Checking the Balance

Supreme Court decisions that don’t parallel public opinion should face review by other branches


12 agree / 1 disagree

With their decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court reinterpreted the 14th Amendment, denying that a right to privacy exists, much to the disappointment of the majority of Americans. According to a Gallup poll taken in May 2022, 55% of Americans personally identify themselves as “pro-choice.” This represented a gain of 6 percent points from May 2021.

In December 2021, the Supreme Court declined to intervene in the Texas’ Heartbeat Protection Act, which banned medical professionals from performing abortions once a fetus’ heartbeat could be detected. The Court decided they lacked proper jurisdiction because they saw each state had the right to determine whether abortions would be performed.

In June 2022, the Court overturned New York’s proposed concealed carry law. Why did the Supreme Court decide to intervene in New York’s proposed state amendment about guns but not Texas’ abortion amendment? They’re both state issues, why did the Court decide they wouldn’t intervene in the Texas’ proposed law about abortion? 

The answer is simple; the Court sees an issue with women controlling what they do with their bodies but not the life-threatening weapon New York tried to mandate. 

The Supreme Court also ruled police officers are not legally required to recite the Miranda Rights, which warn all arrested individuals they cannot be forced to incriminate themselves. The citizens police officers arrest will begin to confess to their crimes because they don’t know they have a right not to.

The Supreme Court has continued to overturn constitutional rights and they show no sign of stopping.

The executive and legislative branches should be holding the Supreme Court accountable by protecting the rights the Court is targeting. Bills must be passed by the House and Senate to protect the rights the 14th Amendment addresses. 

The House of Representatives recently passed a bill that protects same-sex marriage. They did so after Judge Clarence Thomas said the Supreme Court cases allowing for contraception (Griswold v. Connecticut) and same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges) should be reconsidered. He said the Court has “a duty to correct the error established in those precedents” in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Court Opinion document.

The House of Representatives and Senate must continue to pass bills that protect the unenumerated rights addressed in the 14th Amendment and others before the Supreme Court has a chance to overturn them.

Since the ratification of the 14th Amendment, it has been referenced by the Supreme Court in several landmark cases. Examples include Brown v. Board of Education, Plessy v. Ferguson and Roe v. Wade. In simple terms, the 14th Amendment guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law. 

Section One of the Amendment says no state “shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States,” and the state at which they live. It does not mention the federal government.

 When the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, the premise was that privacy was an unspecified right and medical records were seen as private. Abortion was a matter of privacy between doctor and patient. With the Dobbs decision, privacy, as a constitutional right, is no longer recognized. 

The current Supreme Court said that if a right such as privacy is unspecified, it should not be protected in the Bill of Rights. They have overturned established case law in 1965.