Conservatives on the Supreme Court taking aim at abortion rights but can't decide how far to go: report
Olivier Douliery via AFP

According to a report from CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic, it is not a matter of when the conservative-dominated Supreme Court will undercut the longstanding Roe v. Wade decision, but how far they will go in denying a woman to right to bodily autonomy.

On Friday the court will "meet privately on Friday to consider whether to take up Mississippi's ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy," the analyst wrote and that could set in motion the first of what could be multiple steps to dismantle the Roe decision decided in 1973 that has riled conservatives ever since.

According to the journalist, the six conservatives have varying views about Roe, with Justice Clarence Thomas once writing, "Our abortion jurisprudence has spiraled out of control," and Donald Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch once pointing out standards used by the court have become, "highly politicized and contentious arena ... we have lost our way."

"New internal tensions in the age-old controversy have emerged, as the six Republican-appointed justices on the right wing diverge on curtailing precedent and more sharply clash with the court's three remaining Democratic-appointed liberals, " the CNN report states before adding, "the newly reconfigured court may want to wait to take any dramatic action on abortion. Multiple related laws are headed its way as states continue to adopt new prohibitions, including the near-total Arkansas abortion ban passed earlier this month with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest."

"If the justices were to take up a 15-week abortion ban and consider reversing decades-old precedent, it would intensify national divisions. Even if the justices ultimately deny the Mississippi petition, the case could give individual justices a chance to issue statements relative to the denial, laying out their arguments for future rollbacks of reproductive rights," the legal analyst wrote. "The pending case from Mississippi already reveals signs of conflict among the justices: They have considered but then postponed action on the dispute for nearly six months, listing it for discussion in private sessions yet offering no word on whether they would reject it, as they have similar cases of early-pregnancy abortion bans, or schedule the controversy for oral argument and decision. Disputes in this area of the law nearly always come down to the vote of a single justice and generate tensions all around."

One key justice could be recently appointed Amy Coney Barrett who has previously questioned Roe and was notably defended by former Senate Judiciary Committee head Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who proclaimed during the time of her nomination, "This is the first time in American history that we've nominated a woman who's unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology."

One wild card could be Chief Justice John Roberts who joined with liberals to set aside an abortion law in Louisiana in 2020, writing at the time, "Nothing about Casey suggested that a weighing of costs and benefits of an abortion regulation was a job for the court."

Biskupic added, " ... the chief justice, no longer the swing vote on abortion yet still influential, added that trying to do so 'would require us to act as legislators, not judges.'"

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