It’s been quite a year for activist Justice Clarence Thomas.
First, his wife, Ginni Thomas, was credibly accused of conspiring with Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to overturn the 2020 election and end American democracy as we know it.
Then a leaked opinion showed there was momentum on the Supreme Court for overturning Roe v Wade, a hope of Thomas’s that predates his 1991 confirmation.
Then, just Thursday, he authored the Court’s majority opinion striking down New York State’s limits on carrying concealed firearms.
And that was only the beginning.
Striking Down Roe wasn’t Enough
Clarence Thomas has been a Supreme Court Justice for 30 years. Often inscrutable, he is known for refusing to sit for interviews, for his radically right-wing dissents, and, now, since Former President Trump’s appointment of 3 more radical Justices, for being just shockingly ready to abuse his power.
His Concurrence to the Roe Opinion shows how radical the man has become.
It wasn’t enough for Roe to simply be overturned. Thomas’s concurrence argued that the regressive Constitutional reading on which overturning Roe sits also allows for other privacy based rights to be stripped away. Which ones? He specified: the right to contraception, the right to marry whomever you love (even if you happen to be gay), and the right to privacy in your own bedroom.
And not only could the same legal justification be used to strip these other American rights, Thomas says it should. According to The New York Times: “The same rationale that the Supreme Court used to declare there was no right to abortion, [Thomas] said, should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.”
“Justice Thomas wrote that the court “should reconsider” all three decisions, saying it had a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents.”
Texas seeks to pursue Thomas’s advice
And despite Justice Alito’s insistence in his majority opinion overturning Roe that the ruling would only apply to abortion, already states like Missouri are working to ban access to certain kinds of contraception, while states like Texas are advancing a Republican platform that specifically denies legitimacy to the State’s gay population.
The Texas Republican platform is particularly insidious. While it purports to protect “innocent human life” from “fertilization to natural death,” the platform itself rejects Biden’s 2020 electoral victory, suggests the establishment of a permanent 2nd class citizenry by calling for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act, and explicitly labels homosexuality an “abnormal lifestyle.” It even demands a statewide vote on secession.
And this is the battle we face going forward:
A Republican opposition that is determined to legislate theocratically from Judicial Benches, State Capitols, and Congress itself. A Republican opposition so committed to self-deception that the following line was included in the Texas platform: “We reject the certified results of the 2020 presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States.”
At the Texas Republican convention, GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi had the following to say of working with the State’s democrats toward a mutual vision of the future: “We can’t compromise with Democrats who have a different and incompatible vision for our future. We need to be a bold and unapologetic conservative party, ready to go on offense and win the fight for our country.”
The Rising Tide of Republican Big Government Authoritarianism
Rinaldi is right about one thing. We must ready ourselves to stand against the rising tide of authoritarianism and radical Christian theocracy by expanding the Supreme Court, codifying voting rights, and codifying Roe.
As NYT Columnist Charles Blow put it in his June 22 piece about the sad reality of this Supreme Court’s affect on our nation: “There is no finality in the battle for civil rights. Wins don’t stay won. They must be defended and can sometimes be reversed.”