After fifty years of access to safe and legal abortions, the Supreme Court seems poised to strike down Roe v. Wade, in a major blow to reproductive rights for millions of Americans. Republicans don’t plan to stop there, however. In an incredibly reprehensible and disgustingly cruel move, Texas GOP Governor Greg Abbott is claiming he will challenge a 1982 ruling that required free public education for all children in the United States regardless of immigration status.
As conservatives see an opening to look at old precedents, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas may target a 1982 Supreme Court decision requiring schools to educate all children. https://t.co/28WFB0NS8P
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 6, 2022
The forty-year decision that allowed access to public education to all children residing in the United States is Plyler v Doe, and it actually involved Texas suing the federal government over this same issue. The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that a revision to education laws involving the state withholding education funds for immigrant children and authorizing school districts to deny enrollment for those students was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause within the Fourteenth Amendment and that such a policy would create a distinct underclass.
Even the dissenting justices admitted that it was “senseless for an enlightened society to deprive any children — of an elementary education.”
It’s clear that Republicans are looking at the Supreme Court’s looming overturning of Roe v. Wade as an invitation to challenge other legal precedents that block their extremist right-wing and theocratic agenda. We can expect a full frontal judicial attack on birthright citizenship to come next and legal scholars have warned the same legal reasoning used to strike down abortion access could lead to the striking down of landmark decisions like Obergefell, which requires states to recognize same-sex marriage, or Griswold, which allowed the buying and use of contraceptives without government restriction.
During a radio interview with conservative host Joe Pagliarulo, Abbott said undocumented children place a “real burden on communities” when they attend public schools. This is the same guy who calls himself “pro-life” because of his deep concern regarding an unborn fetus but regards children as a “burden” if they lack documentation. Abbott calls himself a Christian, I would recommend that he re-read his bible and zero in on this passage:
“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” — Leviticus 19:34
I often wonder how people like Greg Abbott reconcile the loving teachings of Jesus Christ with their hateful worldview. Does anyone believe that Jesus Christ would approve of denying children an education because of their immigration status? How anyone goes to sleep at night while working to do that is beyond me.
Abbott claims that education “expenses” are too great for the state of Texas to bear when it comes to undocumented children and that denying them an education will serve as a deterrent. First of all, no it won’t, deterrence tactics to curtail immigration have never and will never work. Second, it is revealing that Republicans consistently refer to education as an expense as opposed to an investment. Educating children and giving them an opportunity to get ahead in life while contributing back to our society is not just the right thing, to do, it’s the smart thing to do in terms of building a diverse and reliable workforce, and people like Greg Abbott are too stupid to see that.
While Abbott might claim that this is about fiscal concerns, his record shows that he doesn’t care about spending a whole lot of government money when it serves his political agenda. Texas has spent billions of dollars on Abbott’s idiotic antics serving as red meat to his Republican voting base, like the Operation Lone Star stunt, which forced thousands of soldiers to the southern border to do nothing and cost taxpayers $2 billion a year. He implemented a now rescinded policy that forced commercial vehicles to undergo redundant inspections that turned up nothing and resulted in $4 billion in losses to the Texas economy.
Republicans like Greg Abbott don’t really care about Christianity, fiscal responsibility, small government, or any sort of coherent ideology. They only care about themselves and their own political gain. They have nothing to offer the public in terms of an actual political agenda that will better their lives or material conditions, so they demagogue and try to pit working-class communities against each other. They will stoop so low as to try and deny children an education. When you think they can’t go lower, they find a way.
You can follow Thomas Kennedy’s tweets at @tomaskenn
is a reported opinion columnist and roving correspondent. He's an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Florida and a Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.