During the final days of June, Supreme Court rulings rolled out, each alarming in their own way.
In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, the Court restricted states’ authority to regulate concealed-carry weapons in public places. In West Virginia v. EPA, the Court handed a win to fossil fuel companies by curtailing the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions.
Most brazenly, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Court overturned Roe v. Wade, stripping Americans of their fundamental right to reproductive liberty. As of July 1, eight states had moved to outlaw abortion – putting the lives of millions of American women at risk.
Each ruling broke along partisan lines, with the six Republican-appointed justices voting in lockstep. Thanks to the shameless political maneuvering of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, conservatives hold a decisive 6-3 majority. If any doubt remained, these rulings confirmed that our nation’s highest court has become a partisan body.
The truth is, we don’t know how far these radical justices will go. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion in Dobbs that the Court “should reconsider” its rulings on other right-to-privacy cases. The cases include Lawrence v. Texas and Griswold v. Connecticut – rulings concerning individuals’ private sexual activity and access to contraceptives – and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 ruling providing a right to same-sex marriage.
These landmark right-to-privacy precedents are now in the Court’s crosshairs. From Roe to Obergefell, Congress must work to swiftly codify fundamental rights that we thought were settled law.
Congress’ work cannot stop with fundamental rights. Congress also has to counteract this radical Court by urgently passing common-sense gun safety laws and strengthening and clarifying the regulatory authority of the EPA to address climate change.
The conservative legal movement is well-organized, patient, and unrelenting. It has grown adept at using the courts as a mechanism to advance conservative policy that is deeply unpopular with the American people.
We must push back. The majority of Americans agree on fundamental rights, on the danger of climate change, and the unacceptable threat of gun violence in our communities. We cannot surrender American law to a radical Supreme Court.
In Congress, we need trained lawyers ready and equipped to take action to unwind these recent destructive rulings – and to inoculate our legal system against future conservative attacks.
After graduating from Vermont Law School, where I focused on human rights and civil liberties, I clerked for the late Judge Peter Hall on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. I reviewed federal appeals, drafted opinions, and saw firsthand how federal cases are won and lost in the details.
I know what happens when Congress gets it wrong and the courts are left to decide. With fundamental rights on the line, I know that details matter and Congress must act.
Before serving as Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor, I served statewide as an Assistant Attorney General in the criminal division, working to ensure access to justice for all Vermonters. I know trust in government depends on our ability to uphold and protect the Constitution.
Having worked overseas and as an international human rights lawyer by training, I know the world is watching. Our ability to promote human rights abroad depends on our ability to protect them at home.
This is a make-or-break moment in history. I’ve spent my career working to promote and protect fundamental rights; in Congress, I’ll bring the full force of my legal training to bear. I’ll work tirelessly, day in and day out, to counteract this radical and corrosive Supreme Court.
The work ahead will be difficult – but it must be done. Our fundamental rights depend on it.