Richard Mourdock's statement yesterday about rape and God's will, like so many other election issues, implicates the Supreme Court.
Mourdock and his allies are strongly anti-choice. The far right has been committed for a generation to populating our nation's courts with ideologues who will empower them to use government to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else. Most prominently, rather than letting a woman decide for herself whether to terminate a pregnancy consistent with her constitutional right to privacy, they have pushed for judges who will water down and ultimately reverse Roe v .Wade.
So while a strong majority of the Supreme Court recognized the constitutional right to choose an abortion in 1973, today's Court is hostile to reproductive freedom. Abortion rights have already been significantly circumscribed, and Mitt Romney has promised that if he is elected, he will nominate Justices like Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and John Roberts. A change in just one Justice will consign the constitutional right to abortion to history.
Similarly, despite the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, the religious right demands the right to codify their hostility to gays and lesbians into law. The Supreme Court will almost certainly decide this term whether the federal government can refuse to recognize state-recognized marriages of lesbian and gay couples. But they may punt the larger issue of whether states that continue to restrict marriage to heterosexuals are acting consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment. How the Court decides will likely be determined by whether it is Barack Obama or Mitt Romney who nominates the next two or three Justices.
There's a reason that the far right is willing to let Mitt Romney pretend to be a moderate as the campaign heads toward Election Day. They know that if he becomes president – and especially if he is backed with a Republican-controlled Senate – the Supreme Court will be in their hands for a generation.