Old New York Times reporters don't fade away -- they just get liberal column perches at nytimes.com, where they can rant, unfiltered, on their own deeply dubious pet causes, such as treating abortion as a constitutional right (Linda Greenhouse), or how forest fires are a sign of global warming (Timothy Egan). On Wednesday, former Supreme Court reporter Greenhouse continued her pro-abortion crusade with "A Right Like Any Other," on abortion as an undeniable and inalienable right embedded in the Constitution:
Listening to politicians talk about abortion, watching state legislatures put up ever more daunting obstacles, reading the opinions of judges who give the states a free pass, it’s abundantly clear to me that some constitutional rights are more equal than others. Or to put it another way, there are constitutional rights and then there is abortion -- a right, increasingly, in name only, treated as something separate and apart, vulnerable in its isolation from the mainstream of those rights the Constitution actually protects.
And then, forcefully to the contrary, came this week’s opinion by a federal district judge in Alabama, Myron H. Thompson, who declared unconstitutional the state’s Women’s Health and Safety Act, which required doctors who performed abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The law would have shut down three of Alabama’s five remaining abortion clinics.
There is so much to say about this remarkable 172-page opinion that it’s hard to know where to begin. So I’ll start with where Judge Thompson ended his opinion in Planned Parenthood Southeast v. Strange and it’s a point that has gone unsaid in too many quarters for too many years: the right to an abortion is a constitutional right like any other.
Even many pro-choice liberals have found the Court's late discovery of a right to abortion in the infamous 1973 case Roe v. Wade unconvincing. Greenhouse is not among them. She clearly finds Judge Thompson's abortion/gun parallel brilliant:
Just suppose, Judge Thompson wrote, that the justices were to recognize an individual right to keep a gun at home for self-defense....Then suppose that sellers of firearms and ammunition were regulated by the state to such an extent that there were only two vendors left. “The defenders of this law would be called upon to do a heck of a lot of explaining,” Judge Thompson said, adding, “and rightly so in the face of an effect so severe.”
But onerous Second Amendment restrictions aren't just the hypothetical intellectual exercise Thompson and Greenhouse imply. The Brady Law initially mandated a five-day waiting period to buy a handgun, absent liberal whining that it was an unconstitutional restriction on the right to bear arms. Virginia had a "one gun a month" purchase law for almost 20 years. And Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan cheekily called for a 10,000% tax on certain types of bullets in 1993.
Greenhouse, who marched in a rally for abortion rights in 1989 and gave a fiery pro-abortion speech at her alma mater Radcliffe in 2006, came out as a liberal with a selective opposition to government health regulation:
....It was unthinkable [after the 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey that upheld Roe] that nearly a generation later, states would flagrantly be regulating the practice of abortion (in the name of women’s health and safety, no less) out of business -- a goal that Texas, enabled by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is close to achieving.
Greenhouse bluntly stated that the right to abortion, discovered by an activist court in 1973, stands equal with all the other rights actually embedded in the actual text of the Constitution:
Even in the face of cynical and unrelenting political attack, the right to abortion can become stronger the more tightly it is stitched into the constitutional fabric,the more that smart and gutsy judges are willing to treat it as what it is, a right like any other.
On Friday, the paper's long-time Pacific Northwest correspondent Timothy Egan checked in online with "Fools at the Fire," linking the current spate of wildfires in Washington state to global warming. Because, of course, wildfires never happened before "global warming."
In the heat, in the still gloaming, we set up camp near a snowbank across from a glacier and a symphony of waterfalls. North Cascades National Park, a few hours’ drive from Seattle, can always be counted on as a compress to the rest of the country’s fever.
Then, out of the park a few days later, down the valley to the arid east, it seems as if half of Washington State is on fire. Smoke, devastation, ashen orchards of charred fruit, standing dead pines. More than 250,000 acres have burned in the largest fire in the state’s history, the Carlton Complex. About 300 homes have been destroyed. A small army of firefighters, at a cost of $50 million so far, is trying to hold the beast in the perimeter, between days when the mercury tops 100 degrees.
With this kind of loss comes blame. It’s President Obama’s fault. Why? Because everything is his fault in the inland West, where ignorance rides the airwaves of talk radio. Amid the conservative cant, a great irony: People who hate government most are the loudest voices demanding government action to save their homes.
Those flares will die down. What can’t be so easily dismissed is what the fires say about an emerging American ethos of delaying long-term fixes for our major problems. Smart foresters had been warning for years that climate change, drought and stress would lead to bigger, longer, hotter wildfires. They offered remedies, some costly, some symbolic. We did nothing. We chose to wait until the fires were burning down our homes, and then demanded instant relief.
We have a Congress that won’t legislate, an infrastructure that’s collapsing, a climate bomb set to go off. We won’t solve the immigration crisis even as desperate children throw themselves in the Rio Grande. Income inequality threatens to make a great democracy into an oligarchy.
The cost of not doing anything about the big picture, as numerous reports have documented, could be catastrophic in just a few years. With rising sea levels, bigger fires, and more lethal and powerful storms, you don’t need an atmospheric scientist to know which way that wind is going to blow.
Never mind that similar reports confidently predicted global temperatures would continue to rise at a catastrophic rate, though in the real world "climate change" is on a 15-year "hiatus" and counting.