The leaked draft opinion by the United States Supreme Court addressing the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade shocked supporters of reproductive health care last week. But another issue has emerged, leading to the possible loss of other rights for millions of Americans.
Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito argued the point that states need to decide whether abortion is legal. Alito writes, “For the first 185 years after the adoption of the Constitution, each State was permitted to address this issue in accordance with the views of its citizens.”
Justice Alito’s judicial philosophy is from an “originalist” perspective, meaning he and other conservative justices on the court attempt to read, interpret and apply the Constitution as the Founders intended.
Since the country was established as a democratic republic, a tension has persisted between federal oversight and states’ rights. Alito, and the other originalists on the court, seem determined to return the country to a time when less populated states could hold the entire country hostage based on their regional majorities.
For example, what will happen regarding the following issues when these states reject judicial precedent or federal action: marriage equality, interracial marriage, contraception, civil rights, voter’s rights, parental leave, universal health care, equal rights for women and others?
What if a state decides to outlaw Muslim schools? What if a state concludes contraceptive measures thwart natural laws and try to restrict reproductive health care? What if states claim without documented evidence that election fraud runs rampant in their states and enact laws making it more difficult to vote?
So, what are people of good faith to do?
- Stay educated.
Credible information is an ally. Instead of taking the word of talking heads (which includes me), conduct research from credible sources to help form an educated opinion.
Once you discover the facts and read the views of experts, then search your faith tradition’s sacred texts. For Christians, reading the prophets and the Gospels is especially helpful as you develop an ethical framework of justice to apply to the many issues we face.
Paul said it best when he wrote, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
- Stay empowered.
With education at our fingertips, we must use that information to remain empowered. The current religious and political climate can be extremely discouraging, but through education, we possess the tools to stay inspired and motivated.
Empowerment is not the practice of exerting power over others but utilizing truth, justice and love to be emboldened for a cause. Using that empowerment for inclusivity, freedom and justice means setting privilege aside to advocate for the common good.
In Luke 9:1, Jesus empowered the disciples in order to bring physical and spiritual healing (justice) to the world: “When Jesus had called the twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases.”
- Stay engaged.
With education and empowerment instilled within the faithful, we need to remain engaged. Again, the situation can be discouraging, but the current moment is too critical to disengage.
People of good faith need to stand up, speak out and step out. Bending the arc of history towards justice takes sacrifice and sweat. And from where I stand, people of good faith are ready and willing.
We must recall the words of Jesus when he warned his disciples to remain at the ready: “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:33). The time has come for good people to act.
The leaked draft of the SCOTUS opinion can set the country on a backward trajectory by allowing certain states the authority to marginalize and oppress the rights of other citizens. We cannot afford to let this happen.
We must turn out to express our convictions and vote our conscience. We have come too far as a country in advancing the rights of all citizens to give them away now. We must march towards a hopeful future where all people celebrate inclusion, freedom and justice.
CEO of Good Faith Media.