Seated from left: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left: Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.
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Alexia Korberg was one of the lawyers who argued against the repeal of Roe v. Wade at the SCOTUS.
Korberg said that the “devastating” decision could spell trouble for all other legally protected rights.
In his opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas called for same-sex marriage to be “reconsidered.”
One of the lawyers who litigated Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization before the Supreme Court told Insider that the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday could set up a catastrophic backsliding of fundamental liberty rights.
Supreme Court justices voted 5-4 on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, in a majority opinion supported by conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
The core of the challenge to abortion rights that had been codified for 50 years was a Mississippi law that aimed to ban abortion after 15 weeks – which is stricter than the 24-week standard set by Roe v. Wade.
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Alito wrote in the opinion.
Clarence Thomas alluded that rulings dealing with access to contraception and same-sex marriage should be “reconsidered” in his opinion.
Alexia Korberg, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, was one of the lawyers who pushed hard against the repeal of abortion rights on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. They were also involved in United States v. Windsor, successfully suing the government and winning one of the most consequential supreme court decisions which helped lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.
They told Insider that they are now worried about a further repeal of liberty rights — or rights that then make certain actions permissible, like abortion — which is the exact reality that Thomas described in his opinion.
Thank you for taking the time to chat on this day. Can you describe to me the depth of you and your clients’ reactions to today’s SCOTUS decision?
Although I’ve spoken to our clients, I can’t begin to imagine or articulate how the people who risk their lives every single day to provide abortion care are feeling knowing that so many pregnant people will no longer be able to access this critical healthcare and exert control over their own bodies and lives.
I’m devastated. As a parent and spouse to a daughter and wife, and friend to so many women who may become pregnant and need to avail themselves of what has been a Constitutional right that generations have relied on. As a lawyer who understands the importance of the rule of law and the stability of our laws. And as an American — part of “We the People,” who our Constitution was written by and for, to whom its protections are promised, and who for the first time in American history has had a fundamental constitutional right stripped away.
What kind of domino effect on civil liberties could this decision have?
Today’s opinion isn’t just an attack on abortion rights, but rather the whole string of what we fairly call the “liberty rights.” The logic of the majority opinion allows no other outcome. In our legal system, cases build on each other, like a stack of blocks. The right to abortion arises out of the right to purchase and use contraception and in turn, the rights to same-sex intimacy and marriage arise from the right to abortion. You can’t just remove a single block in the tower without everything falling down.
What else is important for readers to know about the impact of this decision in the US and on people seeking abortion care generally?
The decision today does not itself outlaw abortion in the US. Instead, it means that states are now, for the first time in half of a century, free to make abortion illegal within individual state borders. What that means is that if you are living in a state that has or will outlaw abortion, please know that you can travel to another state where you can still access safe and legal abortion care. Obviously, only those with the money and resources to afford to travel, take time off of work, and find childcare will be able to do so — which is why today’s decision will only further entrench the already crushing racial, gender, and economic inequality that so many in this country already endure.