June 24, 2022

The Heartbreak and Harm of the Dobbs Decision

Russ Feingold President

This is a devastating day for reproductive rights, for the legitimacy of our highest court, and for this country. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is an unjust decision that will inflict enormous harm on millions of people’s lives across the country. I am outraged, scared, and heartbroken, as I know you are too. Our pain, anger and fear are valid and appropriate. Never before has the Supreme Court taken away a fundamental right. These are dark days. Please take care of yourself and your loved ones. On days like this, I am so grateful to be a part of this organization and to be working alongside all of you toward a more just future.

You can read ACS’s full statement in response to Dobbs here. A couple immediate resources we all should have on hand:

  • You can find your local abortion fund here. One immediate step you can take to support abortion rights is to support abortion funds.
  • Ineedana.com and Abortionfinder.org are websites that list clinics in the country that provide abortion services, and they are being updated in response to Dobbs. Help those in your personal network who are in need of abortion care to navigate this moment with accurate and reliable information.
  • We’ve also created this webpage with these and other resources for people looking for information in light of the Dobbs decision.

ACS 2022 Convention
I do want to take a minute to thank everyone who joined us at our national convention, either in person or virtually. After two years of virtual conventions, it was wonderful to connect with so many ACS members, friends, and allies, particularly as we work together to confront unprecedented threats to our constitutional democracy and to our civil rights.

The convention emphasized three of our biggest priorities right now as a progressive legal movement and as an organization: safeguarding democracy in this moment of truth, the urgent need to reform the Supreme Court, and our collective, all-hands-on-deck effort to protect abortion rights. It seems like every day these challenges become more and more glaring.

January 6th Select Committee Hearings
I hope everyone is watching the January 6th Select Committee’s public hearings, either live or catching up on them afterwards. The first hearing this week detailed former President Trump’s efforts to vilify, threaten, and pressure state election officials to overturn the outcome of the election. For me, one of the most alarming parts of that hearing was listening to Shaye Moss, a former election worker in Georgia, talk about how she and her former colleagues are no longer election workers because of the harassment and threats they have received for doing their job. And the threats are ongoing, as we are seeing in real time across the country. Proponents of the “Big Lie” are targeting election officials, hoping to replace them with fellow proponents who have no allegiance to the rule of law. This is so, so dangerous. We need election workers, and we need election workers who are committed to the law and to voting rights.

Let me take this moment to urge everyone who hasn’t already taken our poll worker pledge to do so. One of the most concrete things you can do to protect democracy this election cycle is to serve as a poll worker.

Yesterday’s hearing by the Select Committee demonstrated how Trump tried to corrupt the Department of Justice for his personal gain. The hearing included a detailed depiction of what came eerily close to a repeat of the Saturday Night Massacre from the Watergate era, as multiple DOJ officials threatened to quit if Trump insisted on appointing Jeffrey Clark acting Attorney General solely so that he could do the president’s bidding in trying to overthrow our democracy. The hearing was a stark reminder of how much the strength and resilience of our institutions rest on the strength and resilience of the people who staff those institutions, and their commitment to the constitution and the rule of law.

In combination, these hearings have revealed just how close we came to a constitutional crisis in this country – and has left no doubt about the ongoing and acute threat that continues to face our democracy. The onus is on each and every one of us to side with democracy, to ensure that this country is led by the rule of law and not by mob rule.

Supreme Court Decisions
In addition to Dobbs, the Supreme Court handed down more extreme and unsound decisions, making sweeping and reckless changes to our laws and legal systems. The Court intentionally and deliberately made it harder for states to protect the American public from gun violence. With Bruen, the conservative supermajority again betrayed a core weakness of originalism by relying on its own reading of history—and dismissing much of the historical evidence offered by New York State. Read our full statement in response to the Bruen decision here.

The Court also left no doubt this week that it is prepared to overrule the long-standing precedent underlying Miranda, ruling that people who are not read their Miranda rights have no right to sue over it, which leaves no redress for people who suffer these civil rights violations but are found not guilty, as in this case. This is a consistent theme from this Court, making it difficult, if not impossible at times, for individuals to vindicate their rights when violated. And, the Court has told Maine – and in turn other states – that it must fund religious education. These decisions are the byproduct of the conservative supermajority’s own partisan agenda and alarming indifference to what the law actually says, to historic fact, or the implications of its decisions.

With each brash decision, the Court is fanning the flames of its own legitimacy crisis. We say this often, the Court has no enforcement mechanism of its own. It relies on public trust and confidence to enforce its decisions. And yet, public trust and confidence in the Court are consistently sinking. In Gallup’s most recent poll, conducted this month, only 25 percent of Americans have confidence in the Court. This is a decline of 11 percent from just last year. And this poll was conducted before Dobbs...

The Court’s reputation is plummeting. That’s not good for the Court or for our democracy. We need to reform the Supreme Court, to redress the Right’s packing of the Court, and to restore the Court’s legitimacy.

I say it often and I’ll say it again, the progressive legal community has never been more important than it is right now. Thank you for being a part of this organization and this movement. Our work continues.

Criminal Justice, Democracy and Elections, Democracy and Voting, Establishment Clause (or Separation of Church and State), Hearings, Importance of the Courts, January 6th, Policing, Reproductive Rights, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Reform