More than 200 Republican members of Congress are on record asking the Supreme Court to “reconsider” and overturn, “if appropriate,” Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion and ignited a culture war that continues to animate both major political parties almost half a century later.
Two conservative Democrats joined 168 House Republicans and 39 GOP senators, almost all men (97 percent of the signatories), in signing an amicus brief in a Louisiana case arguing for restrictions that would leave the state with just one abortion provider.
It’s not unusual for lawmakers on both sides of the abortion debate to file an amicus brief. But four years ago, in an almost identical case out of Texas, Republican senators did not ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. “Now they’re making that ask,” says Nan Aron, founder and president of Alliance for Justice, a liberal advocacy group. What’s changed? “Two new justices,” she adds. “That’s what changed.”
“What’s changed? “Two new justices. That’s what changed.””Nan Aron
What the brief indicates is that anti-abortion advocates are no longer pretending they respect the precedent of Roe, and a subsequent decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, that upheld Roe. Emboldened by the increased conservative strength on the Court, the long-held goal of overturning Roe is within reach.
Aron is not that afraid, though. “Not that I think they’re going to do it,” Aron hastens to add. “This is a court that’s very mindful of the polls and public opinion. Seventy-seven percent of the population doesn’t want Roe overturned. It’s unlikely the court would put in motion such a controversial debate before the election.”