Molly Gray: American law is in crisis | Opinion


In the last days of June, Supreme Court decisions were handed down, each alarming in its own way.

In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, the Court restricted the power of states to regulate concealed carry weapons in public places. In West Virginia v. EPA, the Court ruled in favor of the fossil fuel companies by limiting the power of the EPA to regulate carbon emissions.

More brazenly, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Court reversed Roe v. Wade, depriving Americans of their fundamental right to reproductive freedom. As of July 1, eight states had decided to ban abortion, endangering the lives of millions of American women.

Each decision broke with partisan lines, with all six Republican-appointed justices voting in lockstep. Thanks to the brazen political maneuverings of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, the Conservatives hold a decisive 6-3 majority. If there was any doubt, these decisions confirmed that our nation’s highest court has become a partisan body.

The truth is, we don’t know how far these radical judges will go. Judge Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion in Dobbs that the Court “should reconsider” its rulings on other privacy cases. Cases include Lawrence v. Texas and Griswold v. Connecticut – decisions regarding individuals’ private sexual activity and access to contraceptives – and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision granting same-sex marriage rights.

These historical precedents in terms of the right to privacy are now in the crosshairs of the Court. From Roe to Obergefell, Congress must work to quickly codify basic rights that we thought were settled law.

The work of the Congress cannot stop at fundamental rights. Congress must also counter this radical Court by urgently passing common sense gun safety laws and strengthening and clarifying the EPA’s regulatory authority to fight climate change.

The conservative legal movement is well organized, patient and relentless. He became adept at using the courts as a mechanism to advance a conservative policy deeply unpopular with the American people.

We have to push back. The majority of Americans agree on basic rights, the danger of climate change, and the unacceptable threat of gun violence in our communities. We cannot abandon American law to a radical Supreme Court.

In Congress, we need lawyers trained, ready, and equipped to take action to reverse 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’ve reviewed federal appeals, written opinions, and seen with my own eyes how federal cases are won and lost in detail.

I know what happens when Congress gets it wrong and the courts have to decide. With fundamental rights at stake, I know the details matter and Congress must act.

Prior to serving as Lieutenant Governor of Vermont, I served statewide as an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division, working to ensure access to justice for all Vermonters. I know that confidence in government depends on our ability to uphold and protect the Constitution.

Having worked overseas and as a trained international human rights lawyer, 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 defining moment in history. I have spent my career working to promote and protect fundamental rights; in Congress, I will use the full force of my legal training. I will work tirelessly, day in and day out, to counter this radical and corrosive Supreme Court.

The work ahead will be difficult, but it must be done. Our fundamental rights depend on it.

Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray is a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate for Vermont. Opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of Vermont News & Media.


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