Justice Anthony Kennedy recently announced his plans to retire at the end of July. He was the swing vote on previous cases that tackled abortion rights, keeping them valid. Legal experts say that his departure might affect previous landmark decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1973, the nation’s highest court ruled on Roe v. Wade. It is one of the most famous decided cases because it gave women the constitutional right to abortion. Then, in 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey emerged. It centered on a Pennsylvania law that required spouses to present a permit before the wife could have an abortion. Kennedy was the swing vote during the proceedings, therefore keeping the Roe case intact.
Legal experts say that Kennedy’s departure might negatively affect the status of Roe. Carol Sanger, a professor from Columbia Law School, said that the court might immediately overturn the case if ever an anti-abortion justice replaces Kennedy.
David Cohen from Drexel University Law School also shared that the remaining members of the Supreme Court might use pending abortion cases to cite Roe in future proceedings and this might give them more chances to attack legal abortion.
After the 2010 elections, around 400 state laws were approved to restrict abortion as stated by Planned Parenthood’s national director of state policy and advocacy Rachel Sussman. The overturn of Roe might give states the power to set their parameters regarding abortion and its accessibility individually.
If the courts eventually decide on scrapping the Roe case, it might also affect the Casey decision. Gillian Metzger, a professor from Columbia Law, commented that those who seek abortion might have difficulties on their end to exercise the right that the two cases established.
Kennedy served the Supreme Court for more than thirty years. Then-President Ronald Reagan nominated him, and Kennedy started serving the court in 1988. Not only did he favor on abortion cases, but also the issue of recognizing same-sex marriage. He also advocated the Affordable Care Act along with the liberals, which made the federal government shell out tax subsidies for insurance under the Obamacare program.