LOS ANGELES – Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) issued the following statement in response to today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that established the constitutional right to reproductive choice that has been in place for nearly 50 years:
“This is the day the unprincipled arch-conservative majority of the Supreme Court dealt a severe and self-inflicted blow to the Court’s institutional integrity, to the Court’s political neutrality, and to respect for the rule of law in our country.
“Of course, the immediate practical implications of today’s shoddy, outcome-driven decision will be devastating, particularly for Latina women, who represent the nation’s largest racial minority group. The Latino community also comprises 40 percent of the nation’s second most populous state, Texas, a state currently intent on denying abortion and denying the equality that is an essential aspect of reproductive choice.
“The longer-term effects of the Court’s abandonment of principle and institutional integrity are unknown, but certainly of a type and impact that should be of central concern to all law-driven organizations, including MALDEF.
“The majority dealt this enduring damage in multiple ways, including the following:
“First, the Court majority rendered a decision that chooses sides on an issue of extreme partisan division, and the Court did so in a manner seemingly designed to have the greatest partisan effect. Further today’s decision stems directly from disgraced former president Donald Trump’s stealing of two nominations to the Supreme Court through the illegitimate and partisan application of different and utterly inconsistent rules to the passings of Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Second, the Court majority cavalierly overturned a long-standing precedent to eliminate an important individual human right. The doctrine of stare decisis cannot and should not protect a past improper denial of human rights; this was what was behind the unquestionably appropriate overturning of Plessy v. Ferguson by Brown v. Board of Education. Today’s decision does the opposite by eliminating a long-established individual human right; doing so betrays near-total disrespect for basic principles of legal equity, such as reliance and basic equality.
“Third, the Court majority continued to fetishize, in its constitutional analysis, long-ago history extending back to the framers, without any regard to the fact that one of the most egregious flaws in that history was the consistent and near-total disregard for the rights of women in society. Where such a pervasive flaw applies, jurisprudence must depart from complete fealty to the dead hand of original intent.
“Finally, through its cursory analysis of certain arguments accepted and certain arguments rejected, the Court majority rushed to eliminate a longstanding individual human right without any regard to the immediate practical effects of what it was doing, including failing to recognize that those effects would be felt most dearly by the communities with least power in American society.
“As an organization led by women throughout the majority of its existence, MALDEF will always have gender equality as a core principle. As such, MALDEF commits to the hard work necessary, together with so many others, to restore some of the integrity of our legal system torn away by today’s decision.
“We also recognize the threat to all presented by this term’s Court decisions. And we understand that one immediate response to today’s decision lies in the November elections.
“Vote like your rights depend on it, because they do.”