Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Is SCOTUS ready to cross public opinion on Roe?

By Joel Mathis, The Week

Americans don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll indicates that 60 percent of U.S. adults want to see the abortion-rights precedent upheld, and a slightly higher number — 65 percent — believe that Texas’ new anti-abortion law should be overturned. The results of the new poll aren’t an outlier: Pew Research has been tracking the question for nearly 30 years and has consistently found that roughly two-thirds of Americans oppose completely undoing Roe.

Two-thirds of Supreme Court justices might have other ideas. While the Texas law appears to be in trouble — mostly because it was written to evade judicial scrutiny — justices next month will hear a Mississippi case in which the state explicitly seeks to overturn Roe’s precedent. Given how much abortion has loomed over Supreme Court nomination battles in recent decades, it’s easy to conclude the court’s 6-3 conservative supermajority was manufactured specifically for this purpose.

Conservatives will and do argue that Roe is a bad precedent and should be overturned. But if that ends up being the case, justices will be going against another longstanding, albeit informal precedent: that the court doesn’t usually get too far away from public opinion on big cases that upend society’s status quo.

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