Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Good Day for Women

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

This past Monday could have been declared "Women's Day" at the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices handed down their final decisions of this Court term.  Two of those decisions dealt with women's health and safety.

First of all in the case of Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, the Court threw out the odious Texas law known as H.B. 2 which claimed to be a protection of women's health by placing extra burdens on doctors and clinics that provide abortions.  The Texas law and similar legislation in more than twenty other states are commonly known as TRAP laws - or,  Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers - and have the intended effect of making it more difficult to obtain abortions and thus reduce the numbers of those constitutionally-approved medical procedures. 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took the lead in dissembling the logic behind the Texas law.  In a separate opinion she wrote:

“It is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law ‘would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.  Laws like H. B. 2 that ‘do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion,’ … cannot survive judicial inspection.”

In another decision that broadly affects the safety of women, the Court ruled 6-2 in Voisine v. United States that domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanors can be barred from owning guns.  In so doing the Court upheld provisions of the federal Lautenberg Amendment which says that a convicted domestic abuser who persists in owning a gun can receive up to 10 years in jail.  Those opposed to the Lautenberg Amendment argued owning guns was a "constitutional right," and the Supreme Court responded that it was absolutely fine to take that "right" away due to the inherent dangers of domestic abuse.

Women now, it would seem, will have a bit more access to abortions and be somewhat safer in their own homes.  It's not a lot,  but it's a start.  Good work, Justices!

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

The problem with the ruling in Voisine will be its implementation. In Missouri, for instance, say a man gets drunk and beats the wife to a pulp. If the unhappy couple live in an unincorporated area of the county the man gets sent before either a Circuit or Associate Circuit Judge. With the same facts and the couple residing in the largest city of the county the man typically ends up before a Municipal Court Judge.

The difference here is that the Municipal Court is a court of limited jurisdiction and cannot render a misdemeanor verdict. Conviction in a Municipal Court is only an infraction. Municipal Courts do not come will all the accoutrements necessary to satisfy due process and the Sixth Amendment. These courts harken back to the old Justice of the Peace Courts were rudimentary justice was meted out.

The solution is clear. Prosecutors and law enforcement must charge domestic abusers in a fashion that lands them before a court of record. In Missouri that is the Circuit Court or its Associate Division. This will be more costly to the courts as it means a heavier caseload. The defendants too will see their expenses go up. The burden on the Public Defender system will become greater. The payoff is that eventually there will be fewer cases charging homicide and armed criminal action.

Keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers is not only a good idea, it is the law of the land.