Nancy Pelosi just got some terrible news. The solidly conservative Supreme Court said today it will take a major abortion case that could lead to states issuing total bans on abortion. The court said today it will take up Mississippi’s appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down the state’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Mississippi is the first case to reach the court after a large number of conservative states passed laws intended to challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The case will be the first major test on this key issue for Trump’s three appointees.
“It is well past time for the Court to revisit the wisdom of the viability bright-line rule,” Mississippi attorney general Lynn Fitch wrote. Hillary Schneller, an attorney representing an abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson Women’s Health Organization said:
“In an unbroken line of decisions over the last fifty years, this Court has held that the Constitution guarantees each person the right to decide whether to continue a pre-viability pregnancy.”
Why it matters: It will be the first abortion case to be argued before the Supreme Court since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed, handing conservatives a 6-3 majority. The case could potentially provide a pathway to challenging Roe v. Wade and allowing outright bans on abortion.
Details: The Mississippi law, which was struck down by lower courts after being enacted in 2018, would only grant exceptions to its 15-week ban in cases of severe fetal abnormality or medical emergency, per AP.
The case will likely be heard in the fall, setting up a major showdown over abortion rights ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
What they’re saying: “This will be, by far, the most important abortion case the Court will have heard since the Casey decision in 1992,” University of Texas School of Law professor Steve Vladeck told CNN.
Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which then-Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, signed into law in 2018, made exceptions only for medical emergencies or cases in which there is a “severe fetal abnormality,” but not for instances of rape or incest. A federal judge in Mississippi struck down the law in November 2018, and the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in December 2019.
After being rescheduled for the court’s consideration in conference over a dozen times, the case could present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide prior to viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
It will be a blockbuster case, with the justices revisiting an issue that still deeply divides the country some fifty years after the landmark opinion, and with a ruling potentially coming in the middle of the 2022 midterm elections.
The case will thrust the court — with a 6-3 conservative majority — directly into the culture wars at a time when states across the country are attempting to pass more restrictive measures.
South Carolina, Oklahoma and Idaho have codified bans this year on abortion at the onset of a fetal heartbeat. Also this year, Arkansas and Oklahoma have enacted near-total abortion bans, and Montana banned the procedure at 20 weeks.
ASSOCIATED PRESS: The Supreme Court has agreed to consider a major rollback of abortion rights, saying it will take up Mississippi’s bid to enforce a 15-week ban on abortion. https://t.co/iq9EsLgJA0— WVVA News (@WVVA) May 17, 2021