The United States Supreme Court appears prepared to dramatically weaken decades worth of precedent protecting abortion rights.
The High Court heard arguments Wednesday regarding a restrictive Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks. Lynn Fitch, Mississippi Attorney-General, was the first to file its briefs earlier this year. It was a direct challenge Roe v. WadeA Supreme Court ruling almost 50 years ago that recognized the rights to abortion access in all U.S. states.
The Court’s conservative majority spent much of their time on Wednesday discussing whether to take a narrow view of the case — that is, deciding whether the 15-week abortion ban was constitutional — or to take a broader consideration by exploring whether Roe Should be completely upended.
Chief Justice of the Court John Roberts opined that upholding the 15-week ban would not be a “dramatic departure” from the stipulations in RoeJustice Brett Kavanaugh called for the case to remain focused on the ban. Meanwhile, Justice Brett Kavanaugh signaled that he might vote to dismantle the decades-old decision, arguing that the Court should leave the issue to states — a scenario which could leave millions of Americans unable to access a routine medical procedure that has the potential to be life-saving.
Justice Samuel Alito, one the Court’s most conservative justices, said “the only real options” for him and his colleagues to considerThe decision to affirm or overrule was the key. RoeWhich? he firmly believes should be overturned.
While these considerations were taking effect, U.S. The U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar spoke on behalf of the federal government for keeping RoePlace warning that the Supreme Court has never revoked a constitutional right it had previously extended. All three justices from the liberal bloc voiced their opposition against undoing or weakening RoeJustice Sotomayor stated that it would damage the reputation and integrity the Court.
“Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” Sotomayor asked. “I don’t see how it is possible.”
You can’t do it again Roe This would have a devastating affect on reproductive rights in the United States and abortion access, putting people at risk who are seeking abortions in the country. If Roe were undone, analysts have concluded, it’s likely that 22 states would either ban abortions completelyOr impose dangerously restrictive limitations on the procedure.
Social media users vented their anger at Court. Many pointed out that Democrats in Congress need to act immediately to protect reproductive rights.
“Democrats could pass national legislation to protect abortion rights,” said journalist Judd Legum, “but will not because several Senators don’t want to make an exception to the filibuster so they will let Supreme Court justices (who were only confirmed via an exception to the filibuster) gut abortion rights.”
Washington Post Jennifer Rubin, an opinion writer, stated that if the Court strikesdown RoeIt is vital that Democrats end their filibuster immediately to pass a law protecting abortion access.
“Once the Court eviscerates abortion rights (as it did with voting rights) perhaps the Dem Senate will create an exception to the filibuster for protection of constitutional rights, put Roe into statute and pass voting rights,” Rubin tweeted. “Biden better use famed negotiating powers on [Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe] Manchin.”
Others noted that none of these would have been possible if it weren’t for the recklessness with which former President Donald Trump was capable to appoint antiabortion justices at the Court.
“It’s wild that a third of the Supreme Court was appointed by a man who attempted to overthrow the United States government, and we just continue to let those judges hand down decisions,” wrote Ian Millhiser, senior correspondent for Vox.
Reproductive rights activists expressed dismay after arguments wrapped up — and warned about the possibility that conservative justices wouldn’t stop at abortion.
“They are coming for all of it — and quickly,” wrote Katie Buie, National Communications Director for NARAL. “Every aspect of reproductive freedom is at stake.”
Writer Jill Filipovic also noted that anti-abortion laws — including restrictions like the ones Mississippi lawmakers have been trying to enforce — are typically associated with places that have worse health outcomes.
“The states with the strongest anti-abortion laws also boast the highest rates of infant mortality,” Filipovic wrote. “A woman who lives in a ‘pro-life’ state is much likelier to die during pregnancy, in childbirth, or soon after than a woman in a pro-choice state.”
Now that arguments are over, the Supreme Court will meet in private conference over the next few days, taking a vote amongst themselves to determine the case’s outcome. A senior justice will then assign someone who will write the majority opinion or take writing duties. Dissenting opinions from other justices will also be assigned.
The Supreme Court usually takes three months to issue a decision in most cases. The Court will likely issue its final orders in June or July, due to the gravity of this particular case.