Three civil liberties besides abortion that the GOP's Christian nationalists may target if Roe is overturned
Civil libertarians have been warning that if social conservatives and far-right Christian nationalists ever succeed in getting Roe v. Wade overturned, many rights other than abortion will be under attack as well — from access to contraception to gay rights. And now, it appears that Americans are about to find out what life in a post-Roe America will be like.
A major bombshell came from Politico on Monday night, May 2, when the publication reported that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito had written a leaked majority draft opinion making a case for outlawing Roe. Defenders of abortion rights were quick to respond, and Democratic fundraising has surged. CNBC, on May 3, reported that “Democrats and their affiliated outside groups” had “raised more than $7 million” since Politico’s bombshell reporting the night before.
The likely demise of Roe v. Wade has implications way beyond abortion rights. Here are three rights other than abortion that far-right White evangelical fundamentalists and Christian nationalists may attack in the months to come.
Like Roe, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 1965’s Griswold v. Connecticut was a right-to-privacy decision. The landmark Griswold ruling, eight years before Roe, struck down a Connecticut law forbidding the use of contraception by marriage couples — and it’s no coincidence that many opponents of Roe are also opponents of Griswold. Far-right radio host Mark Levin and Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee believe that Roe and Griswold were both wrongly decided, insisting that there is no right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution.
In February, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel slammed three Republicans who are running for that position in the 2022 midterms, noting that all of them believe that Griswold was wrongly decided and that there shouldn’t be a national standard protecting access to contraception.
All 3 Republicans running for Michigan Attorney General just stated that they oppose the ruling in Griswold v Connecticut which outlawed prosecuting married couples for using contraception. \n\nYou read that right.\n\nTerrifying.— Dana Nessel (@Dana Nessel) 1645231006
Wendy Parmet, faculty co-director for the Center for Health Policy and Law at Northeastern University in Boston, told The Guardian that if Alito’s draft opinion “becomes the opinion of the Court, Griswold is imperiled, no question.” Similarly, Priscilla Smith of the Yale Law School in Connecticut told The Guardian, “If the draft becomes the real opinion, all of those issues — contraception, consensual sex and marriage rights — certainly are all at risk. They have definitely left the door wide open.”
2. Gay Rights
Alito’s draft opinion is alarming not only because of his views on abortion, but also, because of his views on gay rights — and he specifically mentioned two Supreme Court rulings other than Roe that he believes were wrongly decided: Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 and Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. Lawrence struck down a Texas sodomy law as constitutional, invalidating similar laws in other states in the process. And Obergefell legalized same-sex marriage nationally.
Lawrence and Obergefell, as Alito sees it, used the same flawed reasoning as Roe. There is no reason not to believe that if Roe is overturned, the High Court’s socially conservative justices will not overturn those decisions as well.
3. Interracial marriage
Only two years after its Griswold decision, the Warren Court outlawed prohibitions of interracial marriage with its 1967 ruling in Loving v. Virginia. In 1958, Mildred Loving, an African-American woman, and her White husband, Richard Loving, were sentenced to a year in prison for getting married — which was a violation of a Virginia law prohibiting interracial marriage. But in 1967, the Warren Court ruled that Virginia’s law and similar laws in other states were a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
In an op-ed published by the Daily Beast on May 4, journalist Wajahat Ali warns that if Roe is overturned, Alito’s reasoning could be used to overturn Loving as well. And Ali points out that some Republicans believe that Loving was wrongly decided, citing Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana as an example of a Republican who has said he would be open to overturning Loving and leaving the legality of interracial marriage up to state governments.
“Braun…. wants to let the states decide the issue, because that has worked out so wonderfully in the past for Black people trying to live their lives without fear of violence, harassment, inequality, and discrimination,” Ali writes. “I wonder how Justice Clarence Thomas, who is married to Ginni Thomas, a White woman, would vote if such a challenge to Loving were brought before him? Maybe he’d take one for the team.”
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