June 28, 2022

Tumult ahead

There’s only one issue roiling the political landscape now and that is the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to strike down the federally protected right to abortion. For women, in particular, the impact of the decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is incalculable, whatever position on abortion one may embrace.

The Current’s Kate Griem and Sonia Chajet Wides have a detailed, often harrowing take on what the decision means for Georgia’s women.

Politically speaking, how will the decision affect Coastal Georgia? Will it help or hurt the Republican Party, which holds sway here? What form will the predicted backlash to the decision take? How much will Georgia’s Democrats benefit, if at all, starting with gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams?

The simple, albeit unsatisfying, answer to these questions: It’s too early to say. We’ll venture a guess, though: The decision will have repercussions far beyond the mid-term elections, even the 2024 presidential elections, starting with the public’s perception of the role of the Supreme Court and what rulings on same-sex marriage and contraception might follow Roe v. Wade’s demise.

abortion protest Ga capitol
Protesters gathered outside the Georgia Capitol on Friday evening after the Supreme Court ruling. Credit: Riley Bunch/GPB News

Battle lines

Following is a sample of opinion that points to the contours of the battles ahead in Coastal Georgia:

“Millions of children have been silent victims of a decades-long siege on their right to life. The heartbeats heard in ultrasound appointments have now been heard by the Justice of the Supreme Court, and we finally have a nation that honors the humanity of unborn children. . . . Abortion is not health care. Today, and every day, life wins!” — Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter

“The Supreme Court made the wrong decision to overturn well-established law based on the fundamental right of privacy. I trust women to make healthcare choices about their bodies. Reproductive rights are healthcare rights. Now that the Supreme Court has reversed Roe v. Wade, Congress must act to restore reproductive rights.” — Wade Herring, Democratic nominee for Georgia’s U.S. House, District 1

I am grateful today for the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States giving each state the ability to legislate the availability of abortion services. . . . As today’s news may spark unrest, I pray that we can be united in peace as a people, recognizing not our differences but our common dignity given to us by our Creator.” — Bishop Stephen D. Parkes, Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah

“I support [the Supreme Court’s decision], but I think it’s one of those issues that people have always used to polarize us. . . But we are responsible for the unborn. We are supposed to protect and take care of them. I strongly believe that. But at the same time, we don’t want to hurt and abuse people for their decisions.” — Blythe Island Baptist Church Pastor Tim Brown

Wade Herring
Wade Herring Credit: Craig Nelson/The Current

Herring: Can he do it again?

If Wade Herring is to have any chance of pulling another upset this November, winning over Coastal Georgia’s Black voters will be crucial. If his stumbles during the primary are any indication, it won’t be easy, The Current’s Craig Nelson writes.

Herring’s come-from-behind win over Joyce Griggs? “It was race and gender—identity politics—that loomed most over the Democratic primary from the start, not policy differences.”

“He has a Black community problem,” a Black woman deeply involved in Coastal Georgia politics said bluntly of what she and other Black voters, Black government and party officials and Black political operatives described as a series of miscalculations by the Herring camp during the primary.

In an interview, Herring defended his relationship to the Black community. He described his pro bono legal work and cases for Black community organizations dating back decades. As for the pique among some Black voters over his frequent references to his campaign’s fundraising success, Herring described fundraising as his “least favorite task.”

But, he said, he has little choice but to raise money at a fast clip. Rep. Carter’s campaign war chest stands above $2 million. “I’ve got to be able to respond, and that’s just the reality. Believe me, I wish that was not true.”

Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter Credit: Craig Nelson/The Current

We’re wondering, too

A loyal reader called our attention to Rep. Carter’s vote last week against the new firearms bill, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The reader noted that the new law implements extended background checks for those under 21, further criminalizes arms trafficking and straw purchases of guns, and provides funding to the states for red flag laws and other crisis intervention programs.

The bill passed by a vote of 234-193. No word yet on why Carter wasn’t among the 14 Republicans who voted in favor of the legislation along with 220 Democrats.

Speaking of loyal readers… a heads-up to all of you: The next issue of Soundings will be July 12, 2022. Happy 4th of July!

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Craig Nelson

Craig Nelson is a former international correspondent for The Associated Press, the Sydney (Australia) Morning-Herald, Cox Newspapers and The Wall Street Journal. He also served as foreign editor for The...