No AOC, Roe v. Wade is Not Dred Scott
On Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) made an appearance on The Late Show to discuss the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. Her position was uncharacteristically sober and measured, a stark contrast to her past calls to fight “from the streets to the Senate” in order to obstruct Trump’s judicial nominees. Most recently, AOC joined the incensed mobs in front of the Supreme Court to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade, once again corralling the masses to get “into the streets” and declared that the SCOTUS was illegitimate while jocundly clapping like wind-up toy.
However, seated across from Democrat sycophant Stephen Colbert and supported by an audience with an active applause cue, AOC dropped her activist façade and tempered her sensationalist grandstanding by donning the hat of the lay-historian. When Colbert asked her what direction she wanted to see in the ongoing disagreement on Roe v. Wade, AOC responded: “I think uh history really informs a lot and it gives us lessons here cause this is not the first time this has happened.”
What followed was a garbled mess of historical revisionism and ignorance.
She claimed that the SCOTUS started to rule in ways designed to limit Abraham Lincoln. Her signature comparison was another act of judicial activism in Dred Scott, decided in 1857. According to AOC, a Supreme Court decision in 1857 was designed to obstruct the first Republican President elected in November of 1860, three years later and three years deep into the Civil War against the Democratic Confederacy.
This is not evidence for simple confusion; she continued down this revisionist rabbit hole, claiming that Lincoln responded to the Scott decision with the Emancipation Proclamation. According to AOC, he issued this Proclamation to bypass the “gross overreach and abuse of power” of the Supreme Court.
Lincoln issued the Proclamation in 1863, a full six years after the Scott decision. It was overturned through the adoption of the 13th Amendment, not by Presidential Proclamation.
She also name-drops Lincoln for his changes to the Supreme Court. Naturally, she omits that Lincoln added justices in order to combat the seething pro-slavery Democratic justices that remained post-secession in order to act as agent saboteurs against the anti-slavery Union and the war-making efforts of President Lincoln. Five of the remaining Democrat Justices had concurred in the dreaded Dred Scott decision, including its author, Justice Taney.
There are two possible explanations for this gross historical misrepresentation: a dangerous level of vacuity and historical illiteracy, or the willful intent to twist and pervert history in order to fit her desired thesis. Naturally a third option also presents itself: why not both?
A closer examination reveals a specificity of misattribution twisted to apply to the current sensationalism surrounding the Supreme Court and a barrage of significant decisions from the Second Amendment to the free exercise of religion.
Through these many obfuscations, AOC created a false synonymy between the overturning of Roe and the Scott decision. In doing so, she attempted to redefine Roe as a protection for civil rights, where Scott destroyed those rights by legalizing slavery. Both decisions were clear instances of judicial activism and both had disastrous consequences on American society.
With this conflation established, AOC argued for the power of a President to unilaterally overturn a SCOTUS decision. Her defense is premised on a false historical record of her own design. Under this false account, Biden should rise to the level of Lincoln and unilaterally overturn a Supreme Court decision through executive fiat. She wrapped this gross display of extra-Constitutional despotism in the reverent symbolism owed to Lincoln.
A later Freudian slip only supports this assertion. AOC also claimed that the “Green New Deal” was utilized by FDR to rescue the nation from the Great Depression. She quickly corrected herself with the requisite number of giggles, but she was not wrong in substance. The New Deal crushed the American economy and prolonged its recovery, the foreshadowed consequences of its “green” successor.
Expanding beyond her “oops” moment, AOC also claimed that FDR threatened to expand the Supreme Court as a heroic gesture against obstructionism, building on the false equivalency begun with Lincoln. In reality, FDR’s court-packing scheme was a desperate ploy by a President enraged at a court that did not acquiesce to his every edict. His strategy was partisan and selfish; he described its intent to “enlarge constitutional power” beyond the bounds of the Constitution.
This court-packing scheme was so radical that his own party rejected it outright. The Senate report described his motivations as a desire to “change the course of judicial decisions” by neutralizing opposing justices with Democrat apparatchiks and judicial activists to “expand political control.”
It would be impossible to describe the motivations of AOC and those who also support court-packing of anything other than the same.
AOC conveniently ignores another instance of court-packing intrigue in American history. In the early 1800s, a defeated Federalist party attempted to manipulate the court system to retain political control despite their electoral defeat. This proposal was defeated. Rep. John Randolph of Virginia described the “creation of new and unnecessary offices” as “an evil more to be dreaded than the abolition of useless ones.” This example could not be twisted sufficiently to fit AOC’s argument, and so she simply ignored it.
Whether ignorance of malevolence propelled her perversions of history, the intent remained the same: to falsely claim significant historical symbolism for dangerous, revolutionary policies to effect political change, championed by a giggling ignoramus who consistently summons her thralls to take “to the streets.”