Real MOORS Talk about the Supreme Court Decision overturned after 40 years: A divided U.S. Supreme Court jettisoned a 40-year-old ruling May 13, raising concerns about the future of other long-standing precedents.
The “decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in dissent.
But the reasoning of the decision could reverberate well beyond the reach of state courts to include the viability of the court’s abortion protections and the authority of administrative agencies.
A decision overturning court protections for abortion and other controversial conservative targets was feared by liberal court watchers when conservatives fortified their majority with Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The ruling split the justices along ideological lines, with the court’s conservatives voting to overrule the precedent.
“The division between the five-justice conservative majority and four-justice liberal dissent can be seen as a potential preview of the role of stare decisis as to other constitutional precedents,” said Tim Droske, of Dorsey & Whitney’s appellate group.
Justice Clarence Thomas’s “summary of the majority’s justification for its holding could readily be adapted by the conservative majority to other precedents,” Droske said.
Thomas wrote that the court’s earlier ruling was “irreconcilable with our constitutional structure,” and that stare decisis—the legal doctrine that courts should generally stand by earlier rulings even if they disagree with them— is “not an inexorable command.”
Breyer called the court’s willingness to overturn the earlier decision “only because five Members of a later Court come to agree with earlier dissenters on a difficult legal question” dangerous.