The Process of Forcing Popular Will on the People
The March issue of First Things was an anniversary issue reprinting various pieces from past iterations, and a 1994 article by Russell Hittinger reconsidering the state of the political battlefield prior to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision sheds some light on the process of progressives implementation of policies with which the American people have their doubts (to put it mildly), first with contraceptives:
Garrow makes it clear that the “reproductive rights” movement won its victories in the federal courts, not in the legislatures. Interestingly, in the first Supreme Court case dealing with contraception, Poe v. Ullman (1961), Justice Felix Frankfurter was so astonished by the conservative legislative history that he asked, at oral argument, whether some “outside authoritarian power” had coerced the Connecticut legislature. Even after the Court struck down the Connecticut statute in1965, other states adamantly retained various kinds of anti-contraceptive statutes. The Supreme Court ripped these out of the states, one by one, until they finally managed to invalidate New York’s law against the sale of contraceptives to minors in 1977. Even in the middle of the sexual revolution, states did not willingly relinquish their authority to exercise moral police powers in this matter.
Then with abortion and euthanasia:
For the historical record, it should be remembered that on the eve of the federally compelled abortion “right” the citizens of Michigan voted overwhelmingly against it; and let the historical record show that twenty-one years later, on the eve of a federally mandated “right” to physician-assisted euthanasia, the citizens of Washington voted it down. The idea that the federal courts have merely facilitated the social and political agenda of the people is a myth. The idea that the issues of abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality are politically unmanageable, and must therefore be reserved for sub-political “cultural” discourse, is a myth. Regrettably, the pundits continue to overlook the most obvious and historically consistent datum: namely, the abrogation of the people’s legislative judgment by federal courts. Before we condemn the people for their moral decline and insensitivity, the judicial violation of the political order must be fully considered.
We’re seeing a repeat of the process with same-sex marriage. The left initiates a forceful push for its policies across the country, and voters mostly reject the ideas. But the extent to which advocates repeat their call (especially given their permeation of media industries) keeps the issue alive, with the frequency of mentions giving judges a false cover of popular support. Their declarations of “inevitability” are only accurate to the extent that we continue to allow them to take away our right to self governance.