By Summer Delaney
President Trump plans to announce his Supreme Court Justice nominee next week, ushering in a new era in the nation’s highest court that could shape and decide legal precedents for decades.
But in addition to hearing new cases, the appointment of a new justice raises the question of whether past decisions might be reversed. One potential precedent that could be overturned is Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights decision.
In 1973, the Supreme Court held that a “right to privacy” exists in the Constitution and that this right protects a woman’s choice to have an abortion but must be balanced against the government’s interest in protecting life.
That balance changed as pregnancy advanced. In the first trimester, the woman had an unfettered right to choose; in the third trimester, stronger restrictions were allowed as long as the mother’s health was protected.
When Roe v. Wade was decided, abortion was legal in most cases in only four states. But some supporters feel the decision may have tried to do too much too fast. In 1992, the Supreme Court decided in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that states could impose tougher restrictions on abortion even earlier than the third trimester while still protecting the mother’s health.
So with a new Supreme Court justice joining the court, will Roe v. Wade be overturned?
Before running for president, Trump had identified as being pro-abortion-rights. But during the campaign, he said he was antiabortion and said he would appoint justices to overturn Roe v. Wade if elected.
Trump’s Supreme Court pick will be replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who was part of the court’s conservative arm. But replacing him with another conservative judge won’t change the ratio, especially because Justice Anthony Kennedy’s position on abortion through the years has been hard to predict.
Across this bitterly divided country, some expect that new Supreme Court appointments will ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade. But sometimes a president’s justice selection, and the seated justices themselves, defy expectations.
But when it comes to Roe v. Wade and its uncertain future, at least you can say: Now I Get It.