Justice David Souter’s announcement of his forthcoming retirement is a stark reminder that elections matter: The decisions made by the nine justices who sit on the nation’s highest court have far-reaching consequences for the daily lives of every American. With this pending vacancy, President Obama has the opportunity to nominate an individual who, like the majority of Coloradans — and, in fact, the majority of Americans — supports the constitutional right to privacy as reflected in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Justice Souter’s absence means the four anti-choice votes represented by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas will be countered only by three pro-choice votes, those of Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Stevens. Justice Anthony Kennedy, regarded as the key swing vote on cases related to reproductive rights, has sided with Justices Scalia and Thomas in the last two major cases related to reproductive rights. Clearly, whoever fills Justice Souter’s seat will join a court that has become more hostile to a woman’s right to choose.
Just as clear, and more important, is the fact that the court’s composition underscores why it is critical for President Obama to nominate — and for the U.S. Senate to confirm — a successor who will uphold the fundamental American value of respecting individual freedom and privacy that prevents politicians from interfering in our most personal decisions.
Since President Obama’s inauguration, anti-choice organizations across the nation have been solidifying their base in anticipation of today’s announcement. Make no mistake: The confirmation of President Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee will not be allowed to pass without a divisive attack by those who oppose women’s freedom and privacy. NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado will not let their propaganda go unanswered. We will stand strong with America’s pro-choice majority to ensure the constitutional right to privacy is not curtailed.
Emilie C. Ailts
Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado