We’ve now looked at abortion-related moral and political philosophy, abortion polling, abortion’s history in the United States, Griswold v. Connecticut‘s establishment of the right to privacy, Roe v. Wade‘s role in legalizing abortion nationally, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey‘s modification of Roe‘s holding.
On to Part III…
One Supreme Court justice from Planned Parenthood v. Casey is still on the bench — Clarence Thomas, who is now in his 31st year on the Court. Thomas signed on to the dissent in Casey that stated, “We believe that Roe was wrongly decided, and that it can and should be overruled.”
It’s clear that Justice Thomas hopes the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will overturn Roe, and about 30% of Americans join him in that hope. To overturn Roe‘s precedent, pro-life advocates have hoped that, one day, the Court might be conservative enough to overrule it.
That day might be nigh. Since Roe, states have periodically passed laws averse to it, but federal courts regularly issue injunctions and overturn such laws, so they never go into effect. The Supreme Court rarely even hears an abortion case; instead, a lower court strikes down the law, and upon appeal SCOTUS declines to “grant cert.” (Granting cert, or a “writ of certiorari,” is when at least four justices think the Court should hear an appeal, and it therefore asks for the evidence and testimony from lower court rulings.) The lower court ruling therefore stands, and the law remains struck down.
However, thanks to a rightward lurch during Donald Trump’s presidency, the Court now has six conservatives (Chief Justice John Roberts — more moderate than conservatives would like, but still right-leaning — and associate justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett). They serve alongside just three liberals (associate justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan).
Last year, an abortion case — one that could substantially roll back Roe and/or Casey — came to them. If the Court granted cert, that alone would mark a shift in the Court’s philosophy regarding those important precedents, and it could be a harbinger of a dramatic undoing of Roe when the Court issues its ruling.
The question was — would the justices agree to hear the case?
The case is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and it might transform United States abortion law. For that reason, today we’ll take a close look at it. I’ll split the post into three phases:
- Facts of the case and lower court decisions
- Oral arguments from each side — including justices’ reactions to those arguments
- Considerations and predictions for the June ruling
(And remember, a podcast will be forthcoming!)
Continue reading “Abortion, Part III: Dobbs v. Jackson (and the Looming Demise of Roe v. Wade)”