Judge Sonia Sotomayor used her questions at a Supreme Court hearing on Wednesday on abortion rights to urge her fellow conservatives to follow precedent and not politics to decide the case.
She noted that the sponsors of the Mississippi Abortion Act of 2018, which would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, had said they were pushing forward legislation and a court challenge “because we have new ones. judges “to the Supreme Court.
Then-President Donald Trump successfully appointed three Supreme Court justices during his four-year tenure, giving the Tories a 6-3 majority.
Sotomayor, who was appointed by then-President Barack Obama, said rejecting landmark rulings establishing abortion rights would tarnish the court’s reputation and open the floodgates to further challenges to a law well established.
“Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are only political acts?” I don’t see how that’s possible, ”she said when questioning Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart.
Sotomayor referred to Roe v. Wade’s landmark decision that created “a set of entrenched expectations in our society, that this is what the court has ruled, this is what we will follow.”
Roe’s overthrow could have other far-reaching consequences as well, she warned.
“I could name any other set of rights, including the Second Amendment for that matter. Many politicians believe the court erred in considering it to be a personal right as opposed to a militia right, ”she said. “If people really believe that everything is political, how will we survive? How will the tribunal survive?
Stewart countered that there had been medical “advances” since the Roe decision in 1973 and since the 1992 court decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This decision ruled that states can impose certain restrictions on abortion as long as they do not present an “excessive demand”, but the procedure cannot be prohibited until fetal viability, generally considered to be 23 to 24 weeks. of pregnancy.
Sotomayor asked Stewart about medical progress since Casey, and he said “knowledge and concern about things like fetal pain” before 24 weeks.
Sotomayor accused him of using unwanted science and said there was a “small fringe of doctors” who shared this view and that it was “not at all science-based”.
“How is your interest other than a religious point of view? Sotomayor asked later. “When does a woman’s life and her endangerment enter the calculation? “
She said that “forcing poor women” to have unwanted pregnancies puts them “at a much greater risk of medical complications and death, 14 times greater for giving birth to a full term child than for. have an abortion before viability And now the state is telling these women, we can choose not only to physically complicate your life, to put you in medical danger, to impoverish you by choice, because we believe what? “
Stewart said a woman’s interest “is there all the time. All of the interests are there all the time.”
The court appeared on Wednesday ready to uphold Mississippi law, which would represent a dramatic break from 50 years of judgments. But it was not clear from the arguments whether the court would take the additional step of explicitly overturning its abortion precedents, including Roe v Wade.
We do not know when the court will rule.