A coalition of 270 members from both houses of Congress filed a legal brief on Thursday, Jan. 2, urging the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to an abortion.
The brief signed by 39 senators and 168 representatives with mostly Republicans except Democratic Reps. Collin Peterson and Dan Lipinski who has come under fire for his anti-abortion stance. The lawmakers argued that the abortion case law is inconsistent.
“Forty-six years after Roe was decided, it remains a radically unsettled precedent: two of the seven justices who originally joined the majority subsequently repudiated it in whole or in part, and virtually every abortion decision since has been closely divided,” the lawmakers wrote.
The members were writing in support of a Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, arguing that the requirement is necessary because Louisiana clinics are rife with safety violations.
“There is an inherent conflict of interest between abortion providers and their patients,” they wrote. “It is impossible for abortion clinics and doctors to share or represent the interests of their patients when they seek to eliminate the very regulations designed to protect their patients’ health and safety.”
Critics, by contrast, said the requirement is meant to force abortion clinics to close.
Citing the Supreme Court’s 1992 Casey decision and other subsequent cases, lawmakers argued that abortion rules are confusing, subject to constant change and said it’s time for the court to reconsider the legal underpinnings of Roe v. Wade.
“These incessant retrenchments show that Roe has been substantially undermined by subsequent authority, a principal factor the court considers when deciding whether to overrule precedent,” the brief read. “Casey clearly did not settle the abortion issue, and it is time for the court to take it up again.”
One hundred and ninety-seven members of Congress, mostly Democrats including Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, as well was Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Jerry Nadler signed an opposing brief, arguing that Roe should remain a good law, according to the Fox News.
The Supreme Court in 2016 struck down an almost identical law in Texas that drastically reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law in Louisiana and the Supreme Court barred enforcement of the law in February 2019 because of continued litigation. The high court will hear arguments on March 4.