“Claeys and Girgis establish that a Dobbs “middle ground” would be no such thing. It would have to reject every part of Casey’s and Roe’s legal tests, and no part of it could rest on either precedent. The Court can either invalidate Mississippi’s law under Casey and Roe, or consign them to the ash heap of history.”
In the aftermath of last week’s outrageous leak of Justice Alito’s February 10 draft opinion in Dobbs, CNN reported that its sources say that Chief Justice Roberts, while purporting not to overturn Roe v. Wade, “is willing, however, to uphold the Mississippi law that would ban abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy.” As I restated last week, I do not see how anything other than rank sophistry could support a conclusion that a 15-week ban is consistent with Roe, and I therefore cannot believe that the Chief is inclined to embrace it, much less that he would have any chance of inducing any of his colleagues to do so. But we shall see, I suppose.
In this First Things piece, Princeton professor Robert P. George neatly summarizes why no middle path exists between overturning Roe and invalidating the Mississippi law. Professor George draws on the more extensive essays by law professors Eric Claeys and Sherif Girgis that I have previously highlighted:
Scalia Law School Professor Eric Claeys has explained why the viability line was essential to Roe and Casey. As Claeys points out, both were “overbreadth” decisions. Such decisions invalidate a law on the ground that too many of the law’s potential applications would be unconstitutional—whether or not its application to the parties in the case at hand would be.
Thus, the Roe Court didn’t focus on how early or late in pregnancy Jane Roe had hoped to abort. Her own timing was irrelevant because the Texas law at issue was overbroad. Why? Because too many of its potential applications would block a pre-viability abortion.