The decision made by the United States Supreme Court to retract the 50-year precedent from the original Supreme Court ruling back in 1973 in a seven-to-two decision, has caused a national movement. Our judicial system has decided that the government has a right to one’s body and can regulate it how society sees fit. The current Supreme Court justices have not been in the same place as the majority of people in this country, especially those in marginalized and poor communities that they are casting judgment upon.
The 9th Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” which guarantees the right to privacy.
I believe the United States political systems have failed us. Republicans argued that abortion is wrong since it is taking a life. Democrats needed to fill a gap in our political system by creating a platform for those that are pro-choice, using abortion as a political campaign tool to fundraise over $7 million after the leak of the Supreme Court’s plans to rescind Roe v. Wade, and having a senator from the Democratic Party voting against codifying Roe v. Wade into law. However, the question is, do we the people not have the right to privacy, to make our own decisions, to have free will? The Supreme Court does not reflect the population or the demographics of the United States. The current make-up of three women and six men is not representative of our population that is 51% women and 49% men. It took 246 years for our highest judicial court to have an African American woman as a justice. The political process that has been established by tradition and precedent is no longer working.
The impact that this decision has on child welfare has broadened. There are many other rulings that preceded Roe v. Wade that could also be overturned. One of these is Meyer v. Nebraska in 1923, which allows teaching children another language. If this ruling was overturned, then Native American foster youth who wish to teach their child another language or their Native language could no longer do so. History has demonstrated how this country and its institutions have oppressed those that do not fit the description this country put on the population.
Another example includes if the Supreme Court strikes down the 1965 ruling of Griswold v. Connecticut, the government would be able to intervene in marital privacy. For married foster youth, if one person in the relationship does not wish or feel prepared to have a child, they can take birth control. But if Griswold is overturned, the government could intervene in that youth’s decision.
And finally, Skinner v. Oklahoma in 1942 ruled that the government can not sterilize convicted criminals. With many youth in foster care, if that was overturned, many youth would not have a say.
These are just some of the examples of rights that might be stripped from youth in foster care if the Supreme Court strikes down any of these other rulings.
System-impacted youth have been targeted by these institutions and have been directly impacted by the decisions and interpretations of the law by our judicial system. Even after we have left these systems, they target us. It is crucial that we understand that laws can be changed and corrected. The way we implemented them is another part of the process that we need to ensure are part of the decision making process. We must understand that to create change, we must elect and hold our officials accountable for their decisions to create and correct the law.
In 2020, there were about 407,493 youth in foster care. In California, we have over 60,000 foster youth. We have an influence and a voting block that can be used to ensure that policies are implemented in the right way that would not negatively impact us. If we wish to continue to live in a society with the rights to privacy and the freedoms that we have enjoyed, we must unite and start having these public officials listen to us, work for us, and be accountable for the service we are paying them to do, representing us.
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