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58 Georgia lawmakers ask U.S. Supreme Court to uphold ‘Roe v. Wade’ abortion ruling

By David Pendered

With the fate of abortion rights and the “Roe v. Wade”ruling on the line, 58 Georgia lawmakers have joined a total of 896 state lawmakers nationwide who have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold abortion rights.

The nine Supreme Court justices who are slated to hear the Mississippi abortion case are: Front row, left to right: Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Back row, left to right: Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. (File/ Photo by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

The brief signed by Georgia lawmakers, both men and women and all Democrats, contends that state lawmakers are required by case law to protect the constitutional rights of “all those within their jurisdiction.”

The brief further clarifies political debates over abortion likely to unfold in Georgia’s 2022 election season – which is well underway.

Signer Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) is running for attorney general against incumbent Attorney General Chris Carr. Carr, a Republican seeking reelection, has already signed another brief, which also has been signed by AGs from 17 other states, that calls on the Supreme Court to vacate Roe.

Signer Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta) is running for secretary of state against incumbent Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican. The office doesn’t have direct say over abortion matters.

Meantime, a candidate for lieutenant governor, Senate Pro Tem Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), has said he’s drafting anti-abortion legislation. Miller’s said the proposal is to be patterned after a Texas law the Supreme Court allowed to become law in September. Texas’ law authorizes private citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. The court’s unsigned opinion said it addresses only “procedural questions” in the lawsuit challenging the law, and does not address the constitutionality of the law.

The court on Dec. 1 is to hear oral arguments in the case from Mississippi, which involves a state law that bans abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.

Justices have agreed to consider one question: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” The issue of viability is at the heart of the Roe ruling.

The court’s options have been described as: vacating Roe; striking down the Mississippi law; or crafting language to allow the Mississippi law to stand while leaving much of Roe intact.

The brief submitted by the 896 state lawmakers begins with these lines:

  • “The constitutional precepts which State Legislators must protect include the principle enunciated by this Court, as firmly encompassed by the right to privacy, that a woman has the right to decide to terminate a pre-viability pregnancy without undue governmental interference….
  • “As a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution, and one that strikes at the heart of ordered liberty and individual autonomy, a woman’s right to decide whether to terminate a pre-viability pregnancy should be insulated from the rhetoric and interests of groups whose sole purpose is to undermine Roe and eliminate the fundamental rights enunciated in that case….”

The brief presents four arguments in favor of upholding the Roe ruling:

  1. “This court’s precedent recognizes that the Constitution guarantees each person the right to choose whether to continue her pre-viability pregnancy;
  2. “If this court fails to uphold Roe and Casey [a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that upheld Roe: Planned Parenthood of Se. Pa. v. Casey] in their entirety, it will embolden state legislatures to further engage in symbolic politics at the expense of real priorities;
  3. “Pre-viability bans would upend the already precarious patchwork of abortion care nationwide, also jeopardizing access in states that protect abortion rights;
  4. “Failure by this court to uphold the rule of law and precedent will be disastrous for women seeking abortions and their families.”

The lawmakers’ friend-of-the-court brief was submitted Sept. 20, court records show. The brief was among a total of 50 amicus briefs filed the same day.

The 58 lawmakers who signed the brief, in the order in which they appear on the brief, are:

Georgia Senate

  • Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro);
  • Sen. Sen. Sonya Halpern (D-Atlanta);
  • Sally Harrell (D-Atlanta);
  • Sen. Lester George Jackson III (D-Savannah);
  • Sen. Harold Jones II (D-Augusta);
  • Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta);
  • Sen. Nikki Merritt (D-Grayson);
  • Sen. Nan Grogan Orrock (D-Atlanta);
  • Sen. Elena C. Parent (D-Atlanta).

Georgia House of Representatives

  • Rep. Erick Allen (D-Smyrna);
  • Rep. Teri Anulewicz (D-Smyrna);
  • Rep. Debra Bazemore (D-South Fulton);
  • Rep. Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain);
  • Rep. James Beverly (D-Macon)
  • Rep. William Boddie (D-East Point);
  • Rep. Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta);
  • Rep. Rhonda Burnough (D-Riverdale);
  • Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta);
  • Rep. Jasmine Clark, PhD (D-Lilburn);
  • Rep. Viola Davis (D-Stone Mountain);
  • Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge);
  • Rep. David Dreyer (D-Atlanta);
  • Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Atlanta);
  • Rep. Becky Evans (D-Atlanta);
  • Rep. Gloria Butler (Butler actually is a senator, Democrat, from Atlanta; the brief lists her as a state representative);
  • Rep. Gloria Frazier (D-Hephzibah);
  • Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens);
  • Rep. Carl W. Gilliard (D-Garden City);
  • Rep. Betsy Holland (D-Atlanta);
  • Rep. El-Mahdi Holly (D-Stockbridge);
  • Rep. CaMia Hopson (D-Albany);
  • Rep. Shelly Hutchinson (D-Snellville);
  • Rep. Kim Jackson (Jackson actually is a senator, Democrat, from Stone Mountain; the brief lists her as a state represenative)
  • Rep. Donzella James (James actually is a senator, Democrat, from Atlanta; the brief lists her as a state representative);
  • Rep. Emanuel D. Jones (Jones actually is a senator, Democrat, from Decatur; the brief lists him as a state represenative);
  • Rep. Sheila Jones (D-Atlanta);
  • Rep. Angelika Kausche (D-Johns Creek);
  • Rep. Darshun Kendrick (D-Lithonia);
  • Rep. Marvin Lim (D-Norcross);
  • Rep. Derek Mallow (D-Savannah);
  • Rep. Dewey L. McClain (D-Lawrenceville);
  • Rep. Donna McLeod (D-Lawrenceville);
  • Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain);
  • Rep. Rebecca Mitchell, DVM, PhD (D-Snellville);
  • Rep. Angela Moore (D-Decatur);
  • Rep. Beth Moore (D-Peachtree Corners);
  • Rep. Sheila C. Nelson (D-Augusta);
  • Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta);
  • Rep. Miriam Paris (D-Macon);
  • Rep. Shea Roberts (D-Atlanta);
  • Rep. Mary Robichaux (D-Roswell);
  • Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta);
  • Rep. Sandra G. Scott (D-Rex);
  • Rep. Rhonda Taylor (D-Conyers);
  • Rep. Erica Thomas (D-Austell);
  • Rep. David Wilkerson (Minority Whip) (D-Powder Springs);
  • Rep. Mary Frances Williams (D-Marietta);
  • Rep. Matthew Wilson (D-Brookhaven).

 

 

David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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