Last week, the Supreme Court's overturned established law and ruled that, since corporations are people and money is speech, corporations can run commercials for their favorde candidates. Legal scholars worry that Roe v. Wade is next on conservatives' agenda.
Pro-choice advocates are worried about two things when it comes to the Supreme Court's ruling in this case: the court's willingness to abandon decades of established legal precedent (stare decisis); and the court's decision to pick a legal question not explicitly presented to them by the case to overturn a law they'd apparently already made up their minds about. These very things are, when it comes down to it, exactly what anti-abortion advocates are cheering.
Josh Gerstein gets them all on the record in Politico:
"Yesterday's Roberts court decision, which exhibited a stunning disregard for settled law of decades' standing, is terrifying to those of us who care deeply about the constitutional protections the court put in place for women's access to abortion," said Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "We are deeply concerned. ... Yesterday's decision shows the court will reach out to take an opportunity to wholesale reverse a precedent the hard right has never liked."
"It is worrisome beyond the direct impact of yesterday's ruling on election law," said, Jessica Arons, the director of the Women's Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress. "It's certainly cause for concern."
Anti-abortion advocates used the opportunity — again — to compare abortion to slavery.
"Where they disagree with the precedent and they think it's wrong constitutionally, they're not afraid to say it," said the American Center for Law and Justice's Jay Sekulow, an attorney who has argued church-state and campaign finance issues before the justices. "Where they think the court got it wrong, they're trying to correct that, and from my perspective that's a good thing." An unthinking embrace of precedent would have protracted the effect of widely reviled rulings like the Dred Scott decision on slavery and the Plessy v. Ferguson decision upholding separate-but-equal treatment of the races, Sekulow said.
Not that Sekulow doesn't love stare decisis when it works in his politically conservative favor, by the way.
Chief Justice Roberts used to love stare decisis, too. When he was up for confirmation, he sang its praises.
"It's settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis," Roberts said then. "To avoid an arbitrary discretion in the judges, they need to be bound down by rules and precedents. ... I do think that it is a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent. Precedent plays an important role in promoting stability and evenhandedness."
Those days are, apparently, long gone.
Court watchers agree that the Roberts court seems to be more and more willing to take an activist stance on touchy political issues long since considered decided, including abortion, LGBT rights, the separation of church and state and the death penalty. But just because getting rid of the former three and making the latter easier for states to put into practice are part of the Republican Party platform doesn't mean that the justices are politically conservative or anything. They're just strictly interpreting the Constitution and established precedent — as long as said document and said precedents conform to their political opinions.
And here you probably were just worried about Chevron running commercials for Sarah Palin in 2012.
Activists See Threat To Roe Precedent [Politico]
Related: Democracy, Now Brought To You By Coke And Pepsi [Huffington Post]