Division continues to grow across our nation, and the principles of our founding, and those who gave their lives to keep and pass them on to future generations, are being marginalized and forgotten by a fervent, swift and deafening narrative perpetuated by moral posturing that is not bound by a principled foundation.
I surmise that much of the social and political turmoil felt this year stemmed from decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court. Year after year, our highest court in the land makes massive constitutional judgments, but they often gain little public debate. Perhaps it is because the topics don’t always offer political points in an election, or ratings on a news network, but that’s a topic for another day.
After the unprecedented leak of a potential Supreme Court decision sparked intense public debate, the Court made the official ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that held, “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
Just like that, nearly 50 years of settled case law is upended by a majority of the court, and thus sparked a renewed debate between protecting the life of the unborn versus the individual right of women to decide what is best for themselves, their family and their child.
The day before this, the Supreme Court upended the “Good or Proper Cause” requirement as set forth by the state of New York, California, and others, as being unconstitutional, for violating the 14th Amendment for preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense. Not since the Heller decision of 2008, and perhaps the first ever of its kind, the Supreme Court unequivocally stated the Constitution allows citizens to carry firearms outside of their home for the purpose of self-defense and did not need to justify to the government that they had a good reason to do so.
At a time in our history where gun violence dominates headlines, and our own community seeing the devastation it can bring to our children, our families and our schools, affirming constitutional rights to the people brings less solace, but more political polarization and public safety consternation.
Whether these decisions are right or wrong will be debated for as long as we remain a nation, and those debates can be healthy and productive if we choose for them to be. The one positive point I took from each of these decisions is how the laws we pass in this country at all levels must always follow the Constitution, a set of rules that cannot be changed simply by the feeling of the time or by any political party, but by the majority of the people in a specific way.
When Roe vs. Wade established a constitutional right to abortion, many supporters of a woman’s right to choose, including former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, believed the court’s actions would allow people to fight this issue another way. Instead of having debates in the legislature, the court let opponents focus on the decision of unelected judges. We should all fight for what we believe in, but if you remove the constitutional foundation in which we wage war on the social and political issues of our time, then you allow elected officials to deflect responsibility for their office to someone else that, quite frankly, is meant to be the messenger.
To those who see these decisions as more than constitutional victories, but moral ones, I would ask you to take pause. Morals and righteous acts cannot be legislated and forced on the people. Gun violence, and the debate over abortion, will never be solved in Congress, at the state capitols, or at city hall.
Morality, faith, and human decency are not legislated, they are taught. By family, by community, by faith, and by the beliefs that make up your foundation. If that foundation does not exist, and you put your faith in government to be the moral arbiter of what is right and wrong, history teaches us you will be let down.
No matter how much you applaud or disdain these decisions, don’t let that be an excuse to stop being decent to people. Our world is working overtime to place us into a state of being binary. But people are not so simple.
You can believe life is sacred, but feel women should be that final arbiter based on what happened in their life to bring them to this moment.
You can believe guns have no place in public, but still respect that our founders saw what the disarmament of the people can do to the pursuit of liberty and freedom.
There is no limit to how diverse, similar, complex and simple people can be. But no matter where you fall, remember everyone has a place and a right to be there! We celebrate together, we disagree together, we succeed, and we fail together.
If we all approach these difficult questions with respect for one another, we may just surprise ourselves with what we can accomplish.
Jason Gibbs is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.