Mississippi Abortion Case is a Long Time Coming for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Avowed Critic of Roe v. Wade

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas participates in taking a new “family photo” with his fellow justices at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Judge Clarence Thomas said at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991 that he hadn’t given that much thought to whether Roe v. Wade was correctly decided.

But Justice Clarence Thomas took only months to reach a conclusion: The landmark 1973 ruling guaranteeing a woman’s right to abortion should be discarded.

“The power of a woman to abort her unborn child” is not a liberty protected by the Constitution, said a dissenting opinion from four members of the court, including Thomas.

Thus began three decades of official Thomas opposition to the notion of a constitutionally protected right to abortion.

It will reach its zenith Wednesday, when Thomas and the most conservative Supreme Court in decades will consider a restrictive Mississippi abortion law that opponents and advocates alike agree is almost impossible to square with Roe and the precedents that have flowed from it.

The review coincides as well with something of a high-water mark for the 73-year-old Thomas, now the court’s longest-serving member. He sits on a court with more justices who think like him than at any other point in his career.

These days, his colleagues offer unprecedented deference. After years of not asking questions at oral arguments, Thomas this term has asked the first question in every hearing. That is because no one jumps in until he has finished his low-key inquiries.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Robert Barnes

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