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AG Merrick Garland said the Supreme Court dealt 'a devastating blow' to abortion rights overturning Roe v. Wade

·3 min read
Garland face
Attorney General Merrick GarlandAnna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland said the decision would be felt disproportionately by people of color.

  • DOJ plans to support federal efforts to protect and advance reproductive freedom, he said.

  • Garland was once nominated to the court, but Republicans refused to hold hearings or a vote.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday sharply condemned the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, saying the justices had dealt a "devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States" by eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion.

In a prepared statement, Garland stressed that the Justice Department disagreed with the decision and predicted that it "will have an immediate and irreversible impact on the lives of people across the country."

"And it will be greatly disproportionate in its effect – with the greatest burdens felt by people of color and those of limited financial means," he added.

Garland's comment came within hours of the Supreme Court overruling Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion after almost a half-century. The decision, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, is expected to lead to all but total bans on abortion in about half the states.

In the immediate aftermath of the ruling, Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reupped their calls for passing legislation to codify abortion rights. Garland on Friday said the Justice Department supports those legislative efforts and emphasized that the Supreme Court's decision would not eliminate the right of states to keep abortion legal within their borders.

"We recognize that traveling to obtain reproductive care may not be feasible in many circumstances," Garland said. "But under bedrock constitutional principles, women who reside in states that have banned access to comprehensive reproductive care must remain free to seek that care in states where it is legal."

Garland similarly said that states cannot limit access to Mifepristone, an FDA-approved medication that is used to bring about an abortion.

A former federal appellate judge, Garland also addressed how the Supreme Court had broken with its customary practice of heeding precedent in overturning Roe v. Wade. In "renouncing this fundamental right, which it had repeatedly recognized and reaffirmed, the court has upended the doctrine of stare decisis, a key pillar of the rule of law," he said.

Years before his confirmation to lead the Justice Department, Garland was nominated in 2016 to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, but Republicans refused to hold confirmation hearings or a vote. Garland then remained in the powerful US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

His confirmation would have flipped a Supreme Court seat from a Republican- to a Democrat-appointed justice.

But the Republicans' blockade on his nomination and Donald Trump's election in 2016 led to the conservatives instead expanding their majority on the Supreme Court.

In their dissenting opinion, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan attributed the Dodds decision directly to the changed composition of the Supreme Court.

"The court reverses today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this court has changed," they wrote.

Referring to the doctrine of heeding past decisions, the justices continued: "Stare decisis, this court has often said, 'contributes to the actual and perceived integrity of the judicial process' by ensuring that decisions are 'founded in the law rather than in the proclivities of individuals.' Today, the proclivities of individuals rule."

"The Court departs from its obligation to faithfully and impartially apply the law," they added. "We dissent."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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