulate it and provide "facts on the ground", like the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank that seem to be possible because there's no place to effectively challenge them.

What interests me is the increased use of mechanisms like the shadow docket (the same way the Biden eviction moratorium was ended yesterday) where one party to a dispute gets their way, but nobody is seen to be making a decision. That's a bit scary.

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