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Supreme Court abortion rights reversal risks Loving v. Virginia

OPINION AND COMMENTARY

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Mildred and Richard Loving battled the ban against interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia. If the US Supreme Court reverses its precedent on abortion, activists fear interracial marriage could be next.

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If and when the US Supreme Court gets around to banning interracial marriage, my husband and I wonder what will happen.

Will we be fined $1,000 a day until we come to our senses and realize, after two decades of wedded bliss, that Justice Samuel Alito is right and our union is not ingrained in American history and, as such, should be dissolved?

Will there be trigger laws in places that will see us jailed once we cross a state line? Will we have to carry our marriage license everywhere we go? (We were married in Florida so they’ll probably just revoke it.)

Maybe we will simply be grandfathered into a narrow window of time when this nation’s leadership was not hellbent on overturning every inch of hard-won progress America has made in the last 50 years.

I don’t wish to sound alarmist, but a lot of things we have taken for granted during the last half-century appear to be crumbling before our eyes. If you are not in a constant state of alarm, then you are not paying attention.

When Justice Neil Gorsuch appeared at confirmation hearings in 2017, he said Roe v. Wade was settled law.

“Precedent… deserves our respect,” Gorsuch said. “And to come in and think that just because I’m new or the latest thing I’d know better than everybody who comes before me would be an act of hubris.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 said Roe “is settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court, entitled the respect under principles of stare decisis.” The latter being the term for historic decisions that deserve judicial reverence.

It’s a surprise that in the recently leaked draft opinion that foresees Roe v. Wade being overturned by summer, those two justices voted in favor of sending the nation on a blast to the past, pre-1973.

What happened? The answer is simple. They lied to land a job with lifetime tenure. If Kavanaugh and Gorsuch had been under oath, it would be perjury.

No precedent is intact

It would be foolish to accept that interracial marriage is settled law. The possibility of a challenge to Loving v. Virginia, a 1967 decision that legalized interracial marriage and is celebrated on Loving Day (June 12), should be taken seriously.

In March, Republican Sen. Mike Braun, of Indiana, said states should have the right to ban interracial marriage. Braun later attempted to tiptoe away from the issue, saying he was against racism in any way. Notably, he did not say he was in favor of Americans marrying whomever they damn well please. The senator said he “misunderstood” the question.

Let’s not have any misunderstanding about where we are in this radical and reductive stage of Americanism. Like the Supreme Court itself, your rights will not be expanding. Indeed, every right you believe you possess without limit is now under judicial scrutiny and subject to revision.

The Pew Research Center found that about 1 in 5 newlyweds married someone of a different race or ethnicity in 2019. Black and white couples made up 11% of interracial/interethnic marriages, while Hispanic and white couples constituted the largest share at over 40%, according to US Census data that tracked interracial marriages from 2000 to 2016.

In the 2020 Census, respondents who identified as multiracial increased 127% in 10 years. The growing numbers may indeed be the problem for many who would seek to ban such unions.

Many legal experts see the presumptive court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade as opening the door to future legal challenges of the rights to interracial marriage, contraception and same-sex marriage. Particularly at risk are those rights not “deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition,” as noted in Alito’s draft opinion.

Interracial “sex” is certainly rooted in American history—did Sally Hemings, enslaved and impregnated by Thomas Jefferson, have her choice of lovers? Marriage, not so much.

This activist, right-wing court appears to desire acting against the people’s majority and any established laws. It cares little for precedent and, I’d be willing to bet, even less for your right to marry whomever you love.

I just hope they get on with it. Our 30th anniversary is around the corner, and we have big plans for renewing our vows. We’d rather not do it from prison.

Michelle Deal-Zimmerman is a senior content editor for features and an advisory member of The Baltimore Sun’s Editorial Board.

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