This excerpt is from a piece that originally ran on April 3, 2023.
It has been roughly one year since two seismic events in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court: Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (“KBJ”) became the first Black woman confirmed to be a justice on the Supreme Court and, just a few weeks later, Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked opinion revealed to the nation the Trump Court’s plan to eliminate a constitutional right to abortion.
Because of the Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a disproportionate number of Black women would soon be forced, without recourse, to carry pregnancies to term against their will — in many cases, by the very same states that fought a war to defend their right to hold KBJ’s ancestors in bondage. To many of us, the expression “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” never rang truer.
But, that staggering contrast also presented a choice to this nation: Do we want to follow Alito’s lead and bind our government to the past, prohibiting new understandings from ever taking hold? Or do we want to embrace Jackson’s vision of a Constitution that recognizes all of the people, including those who were not given the right to self-determine? These two events force us to reckon with which vision for the Constitution we want to embrace.