The U.S. Supreme Court Monday morning announced it will take up a Mississippi case that bans abortion after 15 weeks. Legal experts say with a 6-3 conservative majority, and after years of right wing pressure including spending tens of millions of dollars to get those conservatives onto the Court, Americans are likely to see the end to women's right to choose to have an abortion.
SCOTUSblog says the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, "could be the biggest abortion case in more than a generation."
The Mississippi case is clearly unconstitutional, based on the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, as The New York Times notes today:
Judge Carlton W. Reeves of Federal District Court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and questioning the state lawmakers' motives.
“The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade," Judge Reeves wrote. “This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature."
Many conservative groups spent a tremendous amount of money to get America to the point where the Supreme Court would overturn what its own justices have said is "settled law." Tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.
Slate's Mark Joseph Stern explains why this is likely the end.
"There is no split in the lower courts over a state's ability to ban abortion at 15 weeks (or earlier)," he says via Twitter. "It seems likely that the Supreme Court took this case to change the rule."
And he suggests, as have others, that conservatives on the court waited until they had a strong majority to take up this case.
"The Supreme Court has sat on Dobbs since September 2020. There was clearly a battle behind the scenes between the justices over the decision to take this case. It is an extraordinarily ominous sign for reproductive rights that the anti-abortion faction apparently won out."
Stern says "the court may effectively greenlight total bans on abortion. Reproductive rights advocates have been dreading this day for a long time."
Other legal experts agree that a woman's right to have an abortion is likely nearing the end.
Former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman, who now teaches constitutional law at the University of California Los Angeles and San Diego, and is an LA Times Legal Affairs Columnist, says this is a "Frontal assault on constitutional reproductive rights."
Lower courts said the law was plainly unconstitutional under Roe, which forbids states from banning abortions before fetal viability. Mississippi district court called issue “straightforward." Frontal assault on constitutional reproductive rights.
— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) May 17, 2021
Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America:
Breaking: #SCOTUS to hear direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. Never forget that McConnell and others mocked us and gaslit us through the Kavanaugh fight for claiming that legal abortion was in jeopardy. They knew. They lied. We knew. We fought. And we're so far from done fighting.
— Ilyse Hogue (@ilyseh) May 17, 2021
"It is clear," Fordham University law professor Jed Shugerman says, the Supreme Court "will erode Roe. Kavanaugh is likely the decisive vote whether to overturn Roe."
Stern says the conservative justices "seem ready to end Roe head-on," and Barrett is the reason:
To be clear, the Supreme Court is only poised to overturn Roe because of Amy Coney Barrett. Roberts sided with the liberals in a 5–4 abortion decision last summer (albeit begrudgingly and with qualifications). With Barrett's confirmation, the court flipped against Roe and Casey.
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) May 17, 2021
Vox Senior Correspondent Ian Millhiser, author of two books on the Supreme Court, sums it up succinctly:
RIP Roe v. Wadehttps://t.co/7OtvlCMBKk
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) May 17, 2021