Editorial | Unequal justice under law in Roe v. Wade reversal

Roe v. Wade Supreme Court reversal
FILE – Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, April 23, 2021. Seated from left are Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left are Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years — a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool, File)

The Supreme Court has opted for “Unequal Justice Under Law” in overturning Roe v. Wade. Not every state will respect the rights of women equally, and reproductive rights will constantly be on the ballot in every state almost every year.

“Whether ours shall continue to be a nation of laws, and not of men, is now for Congress, and ultimately the American people.”

The fired Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox said that upon his unceremonious dismissal in October 1973. But his words live on in a different way, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned the nearly 50-year-old legal precedent of Roe v. Wade.

Women across America were stripped of their right to abortion — their inherent right to control their bodies — in states across this country as a result of Friday’s decision by this conservative activist court. 

New York women are protected, for now. Their rights are codified into state law. But let there be no doubt that all of them can very easily be flushed away if voters elect right-wing Republicans into the majority of the state legislature, and the governor’s mansion. It’s an unlikely scenario in this heavily-Democratic state, but the risk is still there.

And if you think New York Republicans wouldn’t dare to strip women’s reproductive rights, take a look at how some of them celebrated Friday’s decision. They’d do it in a heartbeat, if you gave them that power.

But even the assurance that women in New York still have the ability to control their own bodies does not, for a moment, ease the anger and pain that the Supreme Court inflicted upon the American people Friday.

Their actions were, with apologies to Neil Armstrong, one small step backward for America, one giant leap backward to the stone ages — where only white men had the right to do anything.

Let’s understand one thing: Our country is of many faiths. The Constitution is the guide to our governance — not the Bible, Torah, Quran or other holy book. No government shall operate as if one particular book of faith supersedes all others, and the rule of law — yet that is exactly how the Supreme Court acted in its ruling.

The majority’s reasoning for killing Roe v. Wade, in citing laws from the mid-19th century, would be downright laughable if the situation weren’t so horrifically tragic. This country has advanced and changed so dramatically in more than 150 years, but the majority continued to take a very literal approach to the law that just isn’t feasible in modern society. 

It’s clear that the six conservative justices in the majority had no foresight to care for the impact this decision would make. Their decision was made only with advancing their own political ideologies, rather than adhering to the Constitution itself.

And shame, in particular, on the three Trump-appointed conservative activist jurists — Neil Gorsuch, Brian Kavanagh and Amy Coney Barrett — for vowing at their confirmation hearings that they would respect judicial precedent, yet threw it all under the bus anyway.

Even more troubling, other rights — particularly same-sex rights and birth control — are endangered by this ruling, as Associate Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledged in his opinion. This conservative court majority seems destined to continue imposing its own ideology upon the American people, and throwing the country into chaos. 

This country needs a federal law permitting all American women, regardless of where they live, the right to control their reproductive health. Congress, as currently constituted, cannot pass such a law. And, as President Joe Biden said Friday in reaction to the Court’s decision, he does not have the executive power to change things.

That power rests only with you, the voter.

You have to decide this November whether you want the Supreme Court to make reproductive health decisions for you, or the women in your life. 

You have to decide whether you want the Supreme Court to dictate who you love, and who you can marry.

You have to decide whether you want to make your own decisions about birth control, or to let six conservative justices make that decision for you.

You have to decide whether you want to live in a country run by six robed ideologues who don’t even conduct proceedings on camera, or by elected officials whom you send to Washington to make decisions in your best interests.

Yes, the choice is that simple. 

And if you fail to exercise that choice, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself the next time the Supreme Court decides to strip another inalienable right from the American people.

Whether ours shall continue to be a nation of rights, and not of ideology, is now for Congress, and ultimately the American people.

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