Before I get to portion of the column that I had anticipated I would write, I will digress. On June 26, I went on the Discover Hudson Valley Bike Ride. Originally, there was going to be a 100-, 75-, 55-, 33-, or 15-mile route. The week before, I had ridden 88 miles on various bike paths both ways from Yonkers to Brewster. I figured that the 75-mile route would be the best choice. Unlike the week before, when it was relatively cool, this past Sunday it ended up being in the 90s. In anticipation, the 100-mile route was cancelled, and the start times were moved up. I still decided to go with the 75-mile ride.
When I started, I thought to myself how fortunate I was that at my age I could ride 88 miles last week and now 75 miles. There are many people around my age who have various physical ailments that make it impossible to do so. One of them mentioned on Shabbos about a health incident that happened five years ago when he was younger than I am today.
During the Sunday ride, after I entered the town of Pleasant Valley, my left Achilles tendon started to bother me. It was also starting to get hot. At one of the rest areas at the 36-mile marker, I had a choice of whether to finish the ride with the 55-mile portion or go another 20 miles in a loop and then go back to the end of the ride. I ended up doing the additional 20 miles. While riding the 20 miles, I realized that I should not monkey around in dealing with my condition. My Achilles tendon was so painful that I was unable to ride up any hill. Thus, I had to walk my bike up every hill.
By the time I returned to the same rest stop, I knew that it was not a smart idea to continue. They have a SAG (Support and Gear) vehicle to take back to the base bikers on the route who are unable to continue due to mechanical failure, injury, or other medical issues such as dehydration. After waiting close to an hour, I was taken along with another rider back to the base. My bike brake was broken because they had to put another bike on top of it. I ended up going the same 55 miles I would have gone if I had made the right decision earlier. There are many things to take away from this story. Listen to your body. If it is telling you something is wrong do not ignore it. Do not take anything for granted.
I did some research when I returned home. It appears that I have Achilles tendonitis. One of the remedies is rest. However, time is not on my side, since I will already be losing another two Sundays this summer due to 17th of Tammuz and Tishah B’Av. Hopefully, it will heal quickly.
Now to the article I expected to write. I will not go into detail about the Supreme Court’s determination overturning Roe v. Wade since I had addressed it in a column entitled “Courting Disaster” in the May 11 issue of the Queens Jewish Link, right after the draft majority opinion by Justice Alito was leaked. I will just make additional comments that relate to the concurring opinions.
Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion has gotten much attention since he argues that if you conclude as the Court did that there are no substantive due process rights under the 14th amendment to allow abortion, then it should also apply to other cases, such as same sex marriage, sodomy laws, and contraception, which have relied on substantive due process. None of these rights are explicitly stated in the constitution. The majority’s argument distinguishing abortion, since it involves a potential life or life of unborn child (terminology depends on which side of the issue), is intellectually dishonest. Either there is or there is not substantive due process rights.
Another of the concurring opinions was from Chief Justice Roberts, who only wanted the Court to address the case before it instead of deciding whether to overrule Roe v. Wade. This approach probably would have carried the day but for one event: In February 2016, Justice Scalia died. Then, D.C. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held up the vote on his nomination because he argued that it would be unfair to vote on a Supreme Court nomination in an election year. It should be left up to the new president. Of course, that did not stop McConnell from voting on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination even though she was nominated by the president who had just lost the election.
If Garland, instead of Gorsuch, had been on the Court, then it would have been a five to four vote. The Chief Judge being the deciding vote could have forced the other four judges to go his way.
As important as Garland’s being on the Supreme Court would have been, his current position is more significant. As Attorney General, Garland is going to have to decide who to prosecute for their conduct related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the attempt to overturn the election including but not limited to false electors scheme, pressuring the DOJ to put out a prelease release falsely claiming election irregularities, knowingly making false claims of election fraud, attempting to influence state officials to engage in illegal conduct, raising funds under false pretenses that it was for fighting the fraudulent election, and falsely claiming that the vice president had the right to de facto decide who should be the next president.
No former president has ever been charged with a crime for conduct that occurred while he was president. Merrick Garland is an institutionalist. He is not a politician acting as the highest law enforcement official. I have confidence that he will make the right choice and not let political pressure influence his decision. Even if Trump is never charged, I anticipate that just like with Watergate, many individuals besides those who attacked the Capitol on January 6 will be charged with a crime. Just like with Watergate, it will reach high levels in the Trump administration. Those who celebrated Garland not being appointed to the Supreme Court may come to regret that he was not appointed once they see how he acts as Attorney General.