What's the Future of Roe v. Wade?
With Justice Kennedy retiring, and the subsequent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, the liberties awarded by Roe v. Wade are in danger.
written by: forrest bloom
In 1973, the Roe v. Wade Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state's interests in regulating abortions: protecting women's health and protecting the potentiality of human life. This brought rise to many questions related to the legality of abortion. Should abortion be legal? To what extent? Who has the right to make that decision? The issue has certainly divided politicians along party lines, with Republicans typically opposing Roe and Democrats typically supporting Roe.
Justice Kennedy announced his retirement on June 27, and President Trump recently appointed Brett Kavanaugh as his replacement. The problem is that Justice Kennedy has been the pivotal swing vote of the Supreme Court—or as Michelle Wolf calls them—"The Supremes." He balanced the predictable conservatives with the consistent liberals. He was key in the deciding of many issues, including gay marriage and protecting juveniles and those with intellectual disabilities from the death penalty. He brought a happy medium to an otherwise conservative leaning court.
What Should I Know About Justice Brett Kavanaugh?
Our new Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, is more predictably conservative than Kennedy. Since 2006, he has been a judge in the very powerful Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was vetted by conservative group The Federalist Society and will shape our Supreme Court for years to come. His appointment to the Supreme Court makes the future of abortion rights questionable, and many are specifically concerned about his dissent in Garza v Hargan—a case about a 17 year old girl who came here illegally wanting to have an abortion in the USA. While the Court sided with the girl, Kavanaugh dissented under the premise that allowing the girl to have an abortion is “based on a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong." His dissent included typical anti-abortion rhetoric “abortion on demand" as well.
The Bigger Picture, An Aging Supreme Court
Although Kavanaugh is a slightly right-leaning Justice, none of his decisions have been too concerning. The real issue is Trump, who promised during his campaign that he would try to overturn Roe v. Wade. This is a much more realistic threat with the current shape of our Supreme Court. We can only hope that Justice Kavanaugh continues his trend of relative moderation. Even more concerning is the fact that two of the liberal Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, are 85 and 80 years old, respectively. In contrast, the oldest conservative Justice, Clarence Thomas, is 70. Trump's presidential legacy will be remembered as one that shaped our justice system for decades to come. Kavanaugh is simply a playing piece in the long term game of public policy.