Jim Obergefell is afraid.
When he saw the news on Friday of the historic Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, Obergefell instantly felt horrible for women across the nation. But when he read Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion that threatened to undo marriage equality, he felt scared for himself.
“I would honestly be lying if I said I weren’t afraid that it could all go away,” Obergefell said of the LGBTQ civil rights he helped ensure thanks to his role as lead plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.
“It made me angry, and it has me terrified. It has me concerned,” Obergefell told BuzzFeed News.
In their searing dissent in Friday’s abortion case, the three liberal justices warned that, in addition to vaporizing federal abortion rights, the top US court was also threatening the future of things like the right to contraception, same-sex relations, and marriage equality.
“No one should be confident that this majority is done with its work,” the liberals wrote.
Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito accused the liberal justices of using their dissent to potentially “stoke unfounded fear” that the ruling would imperil these other rights, arguing they were different because they did not concern “potential life.”
“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 not everyone in the majority seemed to agree.
In his separate opinion concurring with the majority that there was no constitutional right to abortion, Thomas said the court should reconsider all the cases that previously established those rights.
In a passage blasting jurisprudence around the 14th Amendment, Thomas said abortion was not a form of “liberty” protected under the due process clause.
He then expressly named the cases that guaranteed the rights to contraception, same-sex relations, and marriage equality — Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), Lawrence v. Texas (2003), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), respectively — as being appropriate for the court to “reconsider” given they relied on similar reasoning.
“We have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” Thomas wrote.
(Observers noted that Thomas, a Black man who is married to a white woman, did not say the court should reconsider Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case that also relied on the 14th Amendment to guarantee interracial marriage rights.)