Before the Supreme Court announced its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson, the biggest news on Capitol Hill came from the House select committee investigating January 6. The last day of the hearings revealed that Representatives Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert and Scott Perry had asked for pardons for their actions. The committee also revealed that Representative Jim Jordan asked about pardons but not for one, and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene asked the White House Counsel for one.
All of this showed that a sizeable amount of Republicans knew they had likely committed crimes and wanted clemency. On the Senate side of the Capitol — which is supposed to be more measured — firebrands like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley stoked the flames by saying they would object to the certification of the election results and Hawley famously pumped his fist at some demonstrators outside the Capitol before rioters breached the barriers.
But after the Dobbs decision, which killed Roe v Wade, conservatives began salivating at the idea of left-wing violence in response to the ruling. The rationale for such lust for abortion rights activists committing violence is clear: If leftists and liberals commit violence, then it makes what happened on January 6 seem like a normal part of the political discourse. Indeed, if things went really awry, then the left would be worse than conservatives, even rioting conservatives trying to overturn a democratic election. Now wouldn’t that be nice?
Hawley had the audacity to say on a press call after Roe v Wade was overturned that the Justice Department should adopt a “zero tolerance policy for any violence.” “I think that for too long here, Merrick Garland and Joe Biden have kind of wink-winked at this violence,” he said. The Missouri Senator mentioned instances of firebombing “pregnancy care centers” — religiously affiliated anti-abortion clinics that seek to convince women considering abortion to continue their pregnancies — and an assassination attempt against Justice Brett Kavanaugh as apparent proof.
Hawley is right that there have been attacks at anti-abortion centers, including one firebombing in Oregon and one suspected arson in Buffalo. And Nicholas Roske did travel across the country from California to Maryland to target Kavanaugh before he called authorities on himself. Both of those actions are intolerable and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But of course, Hawley immediately undermined his own words from him when he correctly stated “the president … said clearly that there should not be any violence.” What is there to rail against if Biden has already done exactly what you’re saying should be done?
Even then, in the midst of the initial protests at Supreme Court Justices’ homes, former press secretary Jen Psaki expressly condemned “violence, threats, or vandalism.”
Hawley and his ilk have given away the game. They desperately want to create a moral equivalency between any violence that might be committed in the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade — none of which has so far included riots, injuries or deaths — and the insurrection on January 6, during which multiple people were injured and died. Conservatives desperately want to draw a parallel because doing so would lead the public to believe that the violence on January 6 and the attempts to steal the presidency that preceded it are not unique to the American right’s bloodlust.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said on Fox News that “multiple Democrats” have encouraged violence, not long after the Supreme Court announced its decision. To be clear, this is not true. Even saying so requires an unadulterated amount of chutzpah on Cruz’s part, since when the insurrectionists broke onto the Senate floor on January 6, one rioter was reported at recent hearings to have said, “I think Cruz would want us to do this,” with another adding, “Him and Hawley.”
Elsewhere, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — that feckless worm who went from saying Trump bore responsibility to saying “everybody in the country bears responsibility“ for January 6 — tweeted that conservatives should pray for churches, justices and crisis pregnancy centers. McCarthy has had to carry the burden of Trump supporters turning the chamber he wishes to lead into a war zone for a long time. This is an excellent distraction tactic and a nice bit of moral posturing. Unfortunately, just like his response to the insurrection, none of it means anything at all.
And, of course, the wave of violence right-wingers kept shouting about from protesting liberals never came. As Holly Baxter witnessed in the immediate aftermath of Roe’s overturn, it did seem like right-wing provocateurs like Jacob Wohl were looking to stir up a fight outside the Supreme Court — but peaceful pro-abortion rights protesters made sure that nothing could be incited.
Right-wing media has been poisoning the brains of conservative-leaning Americans for years, claiming long before Donald Trump that Democrats can only win by cheating and voter fraud. That’s why voter suppression bills proliferated around the country after Barack Obama’s election. Trump was simply a culmination of this sentiment.
Conversely, liberals, while clearly upset about the opinion, still believe in democracy and oppose undermining institutions. Even left-wing ideas like packing the court still acknowledge the court’s legitimacy. It seems a lot of Republicans didn’t get what they wanted this week — and it’s hard to imagine that they aren’t a little disappointed.