Opinion: How far will the Supreme Court drag us back? – The Denver Post

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been feeling his oats lately thanks to the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling in June.

With the concurrence of the conservative majority, including Colorado’s own Neil Gorsuch, Thomas relishes the fact that they achieved the longtime goal of overturning Roe v. Wade. This exuberance from conservative members of the court could wreak havoc on liberties enjoyed by many in modern America.

The ruling was not a surprise since Republicans in Congress, state legislatures, church pulpits, and think tanks broadcasted for decades their desire to put the kibosh on a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body. Many socially conservative politicos want women’s reproductive health controlled by the government.

Luckily, that won’t happen in Colorado. Lawmakers voted to protect abortion rights by passing a measure signed by the governor last spring called the Reproductive Health Equity Act. However, Colorado and other states may have to address other basic human rights if the associate justice gets his way.

While Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court’s majority opinion that leaves abortion rights to the states, Thomas made sure to add his 2 cents in a separate concurrence.

It suggests that SCOTUS should at least consider doing the same with marriage equality, the right to contraceptives, and the ban on laws against private sexual acts.

Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper voted last week for the Respect for Marriage Act bill that’s designed to shore up both same-sex and interracial marriage. The final passage is expected after Thanksgiving.

Could a newly-minted law slow Thomas’ roll when the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of all laws?

The 74-year-old jurist is expected to take a far-right approach to an Affirmative Action case this session because he believes such programs carry the taint of racial preference and thus, by association, labels Black beneficiaries as inferior to white competitors.

An Affirmative Action student himself, he blamed this “taint theory” for his inability to get a job right after graduating Yale Law School.

Thomas is also leaning towards further eroding the 1965 Voting Rights Act whose opponents say must be diluted because race should never be taken into account to justify mid-century laws that are designed to improve the lives of Black Americans.

It makes one wonder, would this Black man with a white wife draw the line if the Christian right took aim at Loving v. Virginia.

The 1967 Landmark Supreme Court case sanctioned interracial marriage and sexual relations between people of different races.

Some argue that not even right-wing extremists want to give states, especially in the deep South, the chance to revive anti-miscegenation laws.

They must have forgotten that even so-called moderates were comfortable with the January 6 riot and White Nationalists imitating Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia with chants of “Jews will not replace us.”

That same acceptance may be tacitly fostering the recent spike in Coloradans feeling free to express hatred openly.

The FBI says reported hate crimes rose 68% in our state in 2020 with the vast majority targeting people of color.

A state coalition of nonprofits called Hate Free Colorado says three out of every ten Coloradans have experienced a hate crime in the last five years.

Remember, you don’t have to be physically assaulted or have a brick thrown through your window to be unnerved by people full of hate.

An older Black woman in Denver told me a few years agothat she refused to hold her white husband’s hand in public for fear of attracting unwanted attention during the reign of Donald Trump. This was the man she has loved for over 50 years of marriage.

Coloradans who believe in human rights must remain vigilant to ensure that what happened to Roe doesn’t happen to Loving.

Let’s hope that Clarence Thomas and his extreme right cohorts understand that their decision on Dobbs contributed to the low tide that was supposed to be a red wave for Republicans in the midterm elections.

Voters may have quelled, for now, nascent rumblings among racists for the high court to take a look at the decision that codified the union of Richard and Mildred Loving.

However, SCOTUS is not beholden to the electorate and can continue to implement an extreme agenda that could include striking down The Respect for Marriage Act if it becomes law; already conservative voices claim the act infringes on religious freedom.

And don’t forget, Clarence Thomas has the propensity to be self-hating when it serves the cause of right-wing extremism.

Jo Ann Allen hosts the podcast Been There Done That, which celebrates the 55th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia in the episode that publishes on Thanksgiving Eve at https//:beentheredonethatpodcast.com. She started her journalism career in 1975 at The Capital Times newspaper in Madison, WI. She spent 18 years as a news anchor at WNYC/New York Public Radio, and also worked as an anchor at KPBS Radio in San Diego, WHYY Radio in Philadelphia and Colorado Public Radio in Denver.

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