His Supreme Court successor should keep in mind the power of digging deep into data — and reminding all the justices how their rulings would affect real Americans.
Opinion by MARY ZIEGLER
Justice Stephen Breyer is scheduled to leave the Supreme Court just as his conservative colleagues are poised to dismantle a key part of his legacy: the court’s approach to a right to choose abortion.
Breyer’s name might not immediately come to mind when anyone thinks about abortion rights. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late feminist icon, was arguably the court’s most eloquent defender of reproductive rights. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has taken on that role in the current court. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who long cast the swing vote in abortion cases, helped both to save abortion rights in 1992 and to water down protections for them, holding that abortion regulations would be unconstitutional only if they created an “undue burden.”
With its decision on S.B. 8, the Court is signaling that other states are welcome to imitate Texas’s strategy for eviscerating long-held legal protections.
By Mary Ziegler
DECEMBER 10, 2021
After weeks of waiting, the Supreme Court this morning finally allowed abortion providers’ challenge against Texas’s functional ban on abortion, S.B. 8, to go forward. But the win for abortion providers is not the sweeping victory that seemed likely when the Court heard oral argument on S.B. 8 in November—and even if legal abortions resume in Texas, any reprieve probably won’t last for long, because of another major abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that could gut abortion rights when the Court issues a decision next year. More immediately, the Court’s decision today almost invites other states to imitate Texas’s approach, creating the possibility for more constitutional chaos—and not just on the issue of abortion.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is an existential threat to Roe — even if the Court doesn’t use the words “Roe v. Wade is overruled.”
By Ian Millhiser
Nov 29, 2021
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which the Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday, is the single greatest threat to abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. It involves a Mississippi law that prohibits nearly all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, a law which violates the Supreme Court’s holding in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) that “a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.”
“Viability” refers to the moment when a fetus can live outside of the womb, which typically occurs around the 24th week of pregnancy. (It’s worth noting that, while Mississippi’s law is often described as a “15-week” ban, the law provides that the 15-week clock starts ticking on “the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman.” So, in practice, the law functions more like a 13-week abortion ban.)
Attacks on reproductive rights have metastasized well beyond abortion in recent years, endangering women’s health and lives.
By Michele Goodwin
Nov 12, 2021
In the nearly 50 years since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, there has perhaps never been a more consequential moment for abortion rights than the one we are in now. This fall, the nation’s highest court is hearing not one but three cases that could upend the fundamental promise at the heart of Roe: that pregnant women in the United States have a right to an abortion until a fetus becomes viable, which is around 24 weeks. On November 1, the court heard the first two of these cases, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and United States v. Texas, which addressed Texas’s near-total abortion ban, the law known as SB 8. And on December 1, the court will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which takes on the 15-week abortion ban passed by Mississippi in 2018. In that case, the state has made a direct appeal to the Supreme Court to overrule Roe.
By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter
Wed April 14, 2021
(CNN) Almost a year after Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the Supreme Court's liberals to cast the determinative vote to block a Louisiana abortion law, his opinion in the case is causing deep divisions among lower court judges and lawyers.
Last June, Roberts, who had never voted against an abortion restriction, spelled out his thinking in a concurring opinion, perhaps to bring clarity to lower courts dealing with the explosive issue.
Instead, that opinion has added to the tangle of cases and rulings throughout the country, some of which are now making their way up to the high court.
The court issued its first abortion decision since Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed.
By LEAH LITMAN
JAN 14, 2021
On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court released its first abortion decision since Senate Republicans confirmed Amy Coney Barrett as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor. The court’s unexplained, unsigned order allows the government to restrict access to the abortion pill. It also provides a strong signal that the new court is willing to indulge restrictions on abortion, even though it did not bother to explain why. Some may be inclined to write off the court’s decision since the incoming Biden administration could change the specific regulation at issue in the case, which required women to pick up mifepristone in person from a medical facility. But the decision serves as a standing invitation to states to impose yet more draconian restrictions on abortion.
Amy Coney Barrett has only been a Supreme Court justice for a few weeks, and she’s already facing a test on abortion.
By Carter Sherman
Amy Coney Barrett has only been a Supreme Court justice for a little over a month, but the high court is already facing a case that could give the conservative darling a chance to dismantle abortion rights across much of the United States.
The Supreme Court announced Monday that the justices will meet on Friday to talk about whether to hear the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which involves a 2018 Mississippi law that banned all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law allows for abortions in medical emergencies or in cases of a severe fetal abnormality, but there are no exceptions for rape or incest.
Alice Clapman, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Aug. 10, 2020
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June Medical Services struck down a Louisiana law requiring doctors to have privileges at a local hospital in order to perform abortions. Alice Clapman, litigator for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, says it’s time to recognize that many state abortion restrictions billed as “common sense health and safety regulations” are nothing more than tactics to hinder care, especially for rural communities and people of color who face systemic barriers to health care.
On June 29, in June Medical Services v. Russo (JMS), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that would have left the state with only one abortion provider. From the moment the court’s fractured decision came down, commentators began speculating and debating whether it signals a shift. Had the court moved from the balancing test applied in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt to a more deferential test, one that would focus solely on the degree of burden imposed by a challenged restriction, without inquiring into whether that restriction serves any valid state interest?
A federal appeals court will allow Arkansas to create degrading new hurdles for people seeking abortions.
By Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern
Aug 07, 2020
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in June Medical v. Russo was hailed by many liberal court watchers as a win for reproductive rights, as the court declined to overturn Roe v. Wade and formally eliminate the right to an abortion. On Friday, however, a federal appeals court ruled that June Medical significantly narrowed the constitutional right to abortion access. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel swept away an injunction that had blocked Arkansas from enforcing a slew of abortion restrictions, including a requirement that patients pregnant as a result of rape notify their rapists before terminating their pregnancy. The appellate court’s decision confirms that Chief Justice John Roberts’ controlling opinion in June Medical will serve as a tool to eviscerate abortion rights. Those who briefly heralded him as a champion of reproductive freedom were too caught up in the halftime show to see the game.
A concurring opinion leaves the standard for determining the constitutionality of abortion restrictions in doubt.
Aug 4, 2020
At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in June Medical Services v. Russo. At issue was a Louisiana law, the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act. Like hundreds of similar state laws across the country, this law would have made abortion services difficult, if not impossible, to obtain in Louisiana.
A majority of the Court struck down the Louisiana law, but five justices did not agree on why the law was unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts concurred only in judgment—and his concurrence may be the key to understanding what regulations the Court will or will not permit in the future.