By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews)
Source: United States Supreme Court (Information)
Washington, District of Columbia: The United States Supreme Court has ruled on Friday, June 24th, 2022 to overturn Roe versus Wade and the fundamental right to abortion that has been the law nationwide for almost 50 years.
Pictures: WUSA 9, KABC 7 and WJLA 7 (Courtesy)
The court ruled 5-4, with Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett voting to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, in an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, who called Roe “egregiously wrong from the start.”
The ruling is the court’s most significant on abortion rights in years and was made possible by three appointees to the United States Supreme Court from former United States President Donald Trump.
In a majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito from Justices Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch said, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives. We end this opinion where we began. Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”
*** United States Supreme Court Ruling: ***
The ruling upholds Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which directly clashed with Roe’s requirement that states permit abortion up to the point of fetal viability, around 24 weeks, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that reaffirmed Roe’s core holding.
Chief Justice John Roberts made it abundantly clear that he felt the Supreme Court’s five other conservative justices went too far in their decision to overturn Roe versus Wade and end a federal right to an abortion.
In his concurring opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “The Court’s decision to overrule Roe and Casey is a serious jolt to the legal system—regardless of how you view those cases. A narrower decision rejecting the misguided viability line would be markedly less unsettling, and nothing more is needed to decide this case. I would decide the question we granted review to answer—whether the previously recognized abortion right bars all abortion restrictions prior to viability, such that a ban on abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy is necessarily unlawful. The answer to that question is no, and there is no need to go further to decide this case.”
In a joint dissenting opinion, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote, “With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent. Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens. As of today, this Court holds, a State can always force a woman to give birth, prohibiting even the earliest abortions. A State can thus transform what, when freely undertaken, is a wonder into what, when forced, may be a nightmare. Some women, especially women of means, will find ways around the State’s assertion of power. Others—those without money or childcare or the ability to take time off from work—will not be so fortunate. Maybe they will try an unsafe method of abortion, and come to physical harm, or even die. Maybe they will undergo pregnancy and have a child, but at significant personal or familial cost. At the least, they will incur the cost of losing control of their lives. The Constitution will, today’s majority holds, provide no shield, despite its guarantees of liberty and equality for all. It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions. Across a vast array of circumstances, a State will be able to impose its moral choice on a woman and coerce her to give birth to a child. Enforcement of all these draconian restrictions will also be left largely to the States’ devices. A State can of course impose criminal penalties on abortion providers, including lengthy prison sentences. But some States will not stop there. Withdrawing a woman’s right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy does not mean that no choice is being made. It means that a majority of today’s Court has wrenched this choice from women and given it to the States. To allow a State to exert control over one of “the most intimate and personal choices” a woman may make is not only to affect the course of her life, monumental as those effects might be.”
According to medical experts, since Roe versus Wade in 1973 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, the court has forbidden states from banning abortions prior to fetal viability outside the womb, roughly 24 weeks.
Mississippi argued that Roe and Casey were wrongly decided and that each state should be allowed to set its own policy.
Jackson Women’s Health, Mississippi’s only remaining abortion clinic, argued that the high court’s protection of a woman’s right to choose abortion is clear, well-established precedent and should be respected.
After oral arguments in December 2021, a majority of justices voted initially to side with Mississippi, according to a leaked first draft opinion by Justice Alito published by Politico in early May 2022 and confirmed to be authentic by Chief Justice Roberts.
According to ABC News/Washington Post polling, majorities of Americans have long supported upholding Roe versus Wade and oppose state bans on all abortions,
But Americans appear more divided on the type of ban at issue in Mississippi. A Marquette University Law School poll late last year found 37% favored upholding a 15-week ban, with 32% opposed.
Mississippi’s sole clinic, Jackson Women’s Health, only performs abortions up to 16 weeks.
As the Supreme Court case was pending, several Republican-led states enacted unique laws that effectively circumvent constitutional protections for abortion.
Texas’ SB8 – a near-total ban on abortions — took force in September 2021, deputizing everyday citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” an illegal abortion. Oklahoma recently implemented a similar citizen-enforced measure that bans all abortions, with only exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother.
The United States Supreme Court ruled last year that it could not intervene to block the state laws.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 26 states are considered certain or likely to ban abortions following the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe, which supports abortion rights, and 14 states plus Washington, D.C., have laws explicitly protecting access to abortion care.
Following the ruling overturning Roe versus Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas called on his colleagues in the United States Supreme Court in his opinion concurring to overturn the rulings that currently protect the right to contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage.
