House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday sent a seething letter to her Democratic colleagues railing against the “extremist” U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion decision and vowing to revive failed legislation that would create federal protections for abortion.
In a dear colleague letter dated Jun. 27, Pelosi outlined several abortion bills House Democrats will take up before the upcoming elections in November. Among them is another version of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would create a federal right to abortion and drastically roll back state abortion restrictions — restrictions that are now legal since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a landmark decision on Friday.
Legislation to codify Roe has passed the House before but failed to win enough support in the Senate to overcome a filibuster by pro-life Republicans. It has virtually no chance of passing under the current makeup of Congress.
Two other bills House Democrats will advance include legislation protecting the right to travel out of state for an abortion and a privacy bill that would prevent prosecutors in pro-life states from accessing data stored in reproductive health apps to enforce abortion restrictions.
In her letter, Pelosi blasted the “extremist Supreme Court” and accused the court of attempting to “punish and control the American people.”
“Democrats must continue our fight to expand freedom in America. Doing so is foundational to our oath of office and our fidelity to the Constitution,” Pelosi said.
Her letter singled out Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which Thomas wrote that the Supreme Court should go farther than overturning Roe and “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” Those are several highly controversial cases dealing with contraception, sodomy laws, and gay marriage, respectively.
“Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’ […] we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” Thomas wrote.
Pelosi called Thomas’ opinion “disturbing” and promised federal legislation to codify the rights to contraception, homosexual sex, and gay marriage.
“Justice Clarence Thomas confirmed many of our deepest fears about where this decision may lead: taking aim at additional long-standing precedent and cherished privacy rights, from access to contraception and in-vitro fertilization to marriage equality,” she wrote. “Legislation is being introduced to further codify freedoms which Americans currently enjoy. More information to follow.”
Thomas’ opinion was not shared by the other justices in the majority. In the opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court explicitly rejected the proposition that Dobbs should be used to question the court’s rulings on issues not related to abortion.
“And to ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right,” Alito wrote. “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”
But Pelosi’s letter does not address the substance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs. The final paragraph reveals that Pelosi’s outrage is directed at motivating voters to the polls in November to protect Democratic majorities in Congress.
“It is clear from how Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell stacked the Supreme Court that elections have ramifications,” Pelosi wrote. “It is essential that we protect and expand our pro-choice Majorities in the House and Senate in November so that we can eliminate the filibuster so that we can restore women’s fundamental rights – and freedom for every American.”