Supreme Court Misses Opportunity To Correct Its Abortion Jurisprudence

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in June Medical Services L. L. C. v. Russo. This case involves a constitutional challenge to a Louisiana state law requiring any physician who performs abortions to hold admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles away from the place where he or she performs abortions. Various abortion providers sued to challenge the law, contending that it was unconstitutional because it placed an “undue burden” on a woman’s “right” to obtain an abortion. The Supreme Court agreed, holding the law unconstitutional. Associate Justice Stephen Breyer authored a plurality opinion that was joined by the Court’s three other liberal justices: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a separate opinion concurring in the result. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Jason J. McGuire, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF), made the following remarks: “The Supreme Court missed another opportunity today. In the 47 long years since the disastrous and legally indefensible 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the Court has had multiple opportunities to reverse course and overrule Roe. The Court missed one such opportunity in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), another in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), another in Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), and still another in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016). In most of these cases, a majority of the justices were Republican appointees who ought to have displayed some respect for the text of the Constitution. The same is true today. While Chief Justice John Roberts has a brilliant legal mind, he has repeatedly made it clear that he lacks the political and moral courage to uphold the Constitution in controversial cases. While we expect the Court’s liberal justices to rule like liberal justices, we expect better from the Chief Justice.”

McGuire concluded, “A keen intellect, an impressive resumé, and a high regard for the text of the Constitution are essential attributes for potential Supreme Court justices. However, a strong spine is just as essential. Both President Donald Trump and future Republican presidents should keep the ‘spine factor’ in mind as they make future appointments to the Court.”