OPINION | Your vote impacts everyone

Doxey Kamara, Intersections Editor

Nathan Rich

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which has since allowed states to declare abortion illegal, prompted feelings of anxiety and a near-immediate activist response. The opinion of the court, available to the public on the Supreme Court’s website, contains the thoughts and arguments of the individual associate justices. The majority opinion states that the 14th Amendment does not protect an American’s right to seek an abortion.

This decision reminds Americans that a Supreme Court ruling is not a permanent protection of one’s rights. In his concurring statement regarding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly called for the reconsideration of three cases: Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell. Griswold v. Connecticut established that the government cannot interfere with a married couple’s right to buy and use contraceptives. Lawrence v. Texas ruled that sex between two consenting adults is protected by a constitutional right to privacy. Obergefell v. Hodges ruled that lawful same-sex marriage must be recognized by all states. Thomas alleged that all of these rulings were erroneous.

Each of these rights are protected by the 14th Amendment in the same way that the right to abortion was protected before Roe v. Wade was repealed. Justice Thomas, the only Black man currently serving on the Supreme Court, made no mention of the fact that this amendment also protects the right to his interracial marriage. After the Dobbs ruling was announced and Thomas’ explicit call to reconsider the Court ruling protecting same-sex marriage, Vice President Kamala Harris said the decision also called one’s right to interracial marriage into question. 

Because there is no clear line as to what rights — particularly those protected by the Obergefell v. Hodges and Loving v. Virginia rulings — will continue to be protected by the 14th Amendment, there is no guarantee that they will be federally protected forever. As Americans prepare for election season, this fact should be at the forefront of voters’ minds. If all of these rulings were to somehow be revoked, that would not mean the death of same-sex marriage or interracial marriage. That would not mean that access to contraception would immediately vanish across the nation. However, it would mean that these would all become state’s rights issues. State officials, not federal ones, would decide which rights would and would not be granted to their constituents.

That means you.

While the complete and total repeal of the rights these rulings protect is a nightmare scenario, it serves as a great reminder of the fact that votes carry a lot of weight. The presidency and the Supreme Court are not the only offices in the nation.

If you can vote, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission has a list of resources and helpful links available online.

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