Today the Supreme Court agreed to take up a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Former Mississippi Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed it three years ago, but it never went into effect because lower courts blocked it.
With a new conservative majority on the Supreme Court, this means the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade could be in trouble. The justices will likely hear arguments on this Mississippi case in the fall.
“This was clearly an attempt to overturn Roe vs. Wade,” says Jessica Levinson, law professor at Loyola Law School. “What [Bryant] was saying is ‘I know this law contravenes Supreme Court precedent,’ meaning ‘I know this law goes against not only the court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, where they located a right to obtain an abortion in the Constitution, but also the current law, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision.’”
Alice Miranda Ollstein, a health care reporter for Politico, says conservatives are celebrating the move and hoping it’s a sign that the high court will overturn abortion rights precedent.
She adds, “You are seeing abortion rights supporters really bracing for what they consider the worst, which is the Supreme Court giving a green light to enact these kinds of sweeping bans.”
Levinson points out that if the Supreme Court decided to defer to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, they would not have accepted this case.
“The fact that the court decided to take a case that the lower court judges have said ‘no this law cannot go into effect,’ I think indicates that they are in fact prepared to overturn Roe and Casey. And it's a very different Supreme Court than it was even 18 months ago. We have not just five conservative members, but six conservative members. If you look at the voting records of the justices on the court, it's just hard to imagine that they would frankly vote any other way.”
She adds, “There's no question about it. This is a full frontal attack on Roe vs. Wade, and on decisions that say there is a constitutional right to obtain an abortion.”