In his concurrent opinion to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Justice Clarence Thomas emphasized that United States Supreme Court should “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell . “
“Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous’… we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents… After overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas.
The cases mentioned by Justice Clarence Thomas include Griswold v. Connecticut, which ruled that states had no right to ban contraception, Lawrence v. Texas, which ruled on same-sex sex, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled that same-sex couples could legally marry.
In response to Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion, Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan pushed back on his suggestion in their emphatic dissent.
The Justices argued that all three cases mentioned by Justice Clarence Thomas, “are all part of the same constitutional fabric, protecting autonomous decision making over the most personal of life decisions.”
“The majority (or to be more accurate, most of it) is eager to tell us today that nothing it does ‘cast[s] doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion’… But how could that be? The lone rationale for what the majority does today is that the right to elect an abortion is not ‘deeply rooted in history’: Not until Roe, the majority argues, did people think abortion fell within the Constitution’s guarantee of liberty. The same could be said, though, of most of the rights the majority claims it is not tampering with. The majority could write just as long an opinion showing, for example, that until the mid-20th century, ‘there was no support in American law for a constitutional right to obtain [contraceptives].’ So one of two things must be true. Either the majority does not really believe in its own reasoning. Or if it does, all rights that have no history stretching back to the mid19th century are insecure. Either the mass of the majority’s opinion is hypocrisy, or additional constitutional rights are under threat. It is one or the other,” Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan wrote.
Reaction over the United States Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe versus Wade have been coming in across the nation from both sides of the issue.
In a statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America said, “Today marks an historic human rights victory for unborn children and their mothers and a bright pro-life future for our nation. Every legislature in the land, in every single state and Congress, is now free to allow the will of the people to make its way into the law through our elected representatives.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at her weekly news conference that congressional Republicans are “plotting a nationwide abortion ban.”
“This morning, the radical Supreme Court is eviscerating Americans’ rights and endangering their health and safety, but the Congress will continue to act to overcome this extremism and protect the American people. Today. the Republican controlled supreme court has achieved their dark extreme goal of ripping away a woman’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions. Be aware of this, the Republicans are plotting a nationwide abortion ban. They cannot be allowed to have a majority in the Congress to do that,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
United States President Joe Biden said in response to the ruling, “Today is a very solemn moment for the United States. The Supreme Court expressly took away a Constitutional right from the American people that it had already recognized. They simply took it away. That’s never been done to a right that is so important to so many Americans. This fall, we must elect more senators and representatives who will codify a woman’s right to choose into federal law. We need to elect more state leaders to protect this right at the local level. We need to restore the protections of Roe as law of the land. 50 years ago today, Title IX transformed our nation, benefitting millions of women and girls. As we look ahead, I am committed to protecting this progress and working to achieve full equality, inclusion, and dignity for all Americans.”
Former United States President Barack Obama said in response via Twitter to the ruling, “Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans. Across the country, states have already passed bills restricting choice. If you’re looking for ways to respond,
@PPFA, @USOWomen, and many other groups have been sounding the alarm on this issue for years—and will continue to be on the front lines of this fight.”
In California, reaction to today’s Supreme Court ruling have started to come from the county and from the state.
California’s 8th Congressional District Jay Obernolte said in response to the ruling, “However one feels about abortion, everyone should be able to respect the decision the Supreme Court reached today. We are a nation based on the rule of written law. Our Constitution does not mention abortion, and Congress has passed no law regulating it. The court recognized this in determining that because the federal government has not preempted the states on abortion, the ability to write laws concerning abortion therefore rests with the states. The court also found that the original Roe v. Wade decision was flawed because it was based on a presumption of an unenumerated right to privacy that is not written anywhere in federal law. The job of our courts is to interpret our constitution and the laws passed by our legislatures, not to create law themselves. The opinion says “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives”. Everyone, whether pro-choice or pro-life, can agree with that statement. The Supreme Court reaffirmed our commitment to the rule of law in issuing its decision today.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom said in response to the ruling, “The Supreme Court has stripped women of their liberty and let red states replace it with mandated birth. This is an attack on American freedom. CA, OR and WA are creating the West Coast offensive. A road map for other states to stand up for women. Time to fight like hell.”
Protests on both sides have been reported in several cities, including in the Washington, District of Columbia area in front of the Supreme Court building, with more reportedly plan soon.
Reports that a demonstrator scaled the top of the Frederick Douglass Bridge where the man hung a green banner, which the man said is the color of the abortion rights movement.
More information is still coming into ZachNews.