June 27, 2022
On Friday, June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade—eliminating the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion and handing states authority to drastically limit or ban the procedure, reports The Hill.
The political bulletin predicts that the 6-3 decision by a majority of conservative justices will “fundamentally reshape” American society by overturning the landmark 1973 precedent—and cautions that “it is certain to ignite a political firestorm and yield a complex patchwork of state laws that will effectively block large swathes of the population from terminating unwanted pregnancies.”
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.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “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.”
He further noted, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
More than two dozen states, primarily in the South and Midwest, are expected to tighten abortion access as a result of Roe falling—including 13 states with “trigger bans” set to take effect automatically or through minimal effort by state officials.
For conservatives, the toppling of Roe marks the crowning achievement of a carefully orchestrated and well-funded movement that for decades has sought to elevate reliable allies to the Supreme Court and erase federal protections under Roe that conservatives have long considered an infringement of states’ rights.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined in the majority’s judgment but said he would have preferred a more incremental approach that would not have required overturning Roe and Casey outright.
“If it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case, then it is necessary not to decide more,” the Chief Justice wrote in a concurring opinion. “Perhaps we are not always perfect in following that command, and certainly there are cases that warrant an exception. But this is not one of them.”
The blockbuster decision comes after a stunning breach of Supreme Court secrecy last month led to the public release of a draft version of the opinion, offering a glimpse at the coming dismantlement of abortion rights as well as the likely upheaval over a ruling that most Americans said they would oppose.
Research contact: @thehill