Hillary Clinton hits out at ‘self-righteous’ Alito and warns many rights are ‘at risk’ with Roe v Wade ruling

‘The level of insidious rulemaking to further oppress women almost knows no end’

Rachel Sharp
Sunday 19 June 2022 18:19 BST
New York expands abortion protections ahead of Roe ruling, Governor Hochul announces
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Hillary Clinton has hit out at Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and warned that many rights are “at risk” if Roe v Wade is overturned.

The former Secretary of State spoke out about the impending threat to abortion rights in America in an interview with the Financial Times, as the nation’s highest court is on the cusp of striking down the landmark ruling.

“The level of insidious rulemaking to further oppress women almost knows no end,” she said.

Ms Clinton blasted Justice Alito, who authored the Supreme Court’s leaked draft majority opinion overturning Roe, as “one of those self-righteous types” who has long railed against “lettting women into the eating clubs”.

“I found Alito was the kind of young man who when he was at Princeton railed against coeducation, railed against letting women into the eating clubs, and that was all in the background that I read,” she said.

“He honestly struck me as one of those very self-righteous types seeking to remake society.”

Ms Clinton, who lost the 2016 White House race to Donald Trump, was a New York senator during Justice Alito’s 2006 confirmation hearings.

She voted against his confirmation but he was appointed to the bench anyway by a vote of 58 to 42, going on to become one of its most conservative justices.

Ms Clinton described The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood as a “prophet” of the situation now playing out in America as the efforts to “oppress” women “knows no end”.

“You look at this and how could you not but think that Margaret Atwood was a prophet?” she asked.

“She’s not just a brilliant writer, she was a prophet.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking in New York in 2022

Without abortion being protected as a constitutional right, Ms Clinton warned that some states will ban abortion even in the case of rape and incest, prosecute women who travel to states where it is legal for the procedure and that one state — “and this is hard even to speak about” – would only allow abortion for rape victims if they get consent from their rapist.

Beyond the threat to abortion access itself, she also warned that other rights are also at risk in the ruling.

“If you go down the rabbit hole of far right intellectuals, you see that birth control, gay marriage — all of it is at risk,” she said.

Many fear that the overturning of Roe could spell the beginning of the end for other rights including same-sex marriage, civil rights and access to birth control.

Roe was based on the 14th Amendment right to privacy – a constitutional right that appears to have been dismantled in Justice Alito’s draft opinion.

On 2 May, Politico released a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court which revealed that the nation’s highest court had decided to strike down Roe.

It revealed that Justice Alito and four other conservative justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – had voted to overturn the ruling.

Pro-choice demonstrators outside the house of US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia, on 9 May 2022

Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented while it is unclear how Chief Justice John Roberts planned to vote.

In the opinion, the majority said that the ruling had been wrongly decided in the past and that decisions around abortion access should be decided by politicians, not by the courts.

Justice Alito writes that the right to abortion is not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and was “entirely unknown in American law ... until the latter part of the 20th century” – something that also applies to LGBT+ rights which were established in the country even later than abortion rights.

However, he writes that the same reasoning would not apply to other rulings around “intimate sexual relations, contraception and marriage” because abortion rights are “fundamentally different” in that it “destroys” life.

The final ruling could come as soon as Tuesday as it is expected by the end of June before the summer recess.

If the final draft is released as it stands it will backpedal on abortion rights and access to reproductive health for millions of women across America.

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