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  • June 5, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Sarah Lipton-Lubet, Director of Reproductive Health Programs, National Partnership for Women & Families

    *This post is part of ACSblog’s symposium honoring the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.

    On Sunday, I’m getting married.  As I prepare for this milestone and draft my vows, I’m thinking about our life together and the family we might someday create.  About the promises we’ll make to support each other through life’s twists and turns.  And about our partnership in decision making and family life.

    In this moment, my mind turns to Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 U.S. Supreme Court decision first protecting the right of married couples to access contraception, which will mark its 50th anniversary on the day of my wedding.

    These two events are inextricably linked – and not only because I’m a reproductive rights advocate.  Griswold is foundational to my equality in our upcoming marriage.  It guarantees my ability to pursue my chosen career (law) the same way that my fiancé pursues his (medicine).  Griswold allows my career to be valued in our relationship and ensures that our joint decisions will further our professional choices.  And it enabled us to spend the last 3 1/2 years in a wonderful romance exploring the potential of a life together – without being forced into parenthood before we are ready.

    Griswold makes my marriage possible because it makes my life possible.  Professors Reva Siegel and Neil Siegel have described Griswold as “offer[ing] women the most significant constitutional protection since the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote, constitutional protection as important as the cases prohibiting sex discrimination that the Court would decide in the next decade – perhaps even more so.”  The Connecticut ban at issue in Griswold prohibited “[a]ny person” from “us[ing] any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception.”  This denied women control over their reproductive lives, affecting their ability to obtain an education, pursue their careers, become financially stable, and follow their dreams.  As the U.S. Supreme Court put it three decades later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”

  • June 5, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a voice vote to report out of committee four judicial nominees. Dale A. Drozd, nominee for United States District Judge for the Eastern District of California, Lawrence J. Vilardo, nominee for United States District Judge for the Western District of New York, and Ann Donnelly and LaShann DeArcy Hall, nominees for United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, were all voted out of committee.

    As the blog for the Alliance for Justice explains, these four district court nominees are nominated to “some of the most overburdened courts in the country.” Whether Senator Mitch McConnell will allow the Senate to confirm these qualified nominees is still unclear. But with three of the four nominees slated to fill designated “judicial emergencies,” there is added pressure for the Senate to consider them quickly.  

    Despite this important and positive move for judicial nominations, many other areas of the country still have longstanding judicial emergencies. Texas courts, in particular, are severely overburdened due to the large number of judicial vacancies. The blog for the Alliance for Justice takes a look at the situation in Texas, arguing that “the Senate’s Republican majority in 2015 has so far fallen short of its constitutional duty to confirm judicial nominees.” As the blog for People for the American Way argues, Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are largely responsible for the “dire straits” of the federal court system in Texas.

    There are currently 56 vacancies, and 24 are now considered judicial emergencies. There are 17 pending nominees. For more information see judicialnominations.org.

  • June 5, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    In the Los Angeles Times, ACS President Caroline Fredrickson discusses the importance of whether “sharing economy” workers are considered employees or independent contractors.

    Adam Liptak reports in The New York Times on the rise of the Supreme Court Justices as celebrities and takes a look at their significant number of public appearances, including the ACS National Convention.

    At The Economist’s Democracy in America blog, Steven Mazie looks at the Supreme Court’s decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch and the implications of the ruling that a retailer could be held liable for failing to hire a Muslim teenager who wears a headscarf.

    Mark Joseph Stern of Slate writes that conservative Supreme Court justices voiced frustration at the Court’s decision not to hear a case that could have resulted in significant reductions in the constitutional protections for undocumented immigrants.

    At Salon, Valerie Tarico interviews a Texas abortion counselor and considers how to create a more productive dialogue about abortion.

  • June 4, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Greg Sargent reports in The Washington Post that it looks more likely that the GOP will not have a contingency plan in place should the Supreme Court rule against the Affordable Care Act.

    At Salon, Simon Maloy explains how a Supreme Court ruling against the Affordable Care Act would prove difficult for GOP governors and create chaos in the healthcare system.

    Mark Joseph Stern discusses in Slate the Supreme Court’s “logical, humane decision” that ruled against the deportation of a permanent resident for a minor drug offense.

    At MSNBC, Irin Carmon writes that the North Carolina legislature has passed a 72-hour abortion waiting period.

    At the blog for the Brennan Center for Justice, Eric Petry considers a bipartisan bill that would provide a stopgap should the Supreme Court strike down redistricting commissions.

  • June 4, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Jill Adams, Executive Director, Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

    *This post is part of ACSblog’s symposium honoring the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.

    When it comes to our most intimate experiences and decisions, the right to privacy should arm the many, not just shield the few who can afford to pay for it.  We’ve learned in the years since Griswold v. Connecticut that privacy is not a panacea for the fulfillment of all people’s sexual and reproductive rights.  The right to privacy has not granted secure and reliable respect for decisions we make in our bedrooms and about our bodies.  This is especially disappointing in a country that places such a legal and cultural premium on matters of autonomy and individualism – particularly in the private sphere.

    Cast in the mold of Griswold’s privacy-based right to use contraception, the right to choose abortion declared in Roe v. Wade similarly presents an important avenue but imperfect vehicle for everyone’s guaranteed arrival at reproductive self-determination.  Courts have allowed the proliferation of countless contractions, exemptions, and restrictions on the rights to abortion and contraception, siphoning power out of the hands of individuals wishing to exercise their reproductive rights and into the hands of states, corporations, and institutions wishing to constrain or control them.

     
    Is privacy really a “right” if you can’t afford to exercise it?
     
    The abstract right to use reproductive health services  free from governmental interference rings hollow without the necessary, enabling conditions to ensure access to such services and the ability to make decisions about them free from coercion by person, system, or circumstance.  For low-income people, and other marginalized populations, the right to privacy may merely be a right on paper if it is not a right they can actually afford to exercise.