Supreme Court adds another opinion issuance day this week as justices prepare rulings in high-profile cases

A decision that could determine the fates of abortion access and bodily autonomy is imminent

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 22 June 2022 18:14
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The US Supreme Court has added a third opinion issuance day this week as justices near the end of their term and prepare to issue rulings in 13 remaining cases, including a decision that could strike down abortion access and rulings in cases involving Second Amendment rights, the climate crisis and religion in public schools.

Justices will release opinions on Thursday 23 June as well as Friday 24 June, the court has announced.

The court will release opinions on its website in 10-minute interverals beginning at 10am ET on those days.

Opinions typically are released in reverse-ranking order – e.g., opinions to be released on those days that are written by the newest justice on the court, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, would come first, followed by those written by Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and so on.

Rulings from Chief Justice John Roberts typically are published last.

A decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization is expected to overturn the landmark ruling in 1973’s Roe v Wade and its affirming ruling in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v Casey, cases that affirmed constitutional protections for abortion care.

A leaked draft opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito indicates that the high court’s conservative majority is prepared to overturn the decades-long precedent, which could quickly or immediately make abortion illegal in more than a dozen states and force the closure of dozens of reproductive health clinics.

The Dobbs case involves a Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy; the Roe decision affirmed constitutional protections for abortion care up to 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy, while the Casey ruling sought to prohibit states from placing an “undue burden” on abortion access. Lawyers for the state asked the court to consider whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”

On 3 December, 2021, two days after the justices heard oral arguments in the Dobbs case, the justices convened for their regularly scheduled weekly conference for preliminary votes on recent cases.

Justices Alito, Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – the latter three of whom were appointed by Donald Trump – voted “no” to the central question in the case, according to Politico, which published the leaked draft opinion that was dated 10 February.

The court’s investigation into the draft’s leak is ongoing.

The public does not know what opinions will be released ahead of time, nor how many will be released on any given day. When an “R” number is added to the list of opinions released that day, justices have signalled that they are done releasing their rulings for the day.

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