WASHINGTON >> More than 200 Republican members of Congress today asked the Supreme Court to consider overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established a woman’s right to an abortion, in a brief urging the justices to uphold a Louisiana law that severely restricts access to the procedure.
Roughly 80% of the Republicans in Congress — 39 senators and 166 House members — and two centrist House Democrats signed the amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief in the case of June Medical Services LLC v. Gee. They also asked the justices to consider overturning another landmark abortion ruling in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
“The court has exercised that judgment to overrule precedent in over 230 cases throughout its history,” the lawmakers wrote. “Forty-six years after Roe was decided, it remains a radically unsettled precedent: Two of the seven justices who originally joined the majority subsequently repudiated it in whole or in part, and virtually every abortion decision since has been closely divided.”
The court is expected to hear the June Medical case this spring, and a ruling is likely in June. At issue is a 2014 Louisiana law, passed but never enacted, that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Only one doctor in Louisiana has been able to meet the requirement, challengers of the law say, and they argue that its sole purpose is to make access to abortion more difficult.
The case is certain to inject the divisive politics of abortion into the 2020 presidential race. President Donald Trump ran and won in 2016 partly on a promise to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe, and June Medical is the court’s first case on abortion since Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both appointed by Trump, joined the court.
The sheer number of those signing the brief suggests the importance that Republicans place on restricting abortion rights and telegraphing to their core supporters that they are serious about doing so. The signers include the top three House Republicans.
But Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, did not sign. Nor did several Republicans facing challenging re-election contests in politically competitive states, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona.