By Jonathon Van Maren
On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case which will determine whether or not abortion bans prior to fetal viability are considered constitutional. The Mississippi abortion law is a 15-week ban, and if the Court upholds the law, Roe v. Wade will either be gutted or dead.
Decades of political positioning, scores of court appointments, hundreds of millions of dollars, and an unfathomable amount of blood, sweat, and tears have brought us to this moment. The last time the Court ruled on Roe was in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, when Bush Sr. appointee David Souter served as the swing vote to uphold America’s abortion regime. Then-Senator Joe Biden purportedly wept with joy when he heard Roe was safe.
Millions of pro-lifers hope that this time will be different. Bush Sr. appointee Clarence Thomas and Bush Jr. appointee Samuel Alito seem certain to rule against Roe; there is desperate hope that Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett will join them. Chief Justice John Roberts is the wild card, although he is known to be pro-life and his wife once served as Executive Vice President on the Board of Directors of Feminists for Life.
It seems unfathomable that the Court would decide to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health only to reaffirm Roe, especially this Court. Would six justices with pro-life track records really take an abortion case only to reinvent or uphold America’s abortion regime? It seems unlikely, but it is not impossible. As Rachel Bovard noted at The Federalist, “if Kavanaugh and Barrett betray pro-lifers, we must blow up the conservative legal movement.” The political arm of the pro-life movement has been playing the long game for decades, and this is the payoff moment. If it is another disappointment, it will transform politics as we know it overnight.