What can one say, even as a citizen of another country, other than to share the anger and sorrow that in the past few days the Supreme Court of the United States looks to have destroyed decades of progress towards a better, more humane, society.

Last Tuesday, the 6:3 conservative, and seemingly very activist, court started off by ruling that a state cannot exclude religious schools from tuition programs. The fact that states must - not can, but must - now subsidise religious organisations is particularly controversial for a country that makes a big deal of the separation of church and state.

Or as Justice Sotomayor put it in her dissent:

I feared that the Court was leading us to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment… Today, the Court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation

Then on Thursday, following 2 very high profile mass shootings in the past few weeks (and another 283 mostly less profile such events catalogued so far this year), the court ruled that New York’s 100+ year old law that you should have a license and a specific reason if you want to carry a gun in a public space is illegitimate. Thus New Yorkers, and potentially in the future residents in another seven states with similar laws, will likely have to go about their business in the knowledge that anyone in their vicinity may have a concealed and loaded gun and, well, that’s just how it is.

Finally, on Friday, the leak became policy. Roe vs Wade has been overturned, against the wishes of most Americans - even most religious Americans.

And with that so too the constitutional right for US citizens to have access to abortion. As we knew, nearly a quarter of states had “trigger laws” already in place with the purpose of banning safe and legal abortion in the case that this decision was made. And at least another quarter are thought likely to ban abortion, such that anyone who may become pregnant in around half of the US states just lost their right to self-determination, potentially their quality of their life, or, in the most awful cases, their life itself.

In the past few decades, countries have tended to move towards democracy, equal rights for women, and with that most often increasing access to abortion. The US appears to be moving in the opposite direction, a more authoritarian regime where even the elected president doesn’t seem to be able to do much to restrain the impact of the views of five people.

These five, as well as the four others that make up the entirety of the Supreme Court were appointed in a process not designed to be congruent with the will of the American people, which in recent times appears to have been enacted with no shortage of controversy, even on its own terms. As an external observer, they appear to me as a unremovable, unaccountable handful of appointees with sometimes life-or-death power over more than 300 million people’s lived experiences.

The judges didn’t temper the wording since the leaked draft one bit. Justice Thomas' concordance explicitly called out by name three cases that he thinks should be reconsidered - Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell.

These cases correspond to rulings that couples have the right to access contraceptives, that gay sex cannot be outlawed by states and the right to same-sex marriage. Within the US, the very idea that these already-decided issues would be back on any respectable court’s agenda in 2022 is surely jarring, shocking, and likely deadly.