Ever since oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson case against abortion rights, anyone paying attention knew the U.S. Supreme Court was poised to gut the landmark Roe v. Wade decision ensuring Americans access to abortion as a constitutional right.
But the leaked draft opinion penned for the high court majority by Justice Samuel Alito isn't just a blow to Roe, it's "a maximalist assault on progressive constitutionalism" that opens the floodgates to any rights Americans now enjoy that aren’t explicitly enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.
As Slate's Mark Joseph Stern notes, the opinion says abortion is “unique,” but not as a matter of life and death, as some other conservative justices had suggested. As Stern writes, Alito’s “more emphatic denunciation of Roe’s logic is that abortion rights are not firmly entrenched in tradition or a part of the Constitution’s original meaning.”
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As such, the draft ruling intrinsically calls into question other unenumerated rights the Supreme Court has conferred on Americans, such as the right to privacy, raise children, use contraception, or marry the person of their choosing regardless of the color of their skin or their gender.
Toppling Roe is just the beginning of a series of previous Supreme Court rulings in the crosshairs of the right-wing majority. In fact, during the recent confirmation hearings Ketanji Brown Jackson, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas delivered a diatribe about the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision granting same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry.
Indeed, Alito went out of his way to harshly dismiss both Obergefell and the court's landmark 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling, which established the right of same-sex couples to be intimate (i.e., privacy) without government interference. That decision is broadly considered to be the first major win for gay and lesbian activists at the Supreme Court and became foundational to nearly every other ruling establishing fundamental constitutional rights for LGBTQ Americans.
So what else is on the chopping block after Roe? It doesn't take a genius to get a sense of where conservatives are heading.
In Michigan, the Republicans running to be the state's next attorney general all agreed in a February debate that the 1965 ruling striking down state bans on the sale of contraception had been wrongly decided. Griswold v. Connecticut is fundamental to privacy rights and the precursor to decisions like Lawrence and Obergefell.
Or how about sitting GOP Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana telling a reporter that he would be perfectly fine with the issue of interracial marriage reverting back to a states' rights issue.
Question: "You would be okay with the Supreme Court leaving the issue of interracial marriage to the states?"
Braun: "Yes. If you are not wanting the Supreme Court to weigh in on issues like that, you are not going to be able to have your cake and eat it too."
Braun later tried to walk it back because it's nothing short of a radical reversal of fundamental civil rights law in modern America.
But basically the repeal of any Supreme Court ruling safeguarding the rights of Americans as we know them today is potentially in the offing. Buckle up!