Court Battles

Sotomayor suggests court wouldn’t ‘survive the stench’ if abortion rights undercut

Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday suggested the Supreme Court would not “survive the stench” if the court were to uphold Mississippi’s controversial 15-week abortion ban.

Sotomayor, while grilling the attorney backing the Mississippi law during oral arguments, suggested the court would be perceived as highly politicized were it to undermine the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade and related rulings and that such a decision would be viewed as merely a reflection of the court’s new lopsided 6-3 conservative majority.

“Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” she asked. “I don’t see how it is possible.”

The liberal justice’s comments came Wednesday as the court considered the constitutionality of Mississippi 15-week ban, which is among scores of state abortion restrictions that passed just as the Supreme Court began skewing more conservative with the addition of former President Trump’s three nominees to the bench.

The Mississippi law directly conflicts with Roe, which for nearly five decades has barred states from banning abortion prior to when a fetus can live outside the womb, known as fetal viability, which occurs around 24 weeks.

One of the central themes in Wednesday’s arguments was “stare decisis,” the legal doctrine that generally binds courts to abide by past rulings.

While the court’s more liberal justices seemed highly concerned about the prospect of departing from Roe and related rulings, the court’s more conservative justices generally seemed poised to consider setting new limits on the right to abortion.

Tags Abortion Dobbs v. Jackson Donald Trump Roe v. Wade Sonia Sotomayor
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