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Right-wing Christians have radical ambitions to weaponize the Supreme Court — beyond banning abortion

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In Alabama, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law the most severe and draconian anti-abortion restriction in the United States: the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, which is almost a total ban on abortion in that state. The law, which forbids abortion even in cases of rape or incest and calls for sentences of up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortion, is so extreme that even far-right evangelist Pat Robertson thinks it goes too far. Friday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” anti-abortion conservative David French told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that the law is “100%” certain to be struck down in the lower courts as unconstitutional — without having a chance to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court for evaluation.

But the possibility of the Alabama Human Life Protection Act eventually being examined by the Supreme Court is exactly what Alabama Republicans have in mind: they are hoping that the High Court will reevaluate Roe, rule that it was wrongly decided and overturn it. And if Roe is overturned, that would be only the tip of the iceberg as far as Supreme Court rulings that could set back social progress in the United States. Roe was a right-to-privacy decision, and if socially conservative justices like Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch rule that Roe was wrongly decided, they could also strike strong decisions affecting everything from LGBTQ rights to access to contraception.

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Here are some landmark Supreme Court decisions that could potentially be reversed if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

1. Griswold v. Connecticut

In 1965, feminist Estelle Griswold (who served as director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut) challenged a Connecticut law banning contraception use by married couples—and in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren declared, in a 7-2 vote, that the law was unconstitutional. The High Court ruled that the law violated a couple’s “right to marital privacy,” and the right-to-privacy concept was subsequently used in Roe v. Wade. If the High Court decides that Roe was wrongly decided and is a violation of states’ rights, it could just as easily overturn Griswold as well and rule that access to contraception should be determined on a state-by-state basis.

2.  Stanley v. Georgia

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Obscenity laws in the U.S. deal with creation, sales and distribution rather than simple possession. In Roth v. the United States in 1957 and the 1973 ruling that tweaked it, Miller v. California, the Supreme Court ruled that sexually explicit material is legal as long as it isn’t obscene—and what is or isn’t obscene is determined by juries. The Warren Court’s 1969 ruling in Stanley v. Georgia, using the right-to-privacy concept in Griswold, determined that individuals could still be prosecuted for creating or selling obscene material but not for merely possessing it. But if Thomas, Kavanaugh and others overturned Stanley, Americans could face criminal prosecution simply for possessing hardcore porn that a prosecutor believed was obscene. 

3. Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972)

The Supreme Court’s 1972 ruling in Eisenstadt v. Baird was an expansion of Griswold, extending access to contraception to unmarried couples. Eisenstadt struck down a Massachusetts law that prohibited the sale of contraception to unmarried couples, and it had a right-to-privacy element previously used in Griswold and Stanley. If the High Court decides that Roe was wrongly decided, it would likely draw the same conclusion about Eisenstadt as well.

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4. Lawrence v. Texas

The reversal of Roe could have a domino effect in which the Supreme Court reevaluated a long list of right-to-private rulings, including 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas—which struck down a sodomy law in Texas as unconstitutional and in doing so, invalidated anti-gay sodomy laws nationwide. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a libertarian, was a “yes” vote in Lawrence v. Texas, while Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Justice Antonin Scalia were among the dissenters. But Kennedy has since been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a social conservative in the Thomas/Scalia vein. And if Roe and Griswold are overturned as violations of states’ rights, it is entirely possible that the Court’s socially conservative majority would reverse Lawrence and rule that anti-gay sodomy laws—like access to abortion or contraception—should be determined on a state-by-state basis.

5. Obergefell v. Hodges

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The states’ rights argument has been used to defend a variety of injustices over the years. In the 1950s, apologists for racist Jim Crow laws argued that while Massachusetts or New Jersey could have racial integration if they wanted it, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama should be free to discriminate against African-Americans and apply their own standards. And many years later, when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide with its 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, critics of the decision made the same type of argument—insisting that Texas or Louisiana shouldn’t have to govern marriage in the same way as California. If the “states’ rights” argument is successfully used in overturning Roe, it could also be used in overturning Obergefell.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump goes into full attack against another American company — Ford motors

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President Donald Trump went off on another Twitter rant Wednesday, taking aim at another American company.

"Henry Ford would be very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn’t work as well, because execs don’t want to fight California regulators. Car companies should know that when this Administration’s alternative is no longer available, California will squeeze them to a point of business ruin. Only reason California is now talking to them is because the Feds are giving a far better alternative, which is much better for consumers!" Trump tweeted.

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Rudy Giuliani sneaked off to meet Ukrainian officials in Madrid about Biden conspiracy theories: report

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On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani secretly traveled to Madrid in recent weeks to meet with a top aide of new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to go fishing for dirt on Democrats.

One of the key focuses of Giuliani's phone calls and in-person meetings was to try to dig up evidence that former Vice President Joe Biden acted improperly to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating an energy company his son was invested in — which has been broadly discredited as conspiracy theories. He also tried to hunt for proof that Ukrainian officials colluded with Democrats to hurt Trump's campaign in 2016, a claim which is not supported by evidence.

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At least eight prison officials knew Epstein wasn’t supposed to be left alone — but they did it anyway: report

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On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that at least eight staffers at the Bureau of Prisons were aware that arrested hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein could be a risk to himself if left unsupervised — raising further questions about why exactly guards left him to his own devices on the night that he allegedly hanged himself.

Investigators reportedly believe that at least some of these officials were aware that he had been left alone. It is unclear why nobody intervened, and the Justice Department is continuing with its investigation. Attorney General William Barr recently ordered the removal of the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons.

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