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Politics: SCOTUS to Hear Biggest Abortion Case Since Roe, Where Barrett, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch Stand

Conflict over abortion laws won't abate if Roe v. Wade falls

  Conflict over abortion laws won't abate if Roe v. Wade falls On both sides of America’s abortion debate, activists are convinced that Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion — is imperiled as never before. Yet no matter how the current conservative-dominated court handles pending high-profile abortion cases — perhaps weakening Roe, perhaps gutting it completely — there will be no monolithic, nationwide change. Fractious state-by-state battles over abortion access will continue. Roe's demise would likely prompt at least 20 Republican-governed states to impose sweeping bans; perhaps 15 Democratic-governed states would reaffirm support for abortion access.

Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett stands during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021. © Erin Schaff/Getty Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett stands during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021.

Before taking office, former President Donald Trump vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade and now his appointees—Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch—could finally deliver the tough blow as the court takes up one of the biggest legal challenges to abortion rights since the 1973 landmark decision.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court, which now has a 6-3 conservative majority, will hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization—a case challenging both Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

John Roberts' long history with abortion and Roe v. Wade

  John Roberts' long history with abortion and Roe v. Wade Since his first job as a young lawyer in Washington, John Roberts' work has been entangled with Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that gave women a right to end a pregnancy. © Alex Wong/Getty Images U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts leaves after day five of the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol January 25, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump's defense team started to present its arguments today in the Senate impeachment trial. He helped hoist the banner against Roe in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

Twenty-one states have laws in place that would ban nearly all abortions if the court overturns those two rulings, meaning the justices' decision could drastically diminish access to abortions across the nation.

Dobbs involves a Mississippi ban that only allows for abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy if there is a medical emergency or fetal abnormality. It will be the first time the court will rule on the constitutionality of a pre-viability abortion ban since Roe.

Focus will turn to Trump's newest additions to the bench this week. Here's how the three justices have ruled on reproductive rights in the past and what they've said on overturning Roe.

Amy Coney Barrett

While Barrett—who was praised by Republicans for being the first anti-abortion female judge appointed to the bench—is known for being outspoken about her Catholic faith, she has remained mum on her personal views on Roe.

Mississippi asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in blockbuster abortion case

  Mississippi asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in blockbuster abortion case The state's legal argument is the sharpest framing yet of the dispute as Mississippi engages in a frontal assault on the right to abortion.The high court agreed in May to hear a challenge to Mississippi's ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, giving its new, six-member conservative majority a chance to roll back the 1973 ruling that women have a constitutional right to abortion.

Asked about her opinion on the case during her 2017 Senate confirmation hearings for her seat on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett said: "All nominees are united in their belief that what they think about a precedent should not bear on how they decide cases," adding that her faith "would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge".

During her time on the lower court, Barrett voted to rehear arguments in two cases related to Indiana laws that limit abortions, including one that required doctors to inform parents of a minor seeking an abortion and another that required burial or cremation for fetal remains of an abortion that was ruled unconstitutional.

However, she also voted to uphold precedent in another case that ruled to allow for buffer zones that would protect abortion patients from protesters outside clinics.

While a law professor at Notre Dame, Barrett spoke at an appearance in Jacksonville where she implied that she didn't think the Supreme Court would overturn the right to abortion, but suggested that justices may allow for more restrictions on abortion.

Lone Mississippi clinic on front line of U.S. Supreme Court abortion battle

  Lone Mississippi clinic on front line of U.S. Supreme Court abortion battle Lone Mississippi clinic on front line of U.S. Supreme Court abortion battleJACKSON, Miss. (Reuters) - As a car drove into the parking lot of Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic, the only abortion provider in the state of Mississippi, anti-abortion activist Beverly Anderson leaned in to speak to the woman in the passenger's seat.

"The question is how much freedom the court is willing to let states have in regulating abortion," Barrett said in 2016.

During her time at Notre Dame, she also added her name to a list of "citizens of Michiana" who signed a newspaper ad opposing "abortion on demand" that called to "put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe and restore laws that protect the lives of unborn children."

