The Supreme Court let the most restrictive abortion ban in the country—Texas’ SB 8, which bans abortion at about six weeks’ gestation—take effect without a single court hearing arguments on its constitutionality.
This is bad. I cannot stress just how bad this is.
Let’s just get this out of the way: We can stop debating about whether the Court overturned Roe v. Wade. They did. So what if it’s on a technicality? It’s not a technicality to the people forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will.
The Court did this in the least transparent fashion possible, which should tell all of us they don’t care that we’re mad. They don’t care that we know they’re stealing away rights and democracy. They don’t care because there is no check on their power with no political will.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberals to say that the courts should pump the breaks on SB 8 taking effect because the enforcement mechanism—abortion vigilante—is unprecedented, and the courts need to take a look.
This is a status quo position. By saying this, Roberts is staying true to his reputation as an institutionalist.
But it doesn’t matter if Roberts is an institutionalist if the other conservatives on the bench are not. And these other conservatives are most definitely not institutionalists. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and the three Trump justices—Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Neil Gorsuch—run the show now.
In the immediate, it means that Roe is dead letter law in Texas. And probably Mississippi and Louisiana—the other states in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
And it means more bad news is coming.
But it doesn’t mean people stop needing access to abortion. Nor does it mean that providers will stop providing that care. After this week though, it is undeniable that the abortion landscape is radically changed—for generations.