Roe v. Wade is overruled. The Republican Party, which achieved a generational victory when it captured a supermajority of the Supreme Court’s seats under former President Donald Trump, has now capitalized on that victory to achieve one of its longtime political goals. The half-century when American constitutional law protected a right to an abortion is now over, wrote Ian Millhiser at Vox.
Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is substantially similar to a leaked early draft of that opinion, which was published by Politico in early May. Alito’s opinion was joined by the Court’s four most conservative members. Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative who often takes a more incrementalist approach than Alito, wrote a separate opinion arguing that the Court should limit but not yet overrule Roe.
Alito’s final opinion doesn’t just allow Mississippi to enact the 15-week abortion ban at issue in Dobbs — a ban that violated Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 opinion that weakened Roe while retaining the constitutional right to an abortion up to the point of “viability.” Alito’s opinion goes further, and concludes that Roe and Casey “must be overruled.” It is written in Alito’s characteristically snide tone, repeatedly referring to abortion providers by the pejorative term “abortionists.” And it rests on a conservative theory that limits which rights are protected by the Constitution.
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Alito writes.
According to Alito, if a right isn’t explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, it must be “‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty’” to qualify for constitutional protection. He then spends many pages of his opinion arguing that the right to an abortion is not rooted in legal history or tradition.
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