WASHINGTON — Below are some excerpts from the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks.
In affirming the law 6-3, the high court also voted 5-4 to overturn 1973’s Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide, and 1992’s Casey v. Planned Parenthood ruling, which affirmed Roe.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court’s majority opinion and was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote a separate opinion, concurred with the majority in upholding the Mississippi law, but not in overturning Roe.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote a joint dissent.
From Alito’s majority opinion:
— “Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views. Some believe fervently that a human person comes into being at conception and that abortion ends an innocent life. Others feel just as strongly that any regulation of abortion invades a woman’s right to control her own body and prevents women from achieving full equality. Still others in a third group think that abortion should be allowed under some but not all circumstances, and those within this group hold a variety of views about the particular restrictions that should be imposed.”
— “Even though the Constitution makes no mention of abortion, the court held (in Roe v. Wade) that it confers a broad right to obtain one. It did not claim that American law or the common law had ever recognized such a right.”
— “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.’ … The right to abortion does not fall within this category.”
— “‘Stare decisis,’ the doctrine on which Casey’s controlling opinion was based, does not compel unending adherence to Roe’s abuse of judicial authority. Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
— “To ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right. Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”
From Roberts’ opinion:
— “Let me begin with my agreement with the court, on the only question we need decide here: whether to retain the rule from Roe and Casey that a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy extends up to the point that the fetus is regarded as ‘viable’ outside the womb. I agree that this rule should be discarded.”
— “There is a clear path to deciding this case correctly without overruling Roe all the way down to the studs: recognize that the viability line must be discarded, as the majority rightly does, and leave for another day whether to reject any right to an abortion at all.”
— “The court’s decision to overrule Roe and Casey is a serious jolt to the legal system — regardless of how you view those cases. A narrower decision rejecting the misguided viability line would be markedly less unsettling, and nothing more is needed to decide this case.”
From Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan’s dissent:
— “One of us (Breyer) once said that it ‘is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much.’ … For all of us, in our time on this court, that has never been more true than today. In overruling Roe and Casey, this court betrays its guiding principles. With sorrow — for this court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent.”
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