Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization

Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, No. 19-1392, 597 U.S. ___ (2022), is a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the court held that the Constitution of the United States does not confer a right to abortion. The court's decision overruled both Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), giving individual states the full power to regulate any aspect of abortion not protected by federal law.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
Argued December 1, 2021
Decided June 24, 2022
Full case nameThomas E. Dobbs, State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health, et al. v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, et al.
Docket no.19-1392
Citations597 U.S. (more)
2022 WL 2276808; 2022 U.S. LEXIS 3057
ArgumentOral argument
DecisionOpinion
Case history
Prior
  • Summary judgment granted, Jackson Women's Health Org. v. Currier, 349 F. Supp. 3d 536 (S.D. Miss. 2018)
  • Affirmed sub nom. Jackson Women's Health Org. v. Dobbs, 945 F.3d 265 (5th Cir. 2019)
  • Cert. granted, 141 S. Ct. 2619 (2021)
Questions presented
Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.
Holding
The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.
Court membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
Clarence Thomas · Stephen Breyer
Samuel Alito · Sonia Sotomayor
Elena Kagan · Neil Gorsuch
Brett Kavanaugh · Amy Coney Barrett
Case opinions
MajorityAlito, joined by Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett
ConcurrenceThomas
ConcurrenceKavanaugh
ConcurrenceRoberts (in judgment)
DissentBreyer, Sotomayor, Kagan
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. XIV
Mississippi Code § 41-41-191 (2018)
This case overturned a previous ruling or rulings
Roe v. Wade (1973)
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)

The case concerned the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi state law that banned most abortion operations after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Mississippi law was written by a Christian legal organization, Alliance Defending Freedom, with the specific intent to provoke a legal battle leading to the overturning of Roe. Jackson Women's Health Organization, Mississippi's only abortion clinic, had sued Thomas E. Dobbs, state health officer with the Mississippi State Department of Health, in March 2018. Lower courts had prevented enforcement of the law with preliminary injunctions. The injunctions were based on the ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which had prevented states from banning abortion before fetal viability, generally within the first 24 weeks, on the basis that a woman's choice for abortion during that time is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The ideological shift of the Supreme Court during the Trump administration that culminated with the 2020 appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett[lower-alpha 1] made Dobbs a potential vehicle for social conservatives to challenge Roe.[3][4] Several states passed legislation, including trigger laws, to strictly regulate abortion should the newly conservative court overturn Roe. Dobbs gained more attention in the wake of legal battles over the Texas Heartbeat Act, enacted in May 2021, leading to near record-setting amicus curiae submissions. Oral arguments before the Supreme Court were held in December 2021. In May 2022, Politico published a leaked draft majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, which prompted more states to pass trigger laws. The leaked draft largely matched the final decision.

On June 24, 2022, the Court issued a decision that, by a vote of 6–3, reversed the lower court rulings. A smaller majority of five justices joined the opinion overturning Roe and Casey. The majority held that abortion is not a constitutional right as the Constitution does not mention it and its substantive right was not "deeply rooted" in the country's history, meaning that individual states have the authority to regulate access to abortion. Chief Justice John Roberts agreed with the judgment upholding the Mississippi law but did not join the majority in the opinion to overturn Roe and Casey.

Leading Republican politicians praised the decision, while leading Democrats and many international observers denounced it. Protests and counterprotests over the decision occurred in many U.S. cities and internationally, with polling indicating that 55% to 60% of the public disapproved of overturning Roe.[5]


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