Brett Kavanaugh

During his 2018 confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh suggested that he may not be the ally the anti-abortion movement hoped for after he described Roe as "settled as precedent," adding that it had been "reaffirmed many times," and called Casey "precedent on precedent."

But despite becoming the Supreme Court's ideological median, joining the majority opinion more than any of the other justices—and renewing hope among abortion activists by suggesting he could change his position on the Texas abortion ban, Kavanaugh has also opposed abortion rights in the past.

In the only abortion case Kavanaugh heard as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, he issued a decision that would have forced a young immigrant to further delay her abortion until she was appointed a sponsor, postponing the abortion almost a month after she sought it.

Everyone Expects the Supreme Court to Uphold or Overturn Roe. But There’s Another Option.

  Everyone Expects the Supreme Court to Uphold or Overturn Roe. But There’s Another Option. The escape hatch from this abortion battle that terrifies conservatives.Each side of this showdown has generally framed Dobbs as a one-question test with a yes-or-no answer: Should the Supreme Court uphold or abolish the constitutional right to abortion before fetal viability? Each side agrees that the outcome lies in the hands of three justices who make up the center of this hard-right court: John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Legal advocates have aimed every argument at this powerful new troika.

Days later, the full appeals court reversed the decision.

In his dissent, Kavanaugh accused the majority of creating "a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand".

Last year, in Ramos v. Louisiana, which questioned the Sixth Amendment, Kavanaugh wrote an 18-page concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, about how stare decisis applied to the case and set up a framework for how he may rule in abortion cases in the future.

By emphasizing that "to overrule a constitutional precedent, the Court requires something 'over and above the belief that the precedent was wrongly decided,'" Kavanaugh suggested Roe could be found to be "grievously and egregiously wrong" and to have caused "significant real-world consequences."

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch (L) and Supreme Justice Brett Kavanaugh attend the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives on February 04, 2020 in Washington, DC. Mario Tama/Getty © Mario Tama/Getty Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch (L) and Supreme Justice Brett Kavanaugh attend the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives on February 04, 2020 in Washington, DC. Mario Tama/Getty

Neil Gorsuch

Although Gorsuch never ruled on an abortion rights case during his decade on Colorado's 10th Circuit, he's written about his belief that life is "intrinsically valuable and that intentional killing is always wrong."

Abortion debate epicenter: Mississippi clinic stays open

  Abortion debate epicenter: Mississippi clinic stays open JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — As the U.S. Supreme Court hears a Mississippi case that could topple abortion rights nationwide, the state’s only abortion clinic is busier than ever: Volunteers continue to escort patients into the bright pink building while protesters outside beseech women not to end their pregnancies. In recent years, Jackson Women's Health Organization saw patients two or three days a week. It recently doubled its hours to treat women from Texas, where a law took effect in early September banning most abortions at about six weeks, and from Louisiana, where clinics are filling with Texas patients.

And while that record of not hearing challenges to abortion has continued during his time on the Supreme Court, he hinted during a hearing last year that he would likely side with anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers in a case challenging the First Amendment.

During his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch assured senators that he had not made any promises about overturning Roe and stressed that the ruling "has been reaffirmed many times," stopping short of answering whether he believes it was "decided correctly."

The ultra-conservative justice has also been considered the most aligned with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who was known to repeatedly rule in favor of abortion restrictions.

But the lack of abortion cases in Gorsuch's history means there's little to confirm where exactly he stands when it comes to reproductive rights.

Related Articles

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  • SCOTUS to Hear Arguments on Texas Abortion Ban November 1, Declines for Now to Block Law
  • One Year On, Amy Coney Barrett Is About To Play Crucial Role on Abortion
  • Texas Doctors Call on U.S. Supreme Court to Overturn 'Ridiculously Written' Abortion Law

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If Roe v. Wade is overturned, here's what happens .
If it overturns Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court would unleash a series of state-level legislative battles and fuel heated public debateWhile it's difficult to predict outcomes, observers have suggested the court's conservative majority will strike down decades of precedent following Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that limited government restrictions on abortion. In doing so, it could allow state legislatures to pass laws banning abortions prior to fetal viability.

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