No Privacy for SCOTUS
If my body isn’t private, your house sure as fuck isn’t
Last Wednesday, less than two weeks after voting to overturn Roe and strip away the rights of half the American population, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was forced to leave a DC steakhouse by jeering protesters. In what’s become a familiar whining refrain, conservatives expressed outrage that a powerful man might be held even lightly accountable for his actions, calling the peaceful demonstration ‘harassment’ and “illegal intimidation.”
Somehow, we’re meant to believe that Kavanaugh—responsible for rolling back decades of progress for women—was the real victim because he had to leave before finishing his dessert.
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It’s exhausting that it needs to be said again, but here it is: If my body isn’t private, your meal sure isn’t. And if the state wants to force women into childbirth—a life-threatening, humiliating, and torturous mandate—they don’t get to only hear about it during office hours.
Conflating protests with harassment has become a top three conservative talking point since the Trump administration, when then-officials like Sarah Sanders and Kirstjen Nielsen were heckled or asked to leave restaurants because of the role they played in family separation at the border. Now that Roe has been overturned, leaving millions of women without vital healthcare and basic human rights, the ‘debate’ has re-emerged.
What’s so frustrating—outside of the obvious hypocrisy—is that this isn’t just an argument coming from the Right. As was the case during the Trump years, when some Democrats called for ‘civility’ in the face of horrific human rights abuses, liberals like Marcus are feeding into the lie that protests are akin to persecution.
“It should be possible to find ways to express justified outrage at the conservative justices without terrorizing them and their families,” she wrote. Terrorizing? Really?
I’ve written about calls for politeness and civility more times than I care to remember, and two through-lines remain the same:
When the powerful are peacefully targeted, it’s ‘harassment’; when the powerless are deprived of basic rights, it’s ‘politics’.
Those who argue that Americans need to separate politicians’ or judges’ private lives from their votes are generally those whose lives and freedoms are not on the line. (As Leah Greenberg put it on Twitter, “it’s clear that certain op-Ed boards and prominent commentators find it much easier to put themselves in the shoes of a Supreme Court Justice eating at a nice steakhouse than a scared clinic patient trying to access care.”)
These issues are not cocktail party chatter for us; they’re our lives. So when someone claims that protesting at a Justice’s home or meal crosses a line, remember this: The boundaries of political etiquette are made-up, crafted by the powerful to protect their interests while allowing the rest of us to believe we’re somehow influencing them through our polite reserve.
Why would I fight by a set of rules created by those who made me a second-class citizen? Why would I accept anything said by a country who enshrined my non-personhood? If I’m not a full human being, what the fuck does it matter if I’m outside your house?
We are not bound to rules of engagement created by the people who codify our oppression.
Being polite is what they want. They want us to shut up and take it, to protest in the proper way at the right time and in the right place—all while they force our daughters into childbirth and arrest doctors trying to help women.
Civility will get us nowhere. And if American women can’t escape what SCOTUS has done, they shouldn’t be able to either.