Politically speaking, given Ohio’s divisions, that’d be like lighting a match near gasoline, with mass demonstrations and the like at the Statehouse, thronged committee hearings and marathon floor debates – all unfolding amid a male-dominated, still-gerrymandered, legislature in an Ohio whose population, the Census says, is 51% female.
Alito’s draft stressed that assigning a state’s full authority over abortion didn’t mean that the high court would also let the 50 states individually decide whether to obey or ignore other Supreme Court opinions. A good example: Obergefell vs. Hodges, the case, originating in Ohio, that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. “Nothing in this [draft] opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,” the Alito draft reads.
Really? There’s a word for someone who thinks that canning Roe vs. Wade (decided almost a half-century ago) wouldn’t threaten Obergefell (decided seven years ago June): Naïve.
And when, not if, the (gerrymandered) legislature acted to all-but-ban abortion in Ohio, legislators would surely strive to insulate – by some parliamentary gimmick – the in-Ohio ban from going to the ballot via voter-petitioned referendum.
That’s why pro-life as well as pro-choice voters should focus on this year’s elections for the Ohio Supreme Court, where lawsuits over any abortion-ban laws would likely end up. Of course, incumbent justices and people running for justice can’t say what stances they’d take on a post-Alito Ohio abortion ban. But cues (wink, wink) and endorsements wouldn’t be scarce.
Of course, all that assumes DeWine is reelected. He is certainly the most determined anti-abortion governor Ohio has had.
Be it noted, though, that former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, whom Democrats nominated on Tuesday to challenge DeWine, is 100% pro-choice, which could make of November’s gubernatorial election a kind of Ohio referendum on abortion, if the U.S. Supreme Court does overturn Roe, whether wholly, as the Alito draft would have it, or partially, in a compromise Chief Justice John Roberts is said to seek.
Especially if the court opts for Alito’s draft, or something close, fasten your seat belts, Ohioans: Your ride to November will be bumpy.
Thomas Suddes is an adjunct assistant professor at Ohio University and the former Statehouse reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.