Senate

Warren ‘deeply concerned’ about Thomas’s willingness to overturn other court precedents

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Sunday raised alarm bells about a concurring opinion from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in Friday’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade indicating he is open to reconsidering court precedents guaranteeing rights to contraception and same-sex marriage.

“I am deeply concerned about that,” Warren told ABC “This Week” anchor Martha Raddatz. “I understand that the rest of the court said, ‘No, no, we’re not going there.’ But remember how we got to where we are.”

Thomas joined the majority opinion overturning Roe with four of the other justices. But in a separate concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, Thomas argued that the court should consider overturning other precedents based on the same substantive due process argument, such as rights to contraception, same-sex marriage and consensual gay sex.

Warren on Sunday pointed to long-term efforts by Republicans to appoint conservative justices to shift the court to the right, which she said became the party’s strategy to overturn Roe after it became clear it couldn’t do so through legislation because it didn’t have “national support.” 

“Instead, it was about getting extremist judges into the United States Supreme Court,” she said.

Warren during the interview also advocated for expanding the court.

“This court has lost legitimacy,” she said. “They have burned whatever legitimacy they may still have had after their gun decision, after their voting decision, after their union decision. They just took the last of it and set a torch to it with the Roe v. Wade opinion.”

As many states quickly banned abortion following Friday’s ruling, Warren wrote an op-ed with Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) published in The New York Times on Saturday arguing that President Biden should protect abortion access by declaring a public health emergency and taking executive action. 

Warren on Sunday said Biden should move to enable abortions on federal lands and protect medication abortion.

The senators in the op-ed also argued for reforming the filibuster, the 60-vote threshold required to pass most legislation in the upper chamber, to codify Roe into federal law.

But dropping the filibuster is likely to fall flat-footed due to opposition from moderate Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Warren on Sunday did not mention her colleagues by name but said Democrats need to add two more senators to their caucus in November’s midterm elections to push that proposal forward.

“John Fetterman, I’m looking at you in Pennsylvania,” she said. “Mandela Barnes, I’m looking at you in Wisconsin. We bring them in, then we’ve got the votes, and we can protect every woman, no matter where she lives.”

Tags abortion Clarence Thomas Clarence Thomas court expansion Elizabeth Warren Elizabeth Warren Filibuster Kyrsten Sinema Martha Raddatz Roe v. Wade Tina Smith

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