3 Law Profs: Connecting Abortion and Voting Rights at SCOTUSBreaking News
tags: abortion, Supreme Court, voting rights
Leah Litman is an assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan and host of the Supreme Court podcast "Strict Scrutiny." Twitter
Melissa Murray is the Frederick I. and Grace Stokes professor of law at New York University. Twitter
Kate Shaw is a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and co-director of the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy. Twitter
The Supreme Court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization gives states the maximum amount of freedom to restrict abortion. The decision is so sweeping that, under its logic, states could ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest; they may even be able — as the dissent notes — to prohibit abortions in circumstances in which a doctor believes the procedure is necessary to preserve the life or health of the pregnant person.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s opinion attempts to minimize these concerns by insisting that advocates for abortion rights can now register their support politically. The decision, he writes, “allows women on both sides of the abortion issue to seek to affect the legislative process by influencing public opinion, lobbying legislators, voting, and running for office.” He breezily concludes that “women are not without electoral or political power.”
Alito’s assurances, however, ring hollow — in part because this conservative court has made several decisions that have hobbled the infrastructure of democracy. As a result, true democratic deliberation on the abortion question will be elusive. What the court has done is to turn the issue of abortion over to politicians who are increasingly removed from the voters’ will, as well as increasingly extreme on issues of reproductive rights and women’s self-determination.
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