'This is not over': Harris warns Supreme Court may target gay marriage, contraception next

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris warned Monday that other established rights such as same-sex marriage and access to contraception could come under assault from the Supreme Court next following the high court's decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"I definitely believe this is not over," Harris said in an interview on CNN, responding to a concurring opinion by conservative Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the court should "reconsider" other "demonstrably erroneous decisions" involving the due process clause.

"I think he just said the quiet part out loud," Harris said. "And I think that is why we all must really understand the significance of what just happened. This is profound."

Thomas singled out Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court opinion that invalidated a law that forbid contraception based on a right to privacy; the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case that legalized same-sex marriage nationally; and the 2013 Lawrence v. Texas ruling that invalidated state prohibitions on sodomy.

More: Five crucial sections in the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

The latest:

  • Harris, speaking to CNN's Dana Bash, was giving her first interview in the wake of a watershed Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that held Americans no longer have a constitutional right to abortion.

  • Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws that will go into effect banning abortion in nearly all instances and only sometimes offering exceptions for rape and incest. Other states in the South and Midwest are also looking at curbing abortion rights.

  • As the nation's first female vice president, Harris has become Democrats' top voice on abortion rights as they look to make it an issue in the November midterm elections.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials 39th Annual Conference at Swissôtel Chicago in downtown Chicago, Friday, June 24, 2022.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials 39th Annual Conference at Swissôtel Chicago in downtown Chicago, Friday, June 24, 2022.

'I never believed them': Other key parts from Harris' interview: 

  • Harris said she was "shocked" when she learned of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe. Ironically, the vice president was on Air Force Two on the way to discuss maternal health when the news broke. "It's one thing when you know something's going to happen. It's another thing when it actually happens," Harris said. " I couldn't believe it because they actually did it."

  • Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have accused Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch of misleading them during confirmation hearings by assuring  the senators they believed Roe was settled law. "I never believed them," Harris, who was a senator at the time, said of the justices. "That’s why I voted against them.”

  • Harris said the court "took a constitutional right that has been recognized for a half-century and took it from the women of America." Harris referenced the 23-year-old daughter of second gentleman Doug Emhoff, adding she "will not know the rights" of her mother-in-law who is in her 80s.

  • Harris expressed dismay that some states could ban abortions even in the case of rape and incest: "The idea that after a woman has endured such violence to her body, that she would not have the freedom and authority to decide whether she wanted to continue with a pregnancy that is a result off an act of violence, is absolutely unthinkable."

  • Harris said the White House will do "everything within our power" to ensure women have access to medication they need, echoing what President Joe Biden has said. Harris said that includes that women have "freedom of travel" to other states to seek an abortion and helping women who lack the financial resources for travel.

  • Harris said the administration is not currently having discussions about seeking to offer abortions on federal land in states that have banned abortions.

More: Abortion rights activists look to VP Kamala Harris for help in midterm election fight

Why it matters

Harris's remarks serve as a warning for Democrats that other rights, not just abortion rights, are on the ballot this November.

Biden and Democrats have urged pro-abortion rights voters upset about last week's Supreme Court decision to elect more senators and members of Congress who will vote to codify a constitutional right to abortion. The push comes as Democrats face strong headwinds to hold on to power of Congress during the November elections amid rising inflation.

Right now, Democrats simply lack the votes to codify Roe. The Senate voted down doing so 49-51 in May.

Harris' message: The stakes are much bigger than even Roe.

More: Clarence Thomas calls for Supreme Court to 'reconsider' gay marriage, contraception after Roe v. Wade falls

Want to know more? Here's what you missed

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Harris warns Supreme Court could go after gay marriage, contraception