In Aspen, Hillary Clinton blasts overturning of Roe v. Wade

Former first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton, right, sitting next to journalist and moderator Yamiche Alcindor, talks during a tribute to Madeleine K. Albright as part of the Aspen Ideas Festival on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, inside the Greenwald Pavilion in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton called last week’s overturning of Roe v. Wade “the most arrogant misreading of history in law that you could ever find” and a decision that reflects a country encountering “massive pushback rolling the clock back on our civil rights, our human rights.”

The former secretary of state and first lady singled out Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who signed Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization striking down Roe v. Wade, for his solo opinion concurring with the decision. Thomas agreed with Alito’s remarks that overturning Roe v. Wade would not threaten “precedents that do not concern abortion.” Thomas also argued in his concurrence, however, that other court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage and contraception based on the same legal reasoning employed in Roe v. Wade — under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment —  could come under the high court’s purview.

“I would just add that anybody not taking Clarence Thomas seriously has not been paying attention to Clarence Thomas,” she said, “He is signaling exactly what he intends to signal to judges at the lower level in the federal system, judges in the state systems, legislators, attorneys generals — ‘Hey, start figuring out how to get some cases …”

Katie Albright, right, the daughter of former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, is hugged by Hillary Clinton, left, who also was a former secretary of state, during an Aspen Ideas Festival discussion dedicated to Madeleine Albright on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, inside the Greenwald Pavilion in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Clinton’s comments came during the Aspen Ideas Festival’s tribute to Secretary Madeleine Albright, a mainstay at the Aspen Institute who died in March. Joining Clinton was Stephen J. Hadley, who was national security advisor under President George W. Bush during his second term from 2005 to 2009. NBC News Washington correspondent Yamiche Alcindor conducted the interview.

“Before the overturning of the Roe decision,” Clinton said, “there has been and we have been seeing it building, a real pushback against women’s advancement and progress in many places of the world. The pandemic made it even worse, … so you know Madeleine was acutely aware of that as the tide shifts more toward authoritarianism. …. Very often the first targets promoting that kind of demagogery were women’s rights.”

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In a nod to Albright, the first woman secretary of state (1997 to 2001), Clinton said her predecessor would not have wallowed over the decision while understanding its impacts.

“I can almost hear her saying, ‘No whining on the yacht,’” said Clinton, noting Albright understood well the forces at play in the Roe v. Wade debate and the consequences of its being overturned.

Clinton added: “I think Madeleine would be as worried as I am about the impact of the decision on real women and families’ lives, but also what it says about how our country is retreating from trying to figure out how we have a big, inclusive, pluralistic democracy.”

The Ideas Festival continues through Sunday.

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