Home Projects What does overruling Roe v. Wade mean for Idaho?

What does overruling Roe v. Wade mean for Idaho?

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Samuel Alito writes in an initial majority draft circulated inside the court.

On May 2, POLITICO published an initial majority opinion draft suggesting that the Supreme Court is working to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case from 1973 that legalized abortion in the United States.

According to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade. If the Supreme Court were to overturn this monumental decision, abortion policy would be dependent on the policies of the individual states.

What does this mean for Idaho?

Idaho is one out of 13 states where abortion would immediately become illegal. In 2020, Governor Brad Little signed a law that would make performing an abortion procedure a crime for doctors in the event that Roe v. Wade was overturned at a federal level. According to Idaho code, anyone who performs an abortion could face two to five years in prison.

It also states that those who perform an abortion procedure illegally “shall be suspended by the appropriate licensing board for a minimum of six [6] months upon a first offense and shall be permanently revoked upon a subsequent offense.”

In certain cases of rape, incest or if the mother is at harm, abortions would still be legal under this code.

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo tweeted on May 3: “States should have the ability to protect the right to life and the rights of the unborn. The deliberate leak of a draft opinion is a brazen attempt to intimidate Supreme Court justices into ignoring the rule of law and undermines the institution of the Court.”

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo tweets on May 3 about the draft. (Screenshot taken May 4)
Idaho Senator Mike Crapo tweets on May 3 about the draft. (Screenshot taken May 4)

Riley Adams, a sophomore studying English believes that this will be a good change.

“I don’t think getting rid of abortions really solves all of the issues,” Adams said. “I think there still would need to be lots of education and funding of birth control. But death is never the answer to other problems, so I think this will be good for Idaho and other states.”

Here are 10 important passages from the draft opinion:

1. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision…”

2. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

3. “In the years prior to [Roe v. Wade], about a third of the States had liberalized their laws, but Roe abruptly ended that political process. It imposed the same highly restrictive regime on the entire Nation, and it effectively struck down the abortion laws of every single State. ….. [I]t represented the exercise of raw judicial power’… and it sparked a national controversy that has embittered our political culture for a half-century.”

4. “The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions. On the contrary, an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.”

5. “In some States, voters may believe that the abortion right should be more even more [sic] extensive than the right Casey and Roe recognized. Voters in other States may wish to impose tight restrictions based on their belief that abortion destroys an ‘unborn human being.’… Our nation’s historical understanding of ordered liberty does not prevent the people’s elected representatives from deciding how abortion should be regulated.”

6. “Roe certainly did not succeed in ending division on the issue of abortion. On the contrary, Roe “inflamed’ a national issue that has remained bitterly divisive for the past half-century … This Court’s inability to end debate on the issue should not have been surprising. This Court cannot bring about the permanent resolution of a rancorous national controversy simply by dictating a settlement and telling the people to move on. Whatever influence the Court may have on public attitudes must stem from the strength of our opinions, not an attempt to exercise ‘raw judicial power.”

7. “On many other occasions, this Court has overruled important constitutional decisions. … Without these decisions, American constitutional law as we know it would be unrecognizable, and this would be a different country.”

8. “Casey described itself as calling both sides of the national controversy to resolve their debate, but in doing so, Casey necessarily declared a winning side … The Court short-circuited the democratic process by closing it to the large number of Americans who dissented in any respect from Roe. Together, Roe and Casey represent an error that cannot be allowed to stand.”

9. “We do not pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to today’s decision overruling Roe and Casey. And even if we could foresee what will happen, we would have no authority to let that knowledge influence our decision. We can only do our job, which is to interpret the law, apply longstanding principles of stare decisis, and decide this case accordingly. We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

10. “We have long recognized, however, that stare decisis is ‘not an inexorable command,’ and it ‘is at its weakest when we interpret the Constitution.’ It has been said that it is sometimes more important that an issue ‘be settled than that it be settled right.’ But when it comes to the interpretation of the Constitution— the ‘great charter of our liberties,’ which was meant ‘to endure through a long lapse of ages,’ we place a high value on having the matter ‘settled right.'”


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