The word of the day is settled. As in “The metal shavings have settled out of the engine oil,” or “The fruit has settled to the bottom of the Jell-O®,” or “He settled his fat ass in his high-backed leather desk chair, grinned mockingly, and said ‘no comment.’” But most emphatically not as in “settled issue” or “settled law.”
Yes, the reactions of various Leftists have featured the word, but none quite as memorably as that internationally lauded master of oratory Kamala Harris:
Following the historic Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, CBS News correspondent Robert Costa asked Harris on Friday whether Democrats both in the White House and in Congress “failed” to codify the federal protection of abortions in the nearly 50 years since the precedent was established.
“I think that, to be very honest with you, I do believe that we should have rightly believed, but we certainly believe that certain issues are just settled. Certain issues are just settled,” Harris responded.
“Clearly were not,” Costa replied.
“No, that’s right,” Harris said. “And that’s why I do believe that we are living, sadly, in real unsettled times.”
The shades of Daniel Webster, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli, and Marcus Tullius Cicero are no doubt thundering their applause as we speak. But I digress.
The Left uses this pseudo-conservative trope to whip up outrage whenever it faces the loss of ground it thought firmly conquered. It’s a rhetorical standby, along with “inevitable” (for policies they can’t quite enact just yet) and “here to stay” (for previously enacted policies threatened by the emergence of a strong conservative opposition). But rhetoric is all it is, for nothing decided by men is ever truly settled.
The Founding Fathers, in their most memorable legacy to us – you know, the one the Left keeps cocooning with “penumbras” and “emanations,” to keep us from reading the actual text – made plain that they accepted their own fallibility:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate. [Constitution of the United States, Article V]
If the Founding Fathers didn’t believe that the greatest product of their wisdom was “settled,” why should anyone allow himself that conceit? But then, the Democrats felt the slavery issue was settled by Chief Justice Roger Taney’s decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford, too. They dislike to be reminded of that, but it’s down in black and white.
Laws are repealed. Constitutions are amended. Governments are overthrown. Rulers previously accorded the status of demigods are put against a wall and riddled with high-velocity lead. Nothing Man decides for himself is ever settled. The triumphs of one generation are the happily rescinded mistakes of its successors. Johann Joachim Becher would tell you, but he’s dead.
As a grace note, the women who were central to the female suffrage movement were united in their opposition to abortion. They took pains to emphasize that, when accused of being covert campaigners for it. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was quite explicit on the matter:
In a view different from many modern feminists, Stanton, who supported birth control and likely used it herself, believed that both the killing of infants and abortion could be considered infanticide, a position she discussed in Revolution.
I’m sure she considered the matter settled, too.
As long as legislatures have the power to review and repeal laws and high courts have the power to strike them down, no legal question should be considered definitively decided – “settled.” For that matter, as long as the laws of this universe continue on their impersonal way toward the end of time, no human proposition can be considered beyond question – “settled.” God gets the last word, and over His head there can be no appeal.
Sigh. There’s no real satisfaction in shooting fish in a barrel, skewering a practice dummy, mocking the intellectually challenged, and so on, but “My station and its duties,” as Hegel said. A writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do, right? Well, it sounds right, anyway. Anyway, the word of the day for tomorrow will be indemnification. So be sure to tune in, same time, same station, for the next exciting episode of Sick Sad World. See you then!