SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — News this week of a leaked plan that the United States Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade – the landmark decision that granted abortion rights – continues to sink in for many.
Abortion rights activists say precedent is on their side as Roe has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years.
“Precedent is essentially a stabilizing force in the law. It’s this basic idea that there shouldn’t be revulsive changes in one direction or another in general,” said Brett Curry, a political science professor who teaches constitutional law at Georgia Southern University.
Curry says there is no doubt that if Roe were in the current court today, the current judges would not approve of him. But he says judges are expected to take established law into account.
“Different judges are going to have different ideas of how wrong something has to be to kind of shock the legal system, basically to uproot it,” Curry said. “Questions would include what the potential effects would be. This is sometimes called confidence interest, i.e. the extent to which people have come to trust a decision.
“And I think that’s one of the reasons why, in terms of the potential cancellation of Roe vs. Wade, it would be the idea that it’s something that’s been around for a long time,” Professor Curry said.
While many will say it does indeed rely on the law, Curry says the Supreme Court could still strike it down. Although not common, he says the precedent has been overturned. Curry cited the famous Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 which declared separate public schools for students of different races to be unconstitutional. This overturned a law that had been in effect since 1879.
“Today everyone is looking at this (Brown decision) and saying it was the right thing to do,” Curry said.
“The current court has overturned precedents over the past few years, but the cases are simply not as important or clearly as central to national political debate as Roe is,” Curry said.
Curry says that while there is speculation about the leaked draft and whether the majority of the court will take Roe and overturn it, he is concerned about the leak itself.
“The only thing that surprises me is the leak which is really unprecedented, and I think whichever way you come across the underlying issue, it’s very damaging to the court both its inner workings and the trust that judges have in their chambers,” Curry said.
Curry says that while the draft was leaked to pressure the justices, the “Supreme Court is kind of proud not to listen to the public in terms of opinions, but no matter what she does now, she will be considered. as having done so. .”
The question of the possible annulment of Roe v. Wade surrounds a Mississippi law that prohibits abortion at 15 weeks. The court may be able to uphold that law without necessarily overturning Roe, but the leaked draft indicates that many conservatives are apparently inclined to overturn the landmark decision.
Still, Curry says it’s unclear what discussions the judges have had or may have in the future.
It indicates that Roe v Wade was passed on the basis of the constitutional right to privacy. Abortion rights activists are already saying that if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe, it may also be willing to strike down other landmark privacy-based cases, such as gay rights and same-sex marriage.
“How things would go to unseat Roe on the basis of a privacy breach could spill over into other areas,” Curry said. “It’s if the court wanted to go there, but it comes back to the idea of law and politics, how do they intersect?”