A sparsely attended rally Tuesday suggested people may be more resigned than fired up about the coming rightward tilt of the Supreme Court. But if the past is any guide, get ready for an era of sex-obsessed moralism.

Share story

In downtown Seattle on Tuesday, protesters rallied for what they hope will be the beginning of a massive fight to save reproductive-privacy rights for women in this country.

“Protect Roe,” read the signs outside the federal building, referring to the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that gave women the right to choose whether to have an abortion.

“We Won’t Go Back,” read another sign. “The Time to Fight? NOW!”

But only about 40 people showed up for the rally, which was a call to reject the newest U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Beforehand, attendees noted on Facebook that even in lefty Seattle, with an appearance by big-liberal-draw Attorney General Bob Ferguson, there curiously still wasn’t much interest.

“It looks like there are not many attending …” one woman worried. “How can we better rally the troops to save (the Supreme Court)?”

I don’t want to get too judgmental here, because 40 people voicing their political objections is better than nothing. But it sure feels like the fight for Roe is already lost.

It’s going to be either overturned or whittled away to meaninglessness. That doesn’t mean abortion will stop (far from it), or that there won’t eventually be a political backlash to having conservative extremists dictating reproductive policy to a socially liberalizing society. But right now it feels like the so-called fight is more of a resigned whimper.

It shouldn’t be, because what’s happening is a victory for a certain strain of sex-obsessed moralism.

How can I say that? Well, in my home all these years I have kept a copy of the infamous “Starr Report,” the account that called for the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton in 1998. I keep it as a reminder of how far off the rails we can go when a moralizing government intrudes in matters of sex.

I was a reporter covering Congress and the White House back then, and the Starr Report is easily the biggest abuse of power I’ve seen. Not by the smarmy, immoral president, who lied about his affair. But by the prosecutors, who, with their initial investigations at dead ends, poured the police powers of the federal government into entrapping and trying to coerce a damning account from what turned out to be just a sex fling.

Talk about a witch-hunt. If you don’t believe me, read the Starr Report afresh. It’s one of the most absurd documents in U.S. political history. It’s like a soft-core porn Harlequin penned by a quivering Inspector Javert.

And one of its lead authors was none other than … Brett Kavanaugh. That he is now described as having “impeccable” credentials is historical amnesia, as nobody involved in the total lack of judgment and perspective of the Starr Report should be allowed anywhere near the U.S. Supreme Court.

The only redeeming feature of the entire Starr affair was that the disgusted public basically concluded the prosecutors were more out of control than the perp (and he was pretty out of control). That makes it even more boggling that 20 years later, the team of sex-fixated gumshoes has produced a high-court nominee.

In any case, it’s a strange artifact of our polarized politics that as America gets more socially liberal (broadly accepting of same-sex marriage, pot legalization, and, yes, abortion rights), the high court is ever more under the control of an extreme moralist minority. It means the likely end of Roe, but it could also lead to religiously inspired curbs on birth control.

Maybe people in Seattle aren’t taking to the streets because we’re in a blue state, and we can just provide our own reproductive services. In fact I would bet that if Roe gets overturned, liberal charities will crop up to raise millions of dollars to pay for red-state women to come to places like Seattle to get abortions.

But it’s incredible that this is what it may come to. What a waste that’s going to be of a modern country’s energy and resources. Just like the Starr crusade in the late 1990s, though dramatically more disruptive.

“Keep your stinking laws off my body,” read another of the signs at Tuesday’s sparse protest.

If the past is any guide, they won’t. They’re obsessed and can’t help themselves.