Biden and other critics fear Thomas’ ‘extreme’ stance on birth control

Thomas added, “After reversing these blatantly erroneous rulings, the question remains whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad of rights that our substantive due process cases have generated.”

Following Friday’s shocking opinion on Dobbs, health advocates, legal experts and Democrats are wondering if the conservative majority on the Supreme Court might consider birth control rights in the future. The Griswold case is mentioned or quoted nearly two dozen times in the Dobbs case, which was widely celebrated by Republicans and the anti-abortion movement.

In an address to the nation, President Biden denounced Thomas’s explicit emphasis on the right of couples to make their own contraceptive choices – “a married couple in the privacy of their bedroom, for love of God”.

“It’s an extreme and dangerous path that the court is taking us down now,” Biden said.

Audrey Sandusky, senior director of policy and communications for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Rights Association, told the Washington Post that the opinion shows there’s an “appetite among at least some members of the court to dismantle everything a landscape of rights, including the right to access contraception and the fundamental right to privacy.”

Highlighting instances in which states have considered certain birth control methods as abortifacients or substances that can induce abortions, Sandusky said the ruling would further embolden those types of state policies.

“Today’s decision wreaks havoc on reproductive health and rights in this country at a time when the network of family planning providers is already stretched far too thin and desperately needs more support,” he said. – she writes in an e-mail.

Interest around Griswold stems from how constitutional protections for abortion and birth control have long been linked. In Griswold, the Supreme Court struck down a law banning birth control, arguing that the ban violated a “fundamental right to privacy”. This right to privacy is the basis of Roe v. Wade.

“Would we allow the police to search the hallowed grounds of the marital chambers for any telltale signs of contraceptive use? Judge William Douglas wrote for the majority on June 7, 1965. “The very idea is repugnant to notions of privacy surrounding the spousal relationship.”

But precedent on contraception emerged decades later with today’s Supreme Court justices. At her confirmation hearing in 2020, Amy Coney Barrett declined to answer whether Griswold had been decided correctly on the grounds that a total ban on contraception at the state level was “unthinkable”. The matter was raised again by Judge Sonia Sotomayor during closing arguments for Dobbs, who was considering a Mississippi law that would ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“To Roe,” the Court said. . . certain personal decisions which belong to individuals and the States cannot interfere there ”, had then declared the liberal justice. “We recognized that sense of intimacy in people’s choice of whether or not to use contraception.”

Since a draft opinion on the Dobbs case was leaked last month, several Republican lawmakers have signaled their desire to restrict emergency contraception in addition to abortion, a topic lawmakers have rarely addressed in public. audience. In March, Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, called the Griswold decision “legally ill-founded.” In May, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, refused to rule out the possibility of his state banning certain forms of birth control. Blake Masters, a GOP Senate candidate in Arizona, said on his website that he “would only vote for federal judges who understand that Roe, Griswold and Casey were poorly chosen.”

Democrats like Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York called Thomas’s suggestion to review contraception “just the beginning of a radical right-wing effort to roll back” people’s rights.

Legal experts echoed Biden’s remarks regarding the path Thomas’ opinion could take in the High Court. Thomas’ opinion “more or less set a roadmap for future litigation,” Laurie Sobel, deputy policy director at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The Post.

“Here’s how you can file this lawsuit and claim it was wrongly decided,” she added.

Sobel said it’s possible that litigation will arise, such as if a state bans IUDs or contraception and someone takes legal action, but it remains unclear in which direction the majority of the court would lean.

Critics slammed Thomas for saying precedents like contraception should be reviewed by the Supreme Court, despite being established law for decades.

“It doesn’t stop at abortion,” wrote Rahna Epting, executive director of the liberal group MoveOn. “The Republicans won’t stop until they strip away all the freedoms they can’t load with bullets.”


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