Home Liberal In the GOP’s New Surveillance State, Everyone’s a Snitch (Mother Jones)

In the GOP’s New Surveillance State, Everyone’s a Snitch (Mother Jones)


In the GOP’s New Surveillance State, Everyone’s a Snitch – By Pema Levy (Mother Jones) / July 28, 2022

From abortion to schools, conservatives are depending on everyday citizens to spy on one another.

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It was a cold, blustery weekend in February when Neesha Davé opened the door to her Austin, Texas, home and found a process server standing on her front step. She felt sympathy for the woman waiting in the morning wind and rain, even after she awkwardly handed Davé a 30-page document they both knew was bad news. For months, Davé had prepared for the possibility that this day might come. She read through the document, then scanned each page with her phone, and sent it to her lawyers.

The document was a request to depose Davé because, as the deputy director of Lilith Fund, she helps pregnant people in Texas obtain abortions. Beginning on September 1, 2021, abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy were banned in Texas under a law known as Senate Bill 8, or SB8. At the time, abortions in roughly the first half of pregnancy were a constitutionally protected right under Roe v. Wade. SB8 sought to outflank Roe by placing the task of enforcing its ban on individuals rather than the state of Texas. Under the new law, any individual can sue anyone they suspect of helping a pregnant person get an abortion in Texas after six weeks, for a minimum of $10,000 in damages. This vigilante scheme was meant to stop SB8 from being overturned by courts, despite its blatant violation of Roe; if the state can’t enforce its abortion ban, the law’s proponents argue, then a court can’t order them not to enforce it, either.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe on June 24, the legal status of abortion in Texas was thrown into chaos. The specifics are still working their way through the courts, but what is clear is that abortions are banned with almost no exception. Texas’ 1925 abortion ban is now in effect once again: performing abortions is illegal, as is helping someone obtain an abortion, opening anyone caught helping to end a pregnancy to fines and lawsuits. A second ban enacted last year will take effect on August 25th with draconian punishments for abortion providers.

SB8 helps enforce this post-Roe regime: It allows vigilantes to piggyback on any cases brought under the bans and win civil suits with ample bounties. Vigilantes can also go after anyone involved in a suspected abortion without a prosecutor’s involvement, meaning that even in the state’s liberal enclaves where elected prosecutors have promised not to prosecute abortion cases, SB8 will allow individuals to become the enforcers.

CONTINUE > https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2022/07/in-the-gops-new-surveillance-state-everyones-a-snitch/

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