Five conservative Justices of the Supreme Court, three of whom were appointed by former President Trump, are like time travelers who have journeyed backward a half-century essentially to embrace laws that will now criminalize a woman’s right to discontinue an early, unwanted pregnancy, even one that has resulted from rape or incest or even a pregnancy in which a fetus has been determined, early in gestation, to be hopelessly and fatally impaired. While Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold a Mississippi law that criminalizes abortion after fifteen weeks, he voted with the minority against overturning Roe.
In-vitro fertilization is now in question. Intrauterine devices (IUDs), and other forms of birth control such as the Plan B pill that inhibits a fertilized egg cell from attaching to a uterus are at risk as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Presumably, young at-risk couples who today can, and do, screen pregnancies for serious genetic anomalies, may also be compromised because the option of terminating a fatally flawed pregnancy has, indeed, been compromised by the Supreme Court’s decision.
In the interest of full disclosure, I and my late first wife lost a young son to an awful, uniformly fatal, genetic degenerative disease that condemned our child to a frequently tortured life until his death at age three-and-a-half. Because of advances in genetic medicine and the ability to monitor subsequent pregnancies we were able to go on to have another child, a healthy son, and he and his wife have, in turn, produced our three wonderful grandsons. Similarly, our family is blessed with two extraordinary granddaughters, because my daughter was able to plan her pregnancies with the benefit of genetic screening. Genetic screening, which is routine today, may be in question because the decision to terminate a seriously diseased pregnancy is now in question.
There are today thousands of healthy children (and adults as well) who are here because their parents were able to avail themselves of advances in genetic medicine that allowed them, if necessary, to terminate fatally flawed pregnancies, while going on to have healthy pregnancies free of the horrible genetic anomalies for which they were at risk.
New York gun-carry limitations were also gutted by Court.
Simultaneously, the six conservative Justices— Alito, Barrett, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Chief Justice Roberts, struck down a New York law that restricted the right to carry a concealed handgun to those who could claim a legitimate cause or need to carry such a weapon. Thus, the Supreme Court of the United States has codified the right of anyone at least twenty-one years of age to carry a concealed weapon pretty much anywhere they choose. While high-population-density, gun-free safe areas might be allowable, it is yet to be determined whether that would apply at universities and colleges with students aged twenty-one or older.
Allowing guns on campuses is not a new phenomenon. A U.S. News survey determined a short time ago, that 103 colleges and universities allow students to carry firearms in some capacity. Forty schools allow eligible students to possess concealed handguns across campus. The other schools have more restrictive policies
Ironically, this Supreme Court gun decision was handed down the same day both houses of Congress passed gun legislation following the Buffalo, New York, and the Uvalde, Texas massacres. The gun bill, which President Biden signed into law yesterday, provides a number of worthwhile measures such as the elimination of the so-called “boy-friend” domestic-violence loophole, some money for mental health assistance, and background checks for teenage semi-automatic rifle buyers. Unfortunately, the new law still gives a green light for teenagers, eighteen and nineteen-year-old kids, to purchase AR-15 and AK 17 semi-automatic rifles.
The conservative Supreme Court Justices are just getting started.
Simultaneously, the longest-serving of the Justices, Clarence Thomas, has called for Supreme Court reconsideration of three prior landmark Supreme Court decisions; Griswold v Connecticut, Lawrence v Texas, and Obergefell v Hodges. Griswold is a 1965 Supreme Court decision that established the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives. Because of Griswold all couples, today, have the right to buy contraceptives in America. Because of the 2003 Lawrence decision consenting adults have the right to engage in same-sex intimacy, and Obergefell established the right in 2015 for same-sex couples to be married. In other words, Americans today have a reasonable right to privacy in their personal lives that may soon be under attack by the conservative Supremes.
Justice Thomas was unambiguous. “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’ we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” Thomas wrote.
“In future cases, we should follow the text of the Constitution, which sets forth certain substantive rights that cannot be taken away, and adds, beyond that, a right to due process when life, liberty, or property is to be taken away,” he continued. “Substantive due process conflicts with that textual command and has harmed our country in many ways. “Accordingly,” he added, “we should eliminate it (substantive due process) from our jurisprudence at the earliest opportunity.”
Substantive due process is a principle in United States constitutional law that allows courts to establish and protect certain fundamental rights from government interference, even if procedural protections are present or the rights are unenumerated (not specifically mentioned) elsewhere in the US Constitution.
Of course, the Ninth Amendment makes clear that not all rights are specifically enumerated in the constitution, such as a reasonable right to privacy. But who cares about that? Certainly not Justice Thomas.
Welcome back, way back, to a potentially dark future.