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Justice Thomas says the Supreme Court should 'reconsider' rulings that protect access to contraception and same-sex marriage as the court overturns Roe v. Wade

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Clarence Thomas
Justice Clarence Thomas.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • The Supreme Court on Friday overturned abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade.

  • In a concurring opinion, Justice Thomas wrote that the court should "reconsider" rulings on contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage.

  • "In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell," he wrote.

Along with the Supreme Court's Friday ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court should also "reconsider" rulings that protect contraception access, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage.

The nation's highest court on Friday tossed out federal abortion rights established nearly 50 years ago by Roe. Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative, delivered the court's majority opinion, declaring that Roe was "egregiously wrong from the start" and leaving abortion decision-making up to states. He was joined by conservative justices Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice John Roberts supported the majority but disagreed with the court's complete reversal of Roe.

The court's three liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — dissented. In their opinion, they argued that the court's decision could clear the way for other rights to be revoked, such as contraception access and same-sex marriage, which are protected by privacy rights under the 14th Amendment in the Constitution, as abortion rights had been.

"And no one should be confident that this majority is done with its work. The right Roe and Casey recognized does not stand alone," the three justices wrote. "To the contrary, the Court has linked it for decades to other settled freedoms involving bodily integrity, familial relationships, and procreation."

But Alito, in the majority opinion, pushed back on the liberal justices' argument. He wrote that the court's decision to revoke abortion rights does not mean that those other rights are at risk. Abortion, he argued, is distinct from those rights because it concerns the interests of "fetal life."

"Perhaps this is designed to stoke unfounded fear that our decision will imperil those other rights," Alito wrote, "but the dissent's analogy is objectionable for a more important reason: what it reveals about the dissent's views on the protection of what Roe called 'potential life.'"

Thomas, however, separated himself from the court's conservative majority and called for the court to examine all rulings that concern the 14th Amendment's due process clause, specifically pointing out decisions that protected contraception access, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriages. The due process clause ensures that any American has the right to due process before someone can take away their inalienable rights.

"For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell," Thomas, widely considered to be the court's most conservative justice, wrote in a concurring opinion.

Concurring opinions are court opinions that agree with the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, but acknowledge differing reasons for coming to the same conclusion. The opinion is not a binding precedent, unlike the majority opinion.

The Griswold v. Connecticut decision came in 1965, when the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that people have the right to privacy that protects against state restrictions on contraception. If overturned, states would be granted the ability to outlaw various forms of birth control.

In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in the Lawrence v. Texas case that making it a crime for members of the same sex to have intimate sexual relations violates the due process clause.

"Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his opinion.

Lastly, the high court decided in 2015 in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment protects the rights of same-sex couples to get married in the same ways that opposite-sex couples can.

Legal experts have long warned that overruling Roe v. Wade may put other rights on the chopping block.

Read the original article on Business Insider