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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – During a recent Supreme Court ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas referred to Roe v. Wade as one of many “incorrect decisions” in relation to the Fourteenth Amendment. Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision, imposed abortion on demand across the United States.
In the same context of “incorrect decisions,” Thomas also mentioned the 2015 ruling Obergefell v. Hodges, which guaranteed a “right” to homosexual “marriage.”
The final decision Thomas classified as “incorrect” was Dred Scott v. Sandford, according to which the Constitution of the United States was not meant to include American citizenship for black people. The 1857 ruling was directly overturned by the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868.
The Justice’s concurring opinion comes as part of a ruling concerning the rights of criminal defendants at trial, Ramos v. Louisiana, which was issued last Monday.
In the same ruling, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the nation’s highest court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, talked about “erroneous precedents.”
As LifeSiteNews reported, Kavanaugh elaborated on his thought process for when longstanding precedent should be left alone or overturned, using abortion precedent as his example.
“In [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey, the Court reaffirmed what it described as the ‘central holding’ of Roe v. Wade,” while at the same time “expressly reject[ing] Roe’s trimester framework,” Kavanaugh wrote. This, he continued, shows that the doctrine of stare decisis, or deference to precedent, “is not an ‘inexorable command.’”
At the same time, Kavanaugh argued that a mere “belief that the precedent was wrongly decided” would not be enough to justify overturning it.
Instead, he said, justices should make that decision based on criteria such as whether a precedent is “not just wrong, but grievously or egregiously wrong,” whether it “caused significant negative jurisprudential or real-world consequences” for both the legal system and the citizenry, and whether overturning it would “unduly upset” people’s reliance on it.
Last year, Justice Clarence Thomas, who has been on the Supreme Court since 1991, explained how the Supreme Court’s “abortion jurisprudence has spiraled out of control.”
“Earlier this Term, we were confronted with lower court decisions requiring States to allow abortions based solely on the race, sex, or disability of the child,” he wrote. “Today, we are confronted with decisions requiring States to allow abortion via live dismemberment. None of these decisions is supported by the text of the Constitution.”
“Although this case does not present the opportunity to address our demonstrably erroneous ‘undue burden’ standard, we cannot continue blinking the reality of what this court has wrought,” Thomas added.
On another occasion in 2019, Thomas argued that the Supreme Court’s “typical formulation of the stare decisis standard does not comport with our judicial duty under Article III because it elevates demonstrably erroneous decisions—meaning decisions outside the realm of permissible interpretation—over the text of the Constitution and other duly enacted federal law.”
He pointed out that the modern understanding of stare decisis exacerbates judges’ temptation to substitute their personal desires for the law “by giving the venire [!] of respectability to our continued application of demonstrably incorrect precedents.”
During the 2018 commencement address at Christendom College, a small Catholic school in Virginia, Thomas spoke about his faith. “This is a decidedly Catholic college, and I am decidedly and unapologetically Catholic,” he exclaimed.
“Even as I had the bad judgment of youth, something kept me from going too far and helped me to learn from those experiences,” Thomas said. “I spent 25 years of my life in the wilderness away from the Church, and yet, the clarion call of Sunday Church bells never went away. Something restrained me.”
“In those days of the 1960s and ’70s, this inner restraint was called a ‘hangup’ or an ‘inhibition,’” the Supreme Court Justice explained. “In fact, it was a conscience.”