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Are Marriage Equality and the Right to Obtain Contraception Next on Right-Wing Supreme Court Justices Agenda?

handmaids tale
Cartoon by Mike Luckovich

Article by Julia Conley, Common Dreams

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made clear in his concurring opinion regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade that the high court has no intention of stopping its rollback of Americans’ rights, naming cases that centered on marriage equality and the right to obtain contraception as previous rulings that should be revisited.

“It does not end at abortion. Republicans will not stop until they have stripped away every freedom they can’t load with bullets,” said MoveOn Executive Director Rahna Epting, referring to this week’s ruling by the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority that New York’s restrictions on carrying concealed weapons were unconstitutional.

In his concurrence, quoting Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion, Thomas wrote, “I agree that ‘nothing in [the court’s] opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.'”

“For that reason,” Thomas wrote, “in future cases, we should reconsider all of the Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.

The 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut ruling affirmed that the government cannot interfere in people’s procurement of contraceptives, while Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 overturned a Texas law which had effectively made sexual relationships between people of the same sex illegal in the state. Obergefell v. Hodges, decided in 2015, affirmed that same-sex couples can legally marry.

Like the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Friday, the overruling of the decisions listed by Thomas would be deeply unpopular with the American public.

That is unlikely to stop the right-wing majority from overturning those rulings, said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“It is clear he and the court’s majority have no respect for other precedents that have been won in recent decades,” said Jayapal. “This Supreme Court is out of touch with the American people and increasingly suffers a legitimacy crisis.”

The three liberal justices who dissented against the ruling denounced Alito’s claim that the decision would not have an effect on other rights previously protected by the court.

“They are all part of the same constitutional fabric, protecting autonomous decision-making over the most personal of life decisions,” the dissent reads. “The lone rationale for what the majority does today is that the right to elect an abortion is not ‘deeply rooted in history.'”

Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer added:

The same could be said, though, of most of the rights the majority claims it is not tampering with… So one of two things must be true. Either the majority does not really believe in its own reasoning. Or if it does, all rights that have no history stretching back to the mid-19th century are insecure. Either the mass of the majority’s opinion is hypocrisy, or additional constitutional rights are under threat. It is one or the other.

Economist Umair Haque said the ruling handed down Friday was “just the beginning, sadly, of the theocratic fascist project reaching its culmination in earnest now.”

As progressives called for legislative and executive action to codify the right to abortion care into federal law, attorney and Democratic U.S. House candidate Suraj Patel called on Congress to “move now” to ensure the right to contraception, same-sex relationships, and marriage equality are protected.

“Congress has that power right now. Hold the vote,” said Patel. “For 50 years Republicans told us their playbook, they attacked Roe at the edges, we didn’t codify it. Let’s not be naive and not anticipate what’s coming.”


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    Ben Berwick

    It does seem inevitable that SCOTUS will try to roll back other rights. The hard-right will cheer, but the majority will weep. I guess the only hope I can think of, is that the backlash come elections will be ferocious, but the Democrats need to push very hard to make sure the actions of the Supreme Court remain firmly in the minds of Americans.

  2. Avatar

    The author of the article below expected SCOTUS to rule on West Virginia v EPA today and no one would notice because of the news about Roe. So maybe SCOTUS will cripple regulatory agencies next week, instead.

    Right-Wing Supreme Court Readies to Help Destroy the Planet, The by THOM HARTMANN, June 21, 2022 The SCOTUS is about to use it’s ill-gotten power on behalf of the fossil fuel industry to cripple America’s ability to meet the challenge of climate change.

    … But Gorsuch has argued, essentially, that making rules—even the detailed scientific minutiae of rules—should be done by Congress instead of the EPA, and that agencies like the EPA should simply play the role of cops on the beat, enforcing those rules. (Congress can’t tie its own shoes. –DW)
    He wants to overturn Chevron v NRDC.
    This would cripple virtually every regulatory agency in Washington, DC, from the EPA to the FCC to OSHA. Every rule made by any of them (and dozens of other agencies) could be thrown out under a direct court challenge, and, unless Congress specifically replaces those rules by passing new laws themselves, those rules will cease to exist.

  3. Avatar

    I’m upset. But…we knew this was coming, and now all kinds of people are exclaiming “Woe is me!” like this is a complete surprise. I hope that we can fight this radical Christian agenda. I just wish I believed that we were going to win.

  4. Avatar

    It would be courteous for SCOTUS to let the public know that the justices are going to rip Roe v Wade out from under our feet… and they did, but not officially. If the justices DIDN’T plan the leak, then they expected to cause a bigger ruckus. I like to assume the best of others until they prove me wrong, but not in this case, and maybe never again from SCOTUS.
    Pushing those last justices, who implied that they not going to overturn Roe, onto the court has damaged its credibility, and that may be partly the point, in an effort to destroy democracy.

  5. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    None of this surprises me. In their confirmation hearings, Justices Roberts, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Coney-Barrett said that Roe v Wade is “settled law” and they would uphold it. More weaselly words have rarely been spoken.

    At least we knew Justices Thomas and Alito didn’t make any pretense of following precedent, let alone respecting a right ennumerated in the Constitution.

    Between this ruling and the one striking down the concealed-carry law in New York (where I live), I feel less safe. A lot less safe.

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    “Economist Umair Haque said the ruling handed down Friday was ‘just the beginning, sadly, of the theocratic fascist project reaching its culmination in earnest now.'” This is accurate. Nearly 50 years of right-wing maneuvering to seize power to advance the agendas of right-wing white Christian authoritarian white supremacists. This is a literal disaster. We were briefly the bastion of democracy in the world. Now we are a backwards nation hell-bent on becoming the Christian version of Saudi Arabia. If LGBTQ rights are reversed, what happens to all those families? All the children of same sex couples? Do these theocrats aim to rip them from their parents and homes? I bet they do…. Republic of Gilead of coming closer and closer…..

    Where can I move? Will Canada take an influx of Americans? I looked into Australia and New Zealand and am too old – can only get 4 year stints where reapplication would be necessary. Europe, but I am not jazzed about learning another language…

    • Avatar
      MJ Lisbeth

      Zoe—To do that, he would have to enlist the other judges to strike down Loving v Virginia (1967).

      It just so happens that his wife’s given name is Virginia.

    • Avatar

      exactly. funny how that doesn’t have whatever bullshit was offered to try to allay fears of the SCOTUS about other things being reneged on either.

      Thomas is no more than a “Stephen” in the context of Django Unchained.

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Bruce Gerencser