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Dear campus community,

Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision in the case of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision.

The Supreme Court majority stated that “the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

This means that the Court has determined that abortion decisions are up to the states, or at the federal level, Congress, to decide. Though the potential short and long-term outcomes of this are challenging and unclear, one thing is very certain: reactions and emotions around this are wide-ranging, impassioned, and polarizing, including within our own Gallaudet community.

I see the impact of this ruling on our own community, our students, and so many diverse women, people and families throughout the nation. It is deeply troubling that the Supreme Court has upset 50 years of “settled law” affecting a woman’s right to determine her own personal health care and care of her body and life. And, it raises more complex questions related to religious liberties under the First Amendment.

As concerning and, perhaps more troubling, is the possibility that other substantive due process precedents may be threatened in the future,

including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell — three cases that are centered on Americans’ fundamental privacy, due process, and equal protection rights — which can affect our rights to contraception,
same-sex marriage, and other rights that have been derived from our constitution and its amendments.

The Dobbs decision sends an arrow into the hearts of many.

What is the future of the legitimacy of diverse LGBTQ marriages and families? What is the future legitimacy of laws like Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act, “because the Constitution makes no express reference to” disability rights or gay marriage, not unlike the underpinnings of Roe v. Wade, which has now been struck down?

I want to acknowledge the deep impact this decision has on all of us.

As a human being, as a leader,
I am committed to working with and respecting the views of those whose opinions differ from mine.

I believe in democracy, the rule of law, and the First Amendment. I believe in the importance of our public sphere and public squares (including social media) to engage in debates about issues central to our lives.

I believe in non-violent political action that leads to positive action to improve the collective well-being of our communities and nation.

As our nation and our community work through this historic Court decision and the deep impact it will have, I encourage all of us to uphold the core principles and values of democracy, including engaging in peaceful political action, and honoring and respecting all voices and all points of view even when they are most vehemently opposed to our own.

Most importantly, let us work to be there to support one another as this decision continues to unfold in the coming days and weeks.

Our democracy, our nation, and our trust in the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments depend on it.

In the spirit of our collective community.

Roberta J. Cordano
President

Resources for our Community:

We encourage those who need a place to discuss this further to reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) by emailing caps@gallaudet.edu. Employees may also contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

If you want to learn about civic engagement, dialogue and debate, engage with the Center for Democracy in Deaf America (CDDA).

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