The US Supreme Court decision ending the right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade in 1973 has put other hard-won rights at risk, including the rights to same-sex marriage and contraception.
The level of risk depends on which opinion you read. The majority ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito said, “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”
But Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion, made it clear that “future cases” could curtail other rights not clearly addressed by the Constitution’s 18th Century framers.
Tucked inside the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Friday that overturned the long-held constitutional protection for abortion was a concurring opinion from conservative Justice Clarence Thomas. In it, he pushed the court to revisit cases that have already been decided related to contraception and same-sex marriage.
Fueling already heightened anxieties from women and LGBTQ groups that the end of Roe could be the tip of the iceberg, Thomas wrote that “in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents.”
“Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’ we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” Thomas wrote.
Best known as the architect behind Senate Bill 8, the state law that deputizes everyday Texans as abortion bounty hunters, Mitchell has spent years arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court should reverse its decision in Roe vs. Wade. His legal theories and court cases helped lay the groundwork onto which the ruling came toppling down.
But as the rest of the country was bracing for the fall of Roe, Mitchell was already moving on. Since opening up a one-man legal shop in Austin four years ago, he has jumped headlong into myriad other lawsuits over everything from the contraceptive mandate to affirmative action and same-sex marriage.
Mitchell says his goal is to systematically dismantle decades of rulings he believes depart from the language of the U.S. Constitution or that impose constitutional rights with no textual basis. With the Supreme Court moving ever more his way, the cases he brings may be a bellwether for the direction of the nation’s legal establishment, and, by extension, the nation itself.
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