Letter to the editor: Dobbs and Dred

To the editor:

Of the recent vote, the Los Angeles Times wrote: “Voters have shown they will use the ballot box to win back what should never have been lost.” The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson is deeply unpopular, coupled with a spate of state laws that ignore the will of “a majority of Americans [who] support the right to abortion.”

The 1857 decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford was also deeply unpopular. Of Dred Scott, Lincoln said, free men will never accept being forced to live amid slavery. He concluded, whatever the power of the Supreme Court, Americans can never be forced to give up fundamental rights.

The next year, June 1858, during his Senate race against Stephen A. Douglas (the namesake of Douglas County) Lincoln declared: “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” a turn of phrase Lincoln took from Gospel. Dred Scott, he said, had “compounded” the papered-over but never resolved problem of slavery. In truth, Dred Scott ripped the paper open. Douglas attacked Lincoln for sowing discord in a country drifting apart. Many thought the speech cost Lincoln the election. But like Lincoln, we now see Dred Scott as an inflection point.

Americans today are reacting to Dobbs like they did to Dred Scott in 1857. Women, and young voters, are particularly energized. Pundits thought the wave had crested with the Kansas abortion vote last August and come November voters could be distracted with shinier objects, like crime and inflation, or discouraged with lies like voter fraud.

That’s what feels so good. We weren’t.

William Skepnek,



Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.