Dear Justice Thomas, I write this letter as an elected city commissioner in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who every day works to ensure the health, happiness, and safety of our citizens.
Although you were joined by four other justices in overturning Roe v. Wade (three of whom lied under oath on this very subject in their confirmation hearings), you are being singled out because of your stated agenda to go much further than Roe and “reconsider” precedents that include barring the criminalization of private, consensual sexual acts; legalizing same-sex marriage; and protecting the rights of married people to have access to contraception. Before I go further, full disclosure: in 1991, I watched your confirmation hearings and I believed the very courageous Anita Hill. Unfortunately, the Senate confirmed you on a tight 52-48 vote and the nation has suffered under your service all these years.
As an openly gay man living with my husband of 49 years (eight of which are legal), I and millions of other citizens have every right to fear what comes next with this new, radicalized Supreme Court. Women are now relegated to second-class citizenship and the anger that I felt two days after your ruling will stay with me for quite some time. We will now watch women die — mostly poor women and women of color. Which reminds me — interesting that when you wrote about court precedents that should be reconsidered, you omitted Loving v. Virginia which overturned bans on interracial marriage. Why? Do you think that the interracial love between you and your wife is any different or is above the love of the millions of same-sex couples? Ironic that you concur with Justice Samuel Alito when he says that abortion is not “deeply rooted in the nation's history and traditions” and, yet, neither was interracial marriage. Let me be clear: I am in no way arguing that we should return to those awful days. My point is that society evolves and the Supreme Court should always consider the pulse of the nation and do whatever it can to interpret the Constitution in modern-day terms.
Running the risk of being accused of hyperbole, I truly believe that the overturning of Roe v. Wade harkens back to the Supreme Court rulings in Dred Scott and Plessy which relegated Black Americans to second-class citizens and worse. Is that the divisiveness that we can expect now from this Supreme Court? Will our future see the stripping away of one Constitutional right after another? When stating that abortion is “a matter to be decided by the states” are we not headed toward a Divided States of America? You have now opened the door for the criminalization of women and doctors in half of our nation; trigger laws are now in effect. What’s next? Will states, such as Florida, that still have sodomy laws on the books test the limits of that law? What about contraception? What about abortion medication? What about traveling across state lines for access to any of the above?
The Court majority took the additional, dangerous step of going beyond simply upholding the Mississippi law; that was deliberate and in the works for decades. It is time to examine term limits for Supreme Court justices and it is time for every American who feels outraged today to vote in November and support candidates who will pass laws to protect safe, legal, and affordable abortion. We can never return to the dark days of back-alley abortions and women using coat hangers to end a pregnancy. Health care and reproductive rights should not only apply to people of means. Our country is better than this.
Although I doubt this letter will have any impact on you, I feel better for writing it and I am committed more than ever to continuing the fight.
Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Steven Glassman