June 24, 2022, Washington, D.C. – Today the Supreme Court issued its expected decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, upholding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and overturning the pre-viability precedents established in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. The majority opinion, joined by five justices, closely matches the leaked draft published by Politico in early May, but now includes a fiery dissent written jointly by the liberal justices.
With Roe and Casey no longer in effect, abortion bans and restrictions will immediately take effect in nearly half the states. That includes so-called “trigger laws” in Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, plus several other states that still have abortion bans on the books: Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Justice Roberts apparently wanted a narrower ruling, but could not find support for his compromise, making it a 5-1-3 decision, not a 6-3 decision as has been the case in a number of the Court’s other extreme rulings.
In their dissent, Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor describe the Court as saying “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.” Any and all state restrictions on abortion are now fair game, they acknowledge, pondering that some states may even criminalize abortion and incarcerate women for obtaining them. They also note that nothing in the opinion prohibits the federal government from prohibiting abortions nationwide.
The liberals likewise warn that “no one should be confident that this majority is done with its work,” citing several other linked precedents they would be willing to overturn, including Griswold (right to purchase and use contraception), Lawrence (right to same-sex intimacy), and Obergefell (right to same-sex marriage.)
“With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent,” they wrote.
Alliance for Justice Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement:
“Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will be remembered in the same vein as Dred Scott v. Sandford, Plessy v. Ferguson, Korematsu v. United States, and Bowers v. Hardwick as a dreadful stain on our nation’s history. For the first time ever, the Supreme Court has rescinded a recognized constitutional right. This disturbing milestone speaks to how hyper-partisan and lawless the Trump Court has become. Republican Senators colluded with President Trump to illegitimately pack the court with far-right ideologues and this is the devastating result.
“It cannot be overstated how damaging this ruling will be to the most vulnerable members of our society, particularly people of color. Those with the necessary finances will still be able to access abortion services, so this ruling will primarily harm those without the resources needed to travel to other states to seek legal abortions. At a time when Black maternal mortality is unacceptably high, innocent people will die because they cannot access the abortion care they deserve. Studies consistently show that limiting abortion access significantly exacerbates our nation’s maternal mortality crisis.
“Every person should commit today to ensuring that the right to abortion is protected in their home state. The journey for such protections will be longer for some than others, but it is a necessary next battle that must be won. In addition, we must call on President Biden and Senate Democrats to commit to filling every lower court vacancy by the end of this year with judges who will protect reproductive freedom — those judges will be best equipped to insulate us against rulings that might further erode our basic rights and fundamental freedoms. Finally, we must channel our rage at this illegitimate ruling into demanding reforms like the passage of Women’s Health Protection Act Court and court reforms that are necessary to protect us from harmful, unlawful rulings like this one.”
“Even knowing that this terrible decision was coming does not soften the blow. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, not men. By that simple standard, today’s decision is profoundly un-American; it is a willful and reckless assertion of power based on a simple fact: The conservatives have more votes so law and reason are irrelevant. The Court has violated its oath to protect and defend the Constitution.”