Many key Supreme Court cases that have a huge impact on women’s rights – including recent decisions restricting the right to abortion and the right to challenge pay discrimination – were decided by narrow 5-4 margins. Some of the cases that got the most attention in the Supreme Court term that just ended, like those on gun control, the death penalty and the rights of those held at Guantanamo Bay, were also decided on 5-4 votes. All these cases remind us – as newspaper editorials and articles have pointed out - that we must pay attention to the Supreme Court, because it is treading on our hard-won rights, and is “on the brink” of doing even more serious harm.
It is highly likely that the new President will get to nominate at least one new justice, if not more, to the Supreme Court. With even one more justice in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas, there would be five justices – a solid majority – who would undermine long-established and cherished legal rights. That majority could decimate women’s right to privacy, including Roe v. Wade, basic health and safety, and freedom from discrimination in the workplace and in school. With a new justice who comes to the Court with respect for the legal rights of women, as does Justice Ginsburg, at a minimum the current balance would be maintained, and beyond that, long-standing protections for important civil rights, including women’s rights, at least stand a fighting chance.
We all need to stay informed about what is happening in our country, and make sure that the next person appointed to the Supreme Court understands what’s on the line for women’s rights – and all our rights.