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“MSNBC Reports” host Andrea Mitchell asked former Attorney General under President Obama Eric Holder Thursday whether the Supreme Court gutting Roe v Wade means that the court could also go back and dismantle Brown v Board of Education, the ruling that ended segregation in American public schools.
“How unprecedented, first of all, is the leak?” Mitchell prompted. “And the way they came down in terms of breaking precedent, ignoring stare decisis and deciding to completely overrule Roe v. Wade after 49 years.”
Holder acknowledged that the leak itself was “unprecedented.” He commented that the fact that Americans have “never actually seen a draft opinion” is “serious” and “something that needs to be addressed.”
Though according to the former attorney general, the content of the leak was the most important aspect of the controversy.
“But what we really need to focus on is what’s contained in that leaked opinion,” he said.
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He continued, saying, “Looks like they’re going to overturn Roe v. Wade, inconsistent with the notion that you would adhere to precedent that people have relied on over the last 50 years. It’s an attack on the right to privacy.”
Holder then worried aloud about other rulings being at risk because of this tossing of precedent.
“And so, the question has to be asked, is it only abortion that is going to be at risk or is same-sex marriage going to be at risk?” he asked. “The regulation of contraception, is that going to be at risk? Even interracial marriage. All of these are based on the right to privacy.”
He added that the leaked draft opinion “really goes at that – that right to privacy.”
Mitchell later asked him whether rulings made during the civil rights era could be overturned.
“And if they care so little about precedent and overruling precedent, what about Brown v. Board of Education? What about other major civil rights rulings of the 50s and 60s?, she asked.
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Holder softly hinted that that thought might be too paranoid but gave it some earnest consideration and rationalized that there could be some concern for overturning the 1954 Supreme Court decision.
“That’s a question that you might have said, ‘Well, you’re going too far Andrea’ and yet you think about those Trump judges who when they were questioned about is Brown v. The Board of Education a super-precedent or something you would not re-examine, they waffled on that,” Holder claimed.
“That always kind of struck me,” Holder added. “How could you waffle on Brown v the Board of Education? And yet they did.”
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“Now, I’m not saying they’re going to re-institute Plessy v. Ferguson and we’re going to have a whole system of racial apartheid again,” he clarified. “But I think that shows a mindset that they are not going to adhere to the extent that they should to precedent.”