State lawmakers file brief urging Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade as it risks full reversal

State lawmakers file brief urging Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade as it risks full reversal
Image by Mark Reinstein, Shutterstock

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which deals with a restrictive Mississippi abortion law. Abortion rights defenders fear that the High Court — where Republican-nominated justices now have a 6-3 majority — will overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that, in effect, legalized abortion nationwide. And almost 900 state legislators are encouraging the justices to uphold Roe and strike down the Mississippi law.

The legislators, journalist Adam Edelman reports for NBC News, made their argument in favor of Roe in a legal brief filed this week by a group called the State Innovation Exchange.

"Of the amicus brief's 897 signatory lawmakers, all were Democrats with the exception of two independents," Edelman explains. "Legislators from every state except Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Wyoming signed. The brief's organizers believe it's the largest-ever collection of state legislators to have signed a brief in a Supreme Court case related to abortion access."

Edelman notes that the brief "argued that the Supreme Court has a responsibility to uphold the legal precedents set by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey — the two main decisions that legalized abortion in the United States — which they maintain provided pregnant people the constitutional right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy free from state interference."

The brief states, "If the Court fails to uphold the rule of law and precedent, and instead guts or overturns Roe, there will be disastrous consequences for women seeking abortions, as well as for their families. Legislators from states at risk of banning abortion in the absence or gutting of Roe have an interest in protecting Roe so abortion remains legal in their state."

The Mississippi law bans most abortions after about 15 weeks.

According to Jennifer Driver, senior director of reproductive rights for the State Innovation Exchange, "The justices will be answering one key question in this case: Are pre-viability bans unconstitutional? The answer is yes, and decades of precedent have already established that. This brief demonstrates that nearly 1000 state legislators are fighting back to say this court must maintain 50 years of precedent."

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