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Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey was one of the lead sponsors of the bill that established Juneteenth as a federal holiday. President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law on June 17, 2021, officially making June 19th a federal holiday.

“Back in 2020, right after George Floyd was murdered, I began a process to introduce legislation in the Senate to create Juneteenth as a holiday. And that holiday was something where I knew it had to be bipartisan,” Markey stated on Boston Public Radio on Tuesday.

His efforts were supported and inspired by many others, including the Black Caucus, and Opal Lee, “Grandmother of Juneteenth”.

Markey recounted the collaborative effort, saying, “We met and resolved that we were going to work to get it passed. And one year later, the job had been completed…now our job is to make sure that we fulfill that promise of full freedom, full opportunity for all African-Americans in our country.”

Markey also touched on recent Supreme Court decisions and their implications for civil rights.

One significant decision was the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, whereJustice Clarence Thomas suggested going after other precedents such as the right to contraception and same-sex marriage.

Markey introduced a Right to Contraception Act shortly after the Dobbs v. Jackson decision.

“We would codify Griswold, codify the right to access to contraception in our country, knowing that a Supreme Court with a House, Senate and President Trump, that’s all Republican, would be coming for all of these other protections as well.”

He noted that when his bill came up on the Senate floor two weeks ago, only two Republicans voted to protect the right to contraception. He also pointed out a pattern, saying that Republicans also voted no on measures related to abortion, contraception, and access to IVF.

“It’s pretty clear that these Republicans are not going to give us the legislative protection which we need, which then makes all of it vulnerable to a right wing.”

Markey criticized the Supreme Court’s transparency in its conservative agenda, stating, “The beauty of this new Supreme Court is that they don’t hide it anymore. They just put it right out there.”

He called for accountability, saying, “Obviously Thomas should resign. Alito should resign. At a minimum, they should be recusing themselves from these decisions. But it’s unrealistic to expect them to do so.”