At a little before 9:30 this morning, Central time, I received the first notification, from The Seattle Times, which loyally keeps sending me the daily headlines, that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe. Like so many others, I burst into tears. I had harbored a slim hope, as we do when a prognosis is bad, that Roberts would soften the decision and not wipe Roe out altogether. It’s like that bad prognosis. You know that death is coming. You do your best to prepare for it, but when it happens, your heart still breaks open.
My heart did some preparatory breaking yesterday too, when the same court overturned a New York State law regarding concealed handguns, a ruling, like Roe, that will have fatal national repercussions.
I hadn’t heard about another ruling that also came down yesterday — this one that “a Miranda warning doesn’t rise to the level of a constitutional right” — until I read last night’s Bloomberg Evening Briefing. Now defendants will no longer be able to sue police for failing to read them that warning, another abridgment of our rights.
Also yesterday, the Senate passed the Safer Communities Act, the first gun control legislation to make it through in close to three decades. As Connecticut’s Senator Chris Murphy said, it’s not enough “but there’s no question that this is going to make our communities safer.” May it be so. As of May 25, there had been over 17,000 shooting fatalities in the U.S. this year. If you want to see where and how many gun deaths have occurred in the last 72 hours, the Gun Violence Archive keeps a chilling running record.
And then there was the final January 6 hearing of the month. I am grateful (it’s good to have a few things to be grateful for) that there will be more in July. But even after all the footage and the testimony, I heard people say, Yes, well, but I’d still vote for him over Biden or Harris.
I don’t understand. Or perhaps I understand too well, and it’s too painful for my mind and heart to fully assimilate. I’m working on a book that centers around letters my grandparents wrote to my mother when they were trapped in Nazi Germany. No official death certificate could ever be provided because the last that is known of them is that they were taken from their Berlin apartment and put on a train to Auschwitz.
I’ve struggled all my life to understand not only how such things could happen but how my grandmother and grandfather and all the cousins and aunts and uncles on both sides of my family lived, before they were murdered, with the knowledge of what was happening. Even if they couldn’t know the specifics of how it would unfold — and we never really do, do we? — bit by bit, their liberty and their safety was being eroded, as their society became more and more corrupted by evil masquerading as rightness.
I don’t want to say that is what is happening here. I really don’t. But over the past six years, I have come to a deeper understanding of the what and the how and what living through it was like for them. I truly wish I hadn’t.