Erika D. Smith

Conservatives think they’ll own the libs with Brett Kavanaugh. But California still owns morality

President Donald Trump shakes hands Monday with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has been nominated to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
President Donald Trump shakes hands Monday with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has been nominated to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. AP

So here we are California.

Donald Trump, our thrice-married president who brags about grabbing women’s genitals and engages in extramarital affairs with porn stars, has nominated a Supreme Court justice in hopes of legislating morality to those of us in the heathen blue states.

Don’t let Trump’s innocuous words about finding a jurist who would “set aside political views” fool you. And don’t be fooled by Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s establishment credentials either. By selecting the 53-year-old federal appeals court judge to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday, the president still did a solid for the angsty, liberal-hating, social conservatives who voted for him.

The only problem? California and other blue states aren’t as morally bankrupt as many Americans in red states would like think.

Sure, liberals support abortion rights and women’s rights, as guaranteed by the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that Trump would have a newly stacked high court overturn. But decades of data show that the states run by uptight social conservatives are arguably worse off than those led by leftist hippies.

Take the teen pregnancy rate.

Between 1991 and 2016, babies born to girls ages 15 to 19 dropped by a whopping 67 percent — an all-time low, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. However, when you do a little digging, you’ll find the distribution of those numbers is wholly uneven.

Red states, led by Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas, lead in teen pregnancy. Meanwhile, the rate in blue states that tend to embrace abortion rights and family planning services continues to shrink. California is, as you might have guessed, far below the national average.

And before anyone goes jumping to any conclusions about why so many babies aren’t being born, it’s not because teenagers are getting more abortions. It’s happening because birth control methods championed by blue states actually work. The abstinence-only “sex education” required in the high schools of many red states, on the other hand? Not so much.

For further evidence of the moral high ground of blue states, look no further than the divorce rate. Studies show that in states populated by religious conservatives and run by Republicans, couples split more often than in states with more liberals and progressives.

And if that weren’t convincing enough, states where social conservatives have set all the rules — think Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, West Virginia and Arizona — still rank among the nation’s highest for families with children living in poverty. That’s probably because, unlike red states, California and other blue states don’t skimp as much on the social safety net.

Not that any of that matters to Donald Trump or his trusty sidekick Vice President Mike Pence — a man who has taken evangelical Christianity to such absurd extremes that, as governor of Indiana, he signed a law that required women to choose whether to cremate or bury their aborted or miscarried fetuses.

He and other social conservatives hold such a curious — OK, ridiculous — view of the world.

It’s based on the idealistic, but ultimately unrealistic notion that if women are denied access to contraceptives and other family planning services, including abortion, they’ll suddenly decide to stop having sex and instead wait until marrying (a cisgendered man, of course) to have kids.

That would, in turn, stop children from being born out wedlock and raised in single-parent households, thereby creating a society of financially stable families and erasing the need for a government-backed social safety net.

Let’s just say this isn’t going to work the way they’ve planned — even with a newly conservative-leaning Supreme Court.

As Sen. Kamala Harris said from on the steps of the Supreme Court on Tuesday: “This is about putting the government’s authority ahead of the authority of a woman to make a decision about her own body and her future.”

All one has to do is look to a blue state, to California, to understand why, morally, this is in no one’s best interest.

Erika D. Smith: 916-321-1185, @Erika_D_Smith.

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