A Modest Proposal: Returning Witch Trials To Better America

4 min readApr 10, 2024
Old Law Is Good Law

Yesterday the Arizona Supreme Court resurrected an 1864 state statute forbidding virtually all abortions in the state. The statute forbids abortions from the moment of conception, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The only exception is to save the mother’s life. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled a 2022 statute (actual 21st Century law) allowing elective abortion up to 15 weeks did not prevail because the 1864 statute was not repealed and must be “harmonized” with the existing statute. The modern statute not prohibiting abortion prior to 15 weeks was determined to not overrule the Civil War statute prohibiting abortion from conception.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the only thing previously holding the 1864 law in check was “the existence of a federal constitutional right to an abortion since disclaimed by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization” in 2022. With Dobbs killing Roe the Arizona’s 1864 statute rose from the dead.

At the time this Arizona statute was passed, Arizona was not even a state and women had no right to vote. The women of Arizona never had any voice in this ancient law voiding their reproductive choices. They had no representation at all in anything. American men went to war behind the slogan, “no taxation without representation.” What slogan are Arizonan women entitled to today?

But to paraphrase Shakespeare, I write not to condemn the Arizona law, but to praise it. I suggest that the reasoning and authority cited by the Arizona Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court in Dobbs provides a strong basis to move America toward becoming a better, more Christian nation. A nation that, as our Bible commands, “shall not suffer a witch to live.” Yesterday the Arizona Supreme Court found that old law is good law. America should return to the old laws that, at the time of the founding of our nation, helped make America great.

Today the term “witch hunt” is much abused. It is metaphorical, and does not even involve any actual witches. The best way to restore respect for the term “witch hunt” is to return it to its literal meaning, with actual witches. Modern tools, such as social media, allow for more easily detecting and accusing real witches of being witches.

It’s clear witches are real. The Bible says so, it cannot lie. Our Founders believed in them and their parents were bold enough to execute witches. Various colonies passed laws banning witchcraft, such as Virginia’s “Acte against Conjuration, Witchcrafte and dealing with evill and wicked Spirits.” Everyone knows of the Salem Witch trials, which executed nineteen people in this country.

Such precedents are important. The Dobbs decision stands for the proposition that there can be no right to abortion because “the right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition.” Not only is a right to witchcraft not deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, what is deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition is criminalizing witchcraft and executing witches. Let America return to its roots.

The United States recognized this in the Dobbs decision itself. Dobbs repeatedly (14 times by my count) relied upon a 17th Century English judge who sentenced women to hang for witchcraft. His name was Matthew Hale and amongst his early profound influences on American legal tradition were his writings used as guidance for the Salem witch trials.

As the Supreme Court turned to Matthew Hale to guide its decision on abortion, the judges in Salem turned to Matthew Hale to guide their investigations and trials of witches. If Matthew Hale’s authority is good enough to determine women’s rights related to abortion, it is good enough to determine when women should be hanged for witchcraft.

To be sure, men were also sometimes punished for practicing witchcraft, and may well be again. However, it is well established that “women were more susceptible to demonic temptations through the manifold weaknesses of their gender.” Yes, returning America to a nation that once again criminalizes witchcraft will undoubtedly impact women disproportionally, but why should that matter when returning America to a nation that criminalizes abortion does the same? That women had no representation in the creation of these old laws against witchcraft is of no more importance than women having no representation in the old laws against abortion. Laws that impact actual Americans today.

Thus, like Jonathan Swift, I submit my own “Modest Proposal.” A proposal rooted in the history and tradition of America as a Christian nation and the historical values of this nation. Clearly, stripping women of rights is a key to Make America Great Again.




Retired lawyer & Army vet in The Villages of Florida. Lifelong: Republican (pre-Trump), Constitution buff, science nerd & dog lover. Twitter: @KeithDB80