Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned on Wednesday that overturning abortion rights would leave a "stench" that might destroy the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The justice made the arguments while grilling Mississippi Solicitor General Scott G. Stewart about the state's 15-week abortion ban in a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
"The sponsors of the House bill in Mississippi said they are doing it because we have new [conservative] justices," Sotomayor charged. "The newest ban Mississippi has put in place, the six-week ban, the Senate sponsor said, we're doing it because we have new justices on the Supreme Court."
"Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?" she asked. "We won't be able to survive if people believe that everything, including New York v. Sullivan -- I could name any other set of rights, including the Second Amendment, by the way. There are many people who believed the court erred in seeing this as a personal right as opposed to a militia right."
The justice added: "If people actually believe it's all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?"
Stewart tried to insist that his argument was grounded in the Constitution but ended up clashing with Sotomayor over whether so-called "fetal pain" was a sufficient reason to reconsider abortion bans.
The justice noted that only "fringe" doctors subscribe to the controversial theory.
Watch below to hear the audio from C-SPAN.
'How will the court survive?' Justice Sotomayor asks Solicitor General Scott G. Stewart www.youtube.com