Justice Clarence Thomas has again gone on record Stating his belief that Roe v. Wade – the 1973 ruling allowing almost unlimited abortion – should be overturned. Justice Thomas referred to Roe v. Wade as an “Incorrect Decision,” in a new opinion.
In a decision at the beginning of the week, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling on a case unrelated to the abortion issue, but one that nonetheless could end up having a dramatic impact on Roe v. Wade. The ruling was authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and gave four examples of cases that in the future could be overturned. The ruling also explained why there is actually precedent for overturning precedent.
The justices, in a 6-3 decision, overturned a 1972 Supreme Court case in ruling that the Sixth Amendment requires unanimous verdicts. The case involved a Louisiana man who was convicted of murder on a 10-2 verdict.
Much of the discussion among the justices focused on the legal doctrine of stare decisis, a Latin term meaning “to stand by things decided.” In essence, it’s the doctrine of precedent and is often discussed when the Supreme Court overturns a past case.
“The doctrine of stare decisis does not mean, of course, that the Court should never overrule erroneous precedents,” Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion. “All Justices now on this Court agree that it is sometimes appropriate for the Court to overrule erroneous decisions. Indeed, in just the last few Terms, every current Member of this Court has voted to overrule multiple constitutional precedents.”
Kavanaugh went on to write:
“Some of the Court’s most notable and consequential decisions have entailed overruling precedent.”
Kavanaugh then directly referenced Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, a 1992 case in which the justices overturned much of the Roe framework but upheld legalized abortion.
Justice Clarence THomas is a longtime opponent of Roe v. Wade and in the Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, he was part of the minority opinion, meaning that he would have overturned Roe v. Wade at that time.
Justice Clarence Thomas gave his own concurring opinion and also listed three “incorrect decisions” that were based on an incorrect interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The three cases Justice Clarence Thomas listed were Obergefell v. Hodges, Dred Scott v. Sanford, and Roe v. Wade.
This isn’t the first time Justice Thomas has indicated Roe needs to go.
Last year Thomas hinted at his willingness to overturn the infamous abortion ruling Roe v. Wade on Monday in an opinion about a gun rights case. he questioned the high court’s tendencies to lean on precedent for its decisions.
“When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” Thomas wrote in his decision.
“In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course,” Thomas wrote.
Recent studies show that public opinion is on the side of the pro-life movement. A 2019 Gallup Poll found that the majority of Americans are opposed to abortion. In fact, 60% of Americans think most or all abortions should be made illegal. The Gallup Poll is consistent with other polls on the pro life/abortion topic. Other recent polls have revealed similar findings.
A recent survey showed that the majority of Americans think that bans on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected are not to restrictive, according to The Hill. The Gallup Poll also found that fifty percent of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong, and another poll out of Harvard University found that only six percent of Americans think abortions should be legal “up until the birth of the child,” with only eight percent stating that they should be permitted up to the third trimester. The Harvard University poll also found that a majority of Americans want the egregious Roe v. Wade case revisited by the Supreme Court. Last year 207 members of Congress urged the Supreme Court to revisit the Roe v. Wade decision.