When someone says what must be said

Justice Samuel Alito is a familiar type in American literature: the holier-than-thou preacher, so overzealous in his attempts to rein in female sexuality and slap on a scarlet letter that one suspects he must be hiding some dark yearnings of his own.

That was certainly the case with Clarence Thomas, another of the justices wanting to turn America into Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Arabia at least allows abortions if the woman’s physical or mental health is at risk.) Thomas — married to the off-the-wall right-wing activist Ginni — got on the court with the help of Republican senators who smeared Anita Hill as a pervy liar when they knew all along that Thomas was the pervy liar. The senators claimed Thomas could not possibly have been talking about porn in the office, as Hill said, even though they knew from his D.C. video store visits that he was indeed a connoisseur of so-called “freak-of-nature” porn, especially the movies of Bad Mama Jama, a porn star so sadly obese she could barely move.

[This particular side of Thomas was researched thoroughly for RANDOM EVENTS TEND TO CLUSTER. The author reported on an additional colleague whom Clarence sexually harassed (one who wanted to testify on Anita’s behalf at the hearings, but was not called upon to do so), and one of Thomas’ old girlfriends who wrote about her many consensual sexual escapades with the Supreme Court nominee.]

Newt Gingrich pursued Bill Clinton like Javert, even as he was having an affair with a young political aide (whom he later married). And prissy Ken Starr hounded Monica Lewinsky, producing a seven-volume report that read like a panting bodice-ripper, full of lurid passages about breasts, stains and genitalia. The Pharisaic Holy Roller, who sang hymns while he jogged, became fixated on Bill Clinton’s sex life in a warped way.

The 1999 version of Donald Trump, when he was still a fan of the Clintons and boasting that he was “pro-choice in every respect,” was appalled. “Starr’s a freak,” he told me back then. “I bet he’s got something in his closet.” It was no surprise last year when Judi Hershman, who worked with Starr on P.R. through that shameful period, wrote that she had an affair with Rev. Ken Dimmesdale.

Like Reagan, Trump was a Democrat who turned conservative, latching onto the Christian evangelical electorate. As Carl Hulse reported in “Confirmation Bias,” Trump soothed conservatives uneasy with his lax morality by promising to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, chosen from a Federalist Society-approved list. The libertine who transgressed with women traded off their rights to nail down a base.

Now pervy Matt Gaetz tweets: “How many of the women rallying against overturning Roe are overeducated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no Bumble matches?” This is a man under investigation over whether he had sex with a 17-year-old and was a sex trafficker.

And let’s not even start on Madison Cawthorn’s fantasies of drug-fueled orgies.

This week’s stunning reversal on women’s rights is the apotheosis of the last 40 years, through Reagan, Schlafly, Meese, Rehnquist and Scalia, climaxing in Mitch McConnell, who made a Faustian bargain to support chuckleheaded Trump to get a conservative court. Because of McConnell’s machinations blocking Merrick Garland and ramming through Amy Coney Barrett, Trump was able to name three anti-abortion conservatives to the court, all of whom prevaricated under oath before the Senate about their intentions on Roe.

When will the Democrats stop being betas? As an emotional Gavin Newsom said at Planned Parenthood’s L.A. headquarters, “Where the hell’s my party? Where’s the Democratic Party? Why aren’t we standing up more firmly, more resolutely?”

The founding fathers would be less surprised that there’s a popular musical about Alexander Hamilton than they would be that, in an age of space travel, the internet, Netflix and in vitro fertilization, the majority of the court is relying on a literal interpretation of a document conceived in the agrarian 1780s.

They would be devastated that the court is just another hack institution with partisan leaks. Alito helped open the door to dark money and helped gut the Voting Rights Act; but he wants to ban abortion largely because, he says, the Constitution doesn’t expressly allow it. That’s so fatuous. The Constitution doesn’t mention an awful lot of things that the court involves itself with. But while it expressly prohibits state-sanctioned religion, this court seems ready to let some rebel public school football coach convene a prayer session after games. These rogue justices are always ready to twist the Constitution to their purposes.

They are strict constructionists all right, strictly interested in constructing a society that comports with their rigid, religiously driven worldview. It is outrageous that five unelected, unaccountable and relatively unknown political operatives masquerading as impartial jurists can so profoundly alter our lives.

Chief Justice Roberts has been trying to protect the court’s reputation by working to split the difference on some of these explosive decisions. He may be doing that in this case. But he has lost control of a lost-its-marbles majority. To borrow an image from the great Mary McGrory, Roberts seems like a small man trying to walk a large dog. At this point, he can’t even see the end of the leash.”

—Pulitzer Prize winner, Maureen Dowd, New York Times

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