Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments regarding the Texas 6-week abortion ban that’s enforced by citizens, not the state. The stakes are extremely high: Current legal precedent means that states cannot ban abortion before fetal viability, which is different for every pregnancy but typically about 22 to 24 weeks, and even tired people on Monday mornings can see that 6 weeks is well before 22 weeks. There is a different Supreme Court abortion case on a Mississippi 15-week ban being heard on December 1, and 15 weeks is also well before viability. It sure seems like the court is setting itself up to appear “moderate” by blocking the 6-week ban and upholding the 15-week ban.
To be clear, the court saying either of these laws is OK would render its abortion precedents, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, completely meaningless. With the Supreme Court’s refusal to block the Texas law before it went into effect, it has already nullified Roe in Texas, the country’s second most populous state.
So what’s happening in court today? Chief Justice John Roberts started off the session by letting people today is the 30th anniversary of Clarence Thomas formally being seated, which is very bleak indeed, given that Thomas has for years been openly calling for the overturning of the abortion cases, Roe and Casey. There are two lawsuits being heard: the first from providers, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, and the second from the Department of Justice, US v. Texas. The architect of Texas SB8, Jonathan Mitchell, will defend his evil creation while representing the state of Texas in the second case.
Here are some things we noticed during arguments:
Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone gave a hypothetical in which he called an abortion banned under SB8 a “late-term abortion” which is an absolutely wild moving of goalposts. “Late-term abortion” is not a medical term, it’s made up, but anti-abortion activists typically use it to refer to abortions after 20 weeks so suggesting that an abortion after 6 weeks is “late-term” is beyond.