The Supreme Court Wants Privacy? So Do We.

If the bipartisan civility police wants to talk about "privacy" following protests at Justice Kavanaugh's house, then let's fucking talk about privacy.

The Supreme Court Wants Privacy? So Do We.
Photo:Kevin Dietsch (Getty Images)

Last week, we learned the Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, and anyone with a soul was, predictably, quite pissed. People with wombs are about to be reduced to state-controlled ovens, subject to greater surveillance and criminalization than we were before. And now we’re being shushed and told to remain civil and respect the privacy of the SCOTUS justices who are ripping away our bodily rights against the will of the majority of the public. Perfect!

Over the weekend, led by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s own neighbors, abortion rights protesters gathered outside his home to protest his vote to strike down Roe in a leaked draft of the upcoming Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision. The protest has sparked the usual pearl-clutching from both conservatives and the notably bipartisan civility police, who objected to this supposedly tremendous attack on Kavanaugh’s safety and privacy rights. On Monday night, the Senate passed a security bill for Supreme Court justices’ family members—all while federal legislation to protect abortion rights has stalled.

To state the obvious, extremely powerful people who are eliminating our human rights do not deserve a single moment’s peace. If you think confronting public officials about the material consequences of their dehumanizing policies is “violent,” but the government forcing people to be pregnant and forcing doctors to penetrate us with medically unnecessary ultrasound wands somehow isn’t, then you should just admit that you value rich people’s comfort over women, people of color, queer and trans people, and poor people’s lives. Peaceful protest is, if anything, a gentle, level-headed response, considering the responses that would actually be proportional to government officials coming for our bodies and lives.

But if the civility police wants to talk about privacy, fine, let’s fucking talk about privacy.

It’s nothing if not ironic to see people suggest the anti-abortion justices deserve the very protections from protesters that they denied to abortion providers and patients—who are actually endangered, harassed and physically harmed by protesters on a daily basis—in the 2014 decision McCullen v. Coakley, which struck down clinics’ right to maintain buffer zones to protect from anti-abortion protesters. As Jezebel’s Caitlin Cruz noted last week amid conservatives’ batshit, revisionist histories about anti-abortion activists being “peaceful” despite opposing Roe, since 1977, there have been at least 11 murders and 26 attempted murders of abortion providers, not to mention 42 bombings of clinics and homes, 194 incidents of arson (including the recent burning of a Tennessee Planned Parenthood clinic), and routine stalking, doxing, and threats. But, sure! The real problem is a couple noisy broads stepping on Kavanaugh’s lawn!

This is a country in which, just last week, it was reported that a private location data firm was selling the data of people who go to abortion clinics for as cheap as $160; where the websites of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers are collecting our private health data; where state health directors have tracked Planned Parenthood patients’ menstrual cycles on spreadsheets. This is a country in which 11 states have laws that require people seeking abortion care to have ultrasounds—or, in less gentle terms, laws that force doctors to penetrate pregnant people with ultrasound wands for medically unnecessary, purely political reasons. This is a country where 46 states and DC require some form of reporting abortions to the state, and fetal burial laws require people to get death certificates for aborted fetuses, entering their abortions into the public record.

While we’re on the subject of privacy, let’s talk about Republicans trying to make some of us personally ask our bosses if we want birth control covered in our employee health insurance plans! And if you’re an employee at the handful of companies (which have all donated hundreds of thousands to anti-abortion politicians) offering to cover costs of abortion and abortion-related travel, you’ll have to tell your bosses about that, too! Let’s talk about how the end of Roe means opening the door for the end of same-sex marriage, even the literal policing of sex positions. As Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel—the state’s first openly gay person to hold this position—told Jezebel earlier this year:

“It’s a 15-year felony not just to have same-sex intimate relationships, [but] our sodomy statute basically prohibits everything but missionary sex. So oral sex and anal sex, to have those types of sexual acts with your legally consenting spouse, you could theoretically go to prison for up to 15 years—it’s the same [penalty] as sex by force.”

The Supreme Court is quite literally in our bedrooms and our uteruses; it’s ruled in support of anti-abortion protesters screaming in our faces if we try to enter a reproductive health clinic, perhaps for an abortion, perhaps for a breast cancer screening. But alas, silly me! The real problem is that protesters are making Brett Kavanaugh, accused of sexual assault by several women, a little uncomfortable by stepping on his lawn. The real problem, we’re told, is that someone violated the Supreme Court’s privacy by leaking the draft Dobbs opinion—that is the crime the FBI is being directed to investigate, not the relegation of women and pregnant-capable people to second-class citizens. No, the real safety concern is that security had to erect barricades around the court because anti-abortion justices who see us as less deserving of rights than our fetuses are afraid of being confronted on this.

It’s not just privacy—those who are outraged by the protests at Kavanaugh’s home also seem to fundamentally misunderstand what constitutes violence. Violence is children going to bed hungry in a country that refuses to tax billionaires. Violence is a higher education system so wildly unaffordable that predominantly poor people of color have no other viable options but to enlist in the US military, into which the US poured $801 billion last year alone. And violence is sure as hell the highest maternal mortality rate among wealthy nations, higher maternal mortality rates in states with more abortion restrictions, Black women being 243% more likely than white women to die from pregnancy and birth-related complications.

Never forget: Nearly every anti-abortion Supreme Court justice who’s voted to end Roe lied at their confirmation hearings that they would respect the precedent. Yes, we all knew they were lying. But lying under oath is perjury, as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and others have pointed out, which is a federal crime for which poor people of color would be jailed without a second thought. If not jail, if not impeachment, then at the very fucking least, these morally bankrupt ghouls deserve to be screamed at every day for the rest of their lives.

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