The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this morning with a 6-3 vote, finding that there is no constitutional right to an abortion. The six members appointed by Republican Presidents voted against the three appointed by Democratic Presidents in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case about the constitutionality of a Mississippi law specifically designed and argued by the state to bring the question of abortion to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court my ass
— Danny DeVito (@DannyDeVito) June 24, 2022
In a majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, which was leaked back in May, the Court finds that there is no constitutional right to an abortion.
What this means immediately is that in 13 states with so-called “trigger laws,” performing an abortion will become a criminal offense. Reporting suggests these laws should all take effect within a month. Longer-term, the Court’s ruling potentially opens the door to Congress passing an abortion ban for the whole country if Republicans win control in the 2022 midterm elections.
The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion, and 13 states already have laws that ban abortion in the event of Roe v. Wade being overturned. Another half-dozen states have near-total bans or prohibitions after 6 weeks of pregnancy. https://t.co/VTLTK7zLWk pic.twitter.com/fwMM2CEOzB
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 24, 2022
A consensus opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas agreeing with and adding to Alito’s argument gave an indication of what some other longer-term consequences might be. Fifty years ago, in Roe, the right to an abortion was codified through an interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s due process clause.
The due process clause states that no state can “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In the majority opinion for Roe v. Wade, the Court wrote, “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
In Roe, the Court interpreted that liberty to include a “right to privacy” when it comes to individual choices about the body, sex and intimate relationships, which the state cannot take away. The same reasoning – a “right to privacy” – has been used in cases like Griswold v. Connecticut, which allows access to contraception, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which allows gay marriage. Thomas listed these cases and others in a list of ones he would like to “reconsider” now that the Court has overturned Roe.
Clarence Thomas, in his opinion concurring with Dobbs, calls on his court colleagues to next overrule Griswold (on contraception), Lawrence (on same-sex sex), and Obergefell (on same-sex marriage). And to go on from there. pic.twitter.com/lf2OeLq1zo
— Taniel (@Taniel) June 24, 2022
The dissent opinion authored jointly by the Court’s three liberal justices closed with a mournful note and fear for what the majority might do next. Almost always, Supreme Court dissents end with some variation of “I respectfully dissent.” This one, atypically, closes with sorrow rather than respect.
Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan penned the dissent in the Dobbs case. They really have a way with words.
Here are the last few paragraphs of their dissent today: pic.twitter.com/LkFHLpFTSe
— David Wolfe Bender (@dbenderpt) June 24, 2022
This latest ruling comes amid a series of activist decisions by the Court that promise to significantly alter American life. In the dissent opinion, Justice Sotomayor explicitly shares her fear that the conservative Court will continue its activist project.
The U.S. Supreme Court made it easier to own a gun, gave cops the ability to not read Miranda Rights, gave religious schools public funding, and overturned Roe v Wade after 50 years of precedence. Welcome to conservative America. Never vote Republican again.
— Lyndon Johnson's Johnson (@LBJs_Johnson) June 24, 2022
a chilling line from the joint dissent -- Kagan, Breyer, & Sotomayor do not believe this Court will stop with Roe. pic.twitter.com/x4ojQmSwn2
— Leah Litman (@LeahLitman) June 24, 2022
The public’s response was immediate. In Washington, D.C., protestors crowded around the Supreme Court building throughout the day. Online, many posted about their fears now that abortion is no longer constitutionally guaranteed.
According to Pew Research, about 6 in 10 Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Fuck Justice Alito.
Fuck you fucking liars Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney-Barrett.
Fuck Susan Collins.
Fuck you Mitch McConnell. #AbortionRightsAreHumanRights pic.twitter.com/vFSrbZ2riS
— Tiffany (@TuffTiffResists) June 24, 2022
Some right-leaning posters appeared to rejoice, thanking former President Donald Trump for appointing three of the six justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade — while also criticizing the media.
Again, a million thanks to President Trump for selecting justices who respect and interpret the Constitution.
— TheLeoTerrell (@TheLeoTerrell) June 24, 2022
Flagging this as misinformation. Courts cannot “eliminate” a constitutional right.
The Supreme Court rightly held the “constitutional right to abortion” DOES NOT EXIST.
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) June 24, 2022
Alongside the viral debate, many shared a skepticism about the legitimacy of the Court and the kind of power it holds.
Very glad I don't live somewhere like China or Cuba and instead live in a country founded on DEMOCRACY where most laws are decided on by a council of unelected wizards doing seances to ask the ghost of Thomas Jefferson what he thinks
— Eliot (@EliotETC) June 23, 2022
Should we be alive? The Supreme Court says “nah,” in a 6-3 decision.
— Kashana (@kashanacauley) June 23, 2022
The ruling led to grim forecasts from some about the capacity of the American government to maintain legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
i said this to my mom the other day but i don’t think older adults realize how outright depressing it is for millennials and gen z to keep “investing in our future” when everything is headed towards a future that doesn’t seem even remotely bearable
— natural redhead™️ (@daniellecanyell) June 23, 2022
welp. that’s a wrap on the United States
— ely kreimendahl (@ElyKreimendahl) June 24, 2022
Senator Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia who has frequently used his position as the fiftieth vote in the Democratic majority to obstruct the mainstream party’s agenda, shared his “alarm” at the actions of justices he voted to confirm. During confirmation hearings, all the justices who voted to overturn Roe on Friday said they wouldn’t overturn it, and Manchin claims to have believed them at the time. His remarks were widely mocked and parodied by users on Twitter.
I trusted the Coyote when he showed me that newly built tunnel and I am alarmed to learn that in fact it was merely something he’d painted on the side of a mountain. https://t.co/r3JMqN2TYB
— derek davison (@dwdavison) June 24, 2022
Alarmed! He's alarmed. https://t.co/sv7vy5CItW
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) June 24, 2022
Reactions and memes will continue to flow in as people deal with what this historic ruling will mean for them and their communities, and discussions on the topic will undoubtedly dominate much of the web in the near future.
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