By David Larson
The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the precedent surrounding abortion law in the United States that guaranteed women access to abortions through a constitutional right to privacy. Both the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 and the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case of 1992 were overturned.
The court ruled 6-3 to uphold a law banning abortions, with a 5-4 majority agreeing to overturn the Roe and Casey abortion precedents.
Judge Samuel Alito delivered the opinion, with Justices Thomas, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Coney Barrett joined with this opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a concurring opinion. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan filed dissenting opinions.
Both of North Carolina’s top legislature leaders — House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland; and Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham — vowed to fight to reinstate the abortion laws on the books, some of which were blocked by federal precedent in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Statements by both also indicated they have no plans for further abortion-related legislation before the end of the current session, which is likely to end in a matter of days.
Berger spokesperson Lauren Horsh told CJ that they have to ask Attorney General Josh Stein to seek action overturning prior court rulings that nullified state laws based on Roe and Casey. If he does not take this action, they said they are prepared to look at other options. A separate U.S. Supreme Court opinion, on Berger v. NAACP, decided on June 23 that North Carolina legislators could represent the state to defend state laws. This could become relevant if Stein refuses to work to reinstate the abortion laws in the state statutes.
Berger’s and Moore’s statements can be read below:
Moore’s full June 24, 2022, statement:
“Today’s decision from the United States Supreme Court is long overdue and a major win for protecting life!” Moore said in his statement. “The end of Roe v. Wade rightfully returns authority back to the states to determine abortion law. While I remain unequivocally pro-life, the short budget adjustment session does not afford us sufficient time to take up the issue. However, North Carolinians can rest assured that we are taking the necessary steps to ensure that current restrictions on the books will be enforced. North Carolinians can also expect pro-life protections to be a top priority of the legislature when we return to our normal legislative session in January.”
Berger’s full June 24, 2022, statement:
“The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs returns policy decisions regarding abortion to the states, which is where those decisions should be made. I remain committed to the right to life and protecting the unborn. North Carolina’s law banning abortions after 20 weeks is currently unenforceable. We will take immediate action to ensure North Carolina’s late-term abortion ban is reinstated. Senate Republicans will determine whether other steps are appropriate to strengthen our pro-life laws, but I do not anticipate legislative action prior to adjournment.”