Supreme Court Poised to Overturn Roe
Written by Stacie Murphy, Director of Congressional Relations | Published: December 2, 2021
So it really feels like the Supreme Court is going to overturn Roe v. Wade, and before I do anything else, I need to get something off my chest.
There. I can’t say I really feel all that much better, but we all have to take our comforts where we can in the over-armed, under-supported pandemic hellscape we call the 2020s. Anyway, on to business.
Yesterday morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Ostensibly about a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the case is, in reality, the one that looks likely to bring down Roe.
Mississippi’s Solicitor General, Scott Stewart, asked the Court to do just that in his opening remarks, saying that both Roe and the Court’s later decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey “haunt our country” and have “poisoned the law.” He had an eager audience, with at least five justices (Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett) appearing more than receptive to the idea. The first three on that list were always a lock, but a few people (for bizarre reasons likely born of desperate, self-deluding hope) thought maybe the two newest justices might not want to do something so sweeping after four seconds on the bench.
Yeah. Ok, sure. Let’s see how that went.
Embracing a judicial philosophy best described as “YOLO, bitches!” both Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett fell all over themselves to make it clear that overturning 50 years of precedent and condemning people in half of U.S. states to forced pregnancy and childbirth was, basically, no big thing.
Kavanaugh mentioned Plessy v. Ferguson (the infamous “separate but equal” case) and mused, in the oh-so-disingenuous tone he adopts when he thinks he is being clever, that surely no one would disagree that some precedents should be overturned.
Above: Dramatic recreation of Kavanaugh and Barrett’s attitudes during oral arguments
Barrett made what was, for me, the most brain-breaking statement of the day, saying that since all 50 states now have “safe haven” laws, maybe we don’t need abortion anymore anyway. Women can just stay pregnant, give birth, drop their new infants off at fire stations, and go on with their lives. (I swear I cannot even with this woman.)
I remain simply astounded that Julie Rikelman, the lawyer representing Jackson Women’s Health Organization, not only didn’t burst into flame in response, but was able to retain the ability to answer Justice Barrett in a polite tone. I, on the other hand . . .
Above: The author, who had an easy pregnancy and childbirth and still found it to be total bullshit, when Barrett shrugged off both as no big deal.
Anyway, while the five uber-conservatives basically cackled and rubbed their hands together, somewhat-sane-conservative (in comparison, at least) Chief Justice John Roberts seemed pretty clearly to be hunting for a way to uphold the Mississippi law without actually going so far as to overturn Roe. It didn’t seem like he was getting much interest, though. Susan Collins, wherever she is, is probably concerned. Maybe even troubled.
Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor were clearly angry but just as clearly know how to count votes, so they know what’s coming. Sotomayor, in particular, stated bluntly that she doubts the Court could “survive the stench” of overturning Roe.
The decision is expected (and/or dreaded, take your pick) in June 2022.