About 40 people gathered at Bennington's Four Corners on Friday evening to protest the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

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Register to vote. Then vote.

Not tomorrow. Today.

Local ballots for the Aug. 9 primary are available; early voting has begun. And the need for your voice to be heard has never been greater.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued rulings that go against the will of most Americans, proving what we’ve feared — that the majority of us are no longer guaranteed justice at the highest judicial level. It’s time to ensure our votes reflect our voices and values.

The high court issued a decision Thursday that expands access to guns at a time when the slaughter of school children, minorities and even the random public has been front and center. As a nation, we wept following the massacres, and demanded help from decision-makers at every level to stop the violence.

President Biden said, “I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety. Lives are on the line.” Even the most divided Congress in memory was able to quickly pull together for the first time and take baby steps on the issue of gun access.

Yet the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, in a ruling guaranteed to put guns in the hands of more Americans, not fewer, struck down a New York gun law that had been in place since 1913, restricting the right to carry concealed weapons in public. Think about that the next time you enter a movie theater, mall, restaurant or school building in the Empire State.

Two days prior to the gun ruling, the Supreme Court struck down a Maine law that prohibited the use of public funds for students to attend religious schools through a tuitioning program, a decision that will almost certainly affect Vermont’s education funding system. This is a disturbing precedent that should worry everyone who firmly supports the principles of quality public education for all children.

Finally, and most alarmingly, came the high court’s ruling Friday that reversed nearly half a century of precedent on abortion law, overturning Roe v. Wade, and virtually assuring that women’s educational opportunities, economic security and lives are at risk from this day forward. Recent extensive polling shows a public strongly in support of Roe v. Wade; the explosion of outrage and protest from both men and women across Vermont and the nation over the weekend backed up the numbers.

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Comments by Justice Clarence Thomas as part of that ruling that the Supreme Court “should reconsider” contraception and same-sex marriage are dark and chilling.

Who should fear this court?

People of color — all colors. Women — all women. The LGBTQ-plus community, and their friends and families. Anyone who values their privacy and ability to make their own decisions about contraception, personal relationships and health care. Anyone who doesn’t want the court or government to dictate those decisions from Washington, D.C.

Conservatives played a long game, ultimately electing a president who appointed Supreme Court justices to turn back time.

Now, it’s time for all of us to play the long game, and elect leaders at every level — from the local school board to the statehouse in Montpelier to the halls of Congress — who speak for us, vote for us, pass local and state laws that protect us, and appoint judges and justices who reflect us.

The public dialog in recent days, particularly after the Roe v. Wade decision, has been fueled by fear, helplessness and rage.

Now, it’s time to pull together for real action. Ask candidates where they stand on the issues you care about, and use the ballot box to make change. Take nothing for granted.

And vote now, not tomorrow. As we learned last week, tomorrow is too late.