ISSN 2330-717X

Robert Reich: They Won’t Stop At Roe – OpEd

By

Bans on abortion, birth control, and same-sex marriage are at stake in November’s elections.

Advertisement

Overturning Roe v. Wade is extreme, but what’s just as alarming is the logic Justice Samuel Alito used to justify it, which puts a whole range of other rights on the chopping block, too.

We enjoy many rights that are protected by the Constitution but not explicitly mentioned in it. One of these is the right to privacy. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the 14th Amendment’s due process clause protects individuals’ privacy against government interference.

In 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court used privacy to make it illegal for states to ban birth control. In 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the Court used privacy to decide that women have broad rights to determine whether to end their pregnancies. In 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas, the Court protected LGBTQ Americans from arrest and prosecution for engaging in consensual sex in the privacy of their own bedrooms. In 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court legalized gay marriage.

These landmark court cases all rest on the principle that the Constitution protects the liberty of an individual to make decisions about certain private matters without government interference.

But in his leaked opinion, Justice Samuel Alito argues that since the Constitution contains neither an explicit right to an abortion nor an explicit right to privacy, Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and must be overturned.

Advertisement

Alito’s logic threatens all the other court cases that were decided based on the inferred right to privacy. That could give government a say over the most intimate decisions someone ever makes. Alito explicitly writes that his opinion overturning Roe v Wade “concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right.” Should we believe him? 

Well, he and the other justices who have tentatively joined him all reassured the senators in their confirmation hearings that they accepted Roe v Wade as settled precedent. They all lied. So there’s no reason to believe their assurance now.

Make no mistake: this is what’s on the ballot in November.

Republican lawmakers want the government to make decisions about your marriage, your bedroom, and your body.

They’ve already started at the state level by restricting abortion and criminalizing gender-affirming health care for trans people. The Republican majority on the Supreme Court is giving states the green light to invade everyone’s privacy in ever more egregious ways.

This is why we must work to elect Democrats who will protect these rights at both the state and federal level. Know the stakes, and vote accordingly.

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at robertreich.substack.com. Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.