by Max Brantley
It occurred to me in the middle of the night what the game may be on Sen. Jason Rapert's unconstitutional bill to ban abortions from 12 weeks of a pregnancy on.
I think he knows it's unconstitutional. I think he knows it will be quickly mooted by a lawsuit if it passes. I don't think he cares how much money the state will pay in the process or the offense being done to women's medical rights. Fetuses, even microscopic potential fetuses in the hours after sex, are more important to the anti-abortion crowd than women.
I think this part of the bill is the key:
20-16-1307. Tolling of effective date.
If a state or federal court of competent jurisdiction voids a provision of this subchapter as unconstitutional, the effective date of that provision shall be tolled until that provision has been upheld as valid by an appellate tribunal.
This embodies the same philosophy in the constitutional amendment by which Arkansas prohibited state expenditures on abortion. That amendment also is aimed at making abortion illegal in Arkansas should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned and power to prohibit abortions given to the state. It says life, from conception, must be protected to the extent allowed by the federal constitution. Rapert's bill contains a more specific failsafe, a statutory complement to execute the amendment at least in part come the day a Religionist Republican Supreme Court takes women's rights away.
This type of legislating opens up all kinds of opportunities for the Arkansas legislature. We could pass laws to permit school segregation, should an appellate tribunal ever allow it. We could pass laws permitting discrimination on the basis of gender, age or religion, should a federal court ever see the light. We could legalize debtors' prisons and incarceration without trial, should the namby pambys on the Supreme Court ever see the light. These bills would be as empty legally as Rapert's, but the field is rich with opportunities to score points with the base.