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Protesters gathered outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after he called on his colleagues to overturn rulings on contraception and same-sex relationships.
Thomas's comments came in his concurrent opinion to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization; a case that gained global attention this week when the Supreme Court voted in favour of a Mississippi law that outlaws abortion at 15 weeks and overturned Roe v Wade, which granted millions of women the right to an abortion.
Thomas was one of six conservative justices to rule in favour of the law, but he indicated he didn't want to stop with Roe v Wade as he wrote that the Supreme Court should 'reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell'.
Griswold v. Connecticut ruled that states in North America had no right to ban contraception. Lawrence v. Texas ruled that states could not criminalise sodomy, and Obergefell v. Hodges ruled same-sex couples could legally marry.
In his opinion, cited by The Independent, Thomas continued: “Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous’... we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents...
"After overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated."
Following the release of Thomas's concurrent opinion, protesters travelled to his home in Virginia to wave signs and flags and chant about their rights.
Though worrying, Thomas's references to overturning other landmark cases has not come as a surprise for many.
Jim Obergefell, whose lawsuit led to the legalisation of same-sex marriage, described himself as 'terrified' of the repercussions of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case while speaking with The Independent earlier this month.
He commented: "This is a signal to people who are opposed to marriage equality, who are opposed to LGBT+ equality, who are opposed to progress, giving them actual words that they can use in a lawsuit to challenge something. And it’s a signal to judges in state and federal courts that if cases come before you using this argument, the Supreme Court might be on your side."
It’s a sad day for women's rights. This Supreme Court continues to erode the rights of citizens at an alarming rate. Women deserve responsive leaders who support reproductive justice. Leaders who respect their fundamental right to have control over their own bodies.— Jim Obergefell (@JimObergefell) June 24, 2022
Liberal Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor criticised Thomas's opinion and argued all three cases he mentioned are 'part of the same constitutional fabric, protecting autonomous decision making over the most personal of life decisions'.
As the court issued its ruling yesterday, the conservative majority claimed its decision should not be interpreted as a threat to other major precedent cases. However, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan argued that either the mass of the opinion was 'hypocrisy', or there was a threat against additional constitutional rights.
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