Feinstein, Padilla, Colleagues Urge Supreme Court to Protect Reproductive Rights by Upholding Roe and Rejecting Mississippi’s Blatantly Unconstitutional Law
Sep 21 2021
Washington–Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) joined their colleagues to file a bicameral amicus brief in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization along, urging the Supreme Court to uphold nearly 50 years of precedent in Roe v. Wade and protect the constitutional right to abortion care.
After the Court refused to block the dangerous, cruel abortion ban in Texas from going into effect, Dobbs represents yet another case that could undermine nearly 50 years of precedent and potentially overturn Roe. Dobbs is a challenge from Mississippi’s sole remaining abortion provider against H.B. 1510, the state’s extreme law banning all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape and incest, and only narrow, inadequate exceptions for a medical emergency or in cases of a severe fetal abnormality. The law is blatantly unconstitutional under Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which held that individuals have the right to decide whether or not to be pregnant prior to fetal viability. In 2019, the Fifth Circuit upheld a lower court decision halting the Mississippi law’s implementation.
“This Court has made clear that abortion bans like H.B. 1510 are unconstitutional because they violate the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy before viability; the decision below should be affirmed on that basis alone. But as a matter of public policy, it is also important to recognize that laws like H.B. 1510 do not merely encroach on individual liberty and autonomy; they also do so in a way that disproportionately imperils the health and economic security of vulnerable populations,” wrote the lawmakers.
The lawmakers stressed that the only thing that has changed since Casey and Roe were decided is the composition of the Court—which is not a compelling reason to re-examine Roe. Therefore, the members emphasized that overturning Roe would represent a disregard for settled law, our legal system, and the Constitution. “Respect for precedent—a fundamental principle that is essential to our legal system, the legitimacy of judicial and legislative institutions, and the rule of law—compels affirmance of the decision below.”
The lawmakers also noted that the abortion rights codified in Roe and Casey have been settled law for nearly 50 years and 30 years respectively, highlighting that, “adherence to Roe and Casey is even more necessary to protect the settled expectations and reliance interests of multiple generations of individuals who have rightly understood the freedom to decide to terminate a pregnancy before viability as a firmly established constitutional right, and who have never known a world without Roe’s constitutional guarantee.” The Supreme Court has upheld the Constitutional right to an abortion as recently as 2016, in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, and again just last year in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo.
Both Feinstein and Padilla are cosponsors of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would guarantee access to and the right to provide abortion services in the United States.
In addition to Feinstein and Padilla, the amicus brief was also signed by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). In the House, the brief was led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.).
Full text of the amicus brief is available here.