WASHINGTON (Reuters) — In a bombshell decision, the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that had recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
The court voted 5-4 to overturn Roe, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing separately to say he would have upheld the Mississippi law at the center of that case, which bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but would not have reversed Roe. The court’s three liberal justices dissented.
Here are some excerpts from their opinions. You can read the full decision here.
CONSERVATIVE JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, IN THE MAJORITY OPINION:
“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
“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.”
Roe v. Wade recognized that the right to personal privacy under the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy. A ruling called Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, made in 1992, reaffirmed abortion rights and prohibited laws imposing an “undue burden” on abortion access.
“Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”
CONSERVATIVE JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, IN A CONCURRING OPINION:
“Because the Court properly applies our substantive due process precedents to reject the fabrication of a constitutional right to abortion, and because this case does not present the opportunity to reject substantive due process entirely, I join the Court’s opinion.”
“For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold (which protected the right to contraception), Lawrence (which invalidated state laws banning sodomy), and Obergefell (which legalized gay marriage nationwide).”
“Substantive due process conflicts with that textual command and has harmed our country in many ways. Accordingly, we should eliminate it from our jurisprudence at the earliest opportunity.”
CONSERVATIVE JUSTICE BRETT KAVANAUGH, IN A CONCURRING OPINION:
“The Constitution does not take sides on the issue of abortion. The text of the Constitution does not refer to or encompass abortion.”
“Because the Constitution is neutral on the issue of abortion, this Court also must be scrupulously neutral. The nine unelected Members of this Court do not possess the constitutional authority to override the democratic process and to decree either a pro-life or a pro-choice abortion policy for all 330 million people in the United States.”
“To be clear, then, the Court’s decision today does not outlaw abortion throughout the United States. On the contrary, the Court’s decision properly leaves the question of abortion for the people and their elected representatives in the democratic process.”
CONSERVATIVE CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, CONCURRING IN THE JUDGMENT ON THE MISSISSIPPI LAW ONLY BUT NOT OVERTURNING ROE:
“I would take a more measured course. I agree with the Court that the viability line established by Roe and Casey should be discarded under a straightforward stare decisis analysis. That line never made any sense.”
“If it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case, then it is necessary not to decide more. Perhaps we are not always perfect in following that command, and certainly there are cases that warrant an exception. But this is not one of them.”
“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.”
LIBERAL JUSTICES STEPHEN BREYER, ELENA KAGAN AND SONIA SOTOMAYOR, DISSENTING:
“Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.”
“No one should be confident that this majority is done with its work. The right Roe and Casey recognized does not stand alone. To the contrary, the Court has linked it for decades to other settled freedoms involving bodily integrity, familial relationships, and procreation.”
“The Court reverses course today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court has changed.”
“With sorrow – for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection – we dissent.”
© Thomson Reuters