All six Republican-appointed justices voted to uphold Mississippi’s ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and five went further and overturned Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right it established. Justice Samuel Alito was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett in the majority opinion of the Supreme court. Chief Justice John Roberts said he would have stopped short of toppling Roe completely.
Alito wrote of Roe:
Roe was on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided… Wielding nothing but “raw judicial power,” the Court usurped the power to address a question of profound moral and social importance that the Constitution unequivocally leaves for the people.
Thomas wrote a concurring opinion that highlighted the abortion ruling’s relationship with other landmark cases, including those that codified rights to same-sex marriage:
The Court today declines to disturb substantive due process jurisprudence generally or the doctrine’s application in other, specific contexts. Cases like Griswold v. Connecticut, (right of married persons to obtain contraceptives); Lawrence v. Texas, (right to engage in private, consensual sexual acts); and Obergefell v. Hodges, (right to same-sex marriage), are not at issue. The Court’s abortion cases are unique, and no party has asked us to decide “whether our entire Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence must be preserved or revised.” Thus, I agree that “[n]othing in [the Court’s] opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”
For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is “demonstrably erroneous,” we have a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents. After overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated.
The court’s three Democratic appointees — Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — said the majority had relegated women to “second-class citizenship.”
Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens. Yesterday, the Constitution guaranteed that a woman confronted with an unplanned pregnancy could (within reasonable limits) make her own decision about whether to bear a child, with all the life-transforming consequences that act involves. And in thus safeguarding each woman’s reproductive freedom, the Constitution also protected “[t]he ability of women to participate equally in [this Nation’s] economic and social life.” But no longer. As of today, this Court holds, a State can always force a woman to give birth, prohibiting even the earliest abortions.
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