The Supreme Court ruling that annulled the right to abortion in the United States, issued this Friday, could open the door for the courts to annul same-sex marriage, contraception and other rights.
The debate over whether Roe’s annulment jeopardizes those precedents has already begun among the justices.
The majority opinion sought to separate his Friday decision in the abortion case from those other rulings, but Justice Clarence Thomas wrote separately to explicitly call for those other rulings to be reviewed, a concurrence liberals seized on to argue that those rights are now in jeopardy.
In their dissent, the liberal justices wrote that “no one should trust this majority to have finished its job.”
“The right that Roe and Casey recognized does not stand alone,” they wrote. “On the contrary, the Court has linked it for decades to other established freedoms involving bodily integrity, family relations and procreation. Most evidently, the right to terminate a pregnancy arose directly from the right to acquire and use contraceptives. In turn, those rights led, more recently, to same-sex marriage and privacy rights.”
“Either the basis of the majority opinion is hypocrisy, or additional constitutional rights are threatened. It’s one or the other.” the Liberals added.
Judge Alito, in a new section of the opinion that was not present in the leaked draft, responded to the dissidents’ warnings.
What does the Supreme Court ruling on abortion say?
The majority opinion emphasized a line that said “[n]Nothing in this opinion should be understood as calling into question non-abortion precedents.”
“We have also explained why this is so: rights relating to contraception and same-sex relationships are inherently different from abortion rights because the latter (as we have emphasized) uniquely involves what Roe and Casey called ‘life potentially,” Alito said.
Alito’s claims were undermined by Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion, which explicitly asked the court to reconsider its rulings on state restrictions on contraception, state bans on sodomy, and state bans on same-sex marriage.
“Since any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably wrong,'” Thomas wrote, “we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ set forth in those precedents.”
Liberal dissenters used Thomas’s concurrence to attack Alito’s assurances that the court was not jeopardizing those precedents by overturning Roe.
“The first problem with the majority’s account comes from Justice Thomas’s concurrence, which makes it clear that he is not following the agenda. Saying that nothing in today’s opinion calls into question non-abortion precedents, explains the Justice Thomas, just means they are not on the table,” the Liberals wrote, citing Thomas’ concurrence.
“So at least one judge is planning to use today’s decision over and over again,” they said.
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