Friday, June 24, 2022

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2022 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge U.S. Supreme Court overturns right to abortion in landmark decision
Photo by Jane Norman | States Newsroom
Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021. Justices inside heard arguments in a case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks that seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established abortion as a constitutional right.

The decision by six of the Court’s nine justices will allow each state to set its own abortion laws, leading to a patchwork of access throughout the country. The result is expected to be an uptick in the number of women traveling out of state for abortions, as well as unsafe abortions in states where the medical procedure will now be banned or heavily restricted.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a separate opinion concurring in the judgment.

“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Alito continued.

“That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.’”

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent in the case for himself, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

“With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent,” he wrote.

The new status of abortion access on a state-by-state basis, Breyer wrote , “says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

Breyer later added, “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.”

Twenty-two states have laws that would restrict when and how a patient can terminate a pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health and rights organization.

Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin are among the 10 states that have pre-Roe abortion bans that are now expected to take effect. Thirteen states — including Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee — have laws enacted since Roe that will be “triggered” by the court’s decision.

In March, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill that made it illegal for Arizona women to seek an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy — even if they became pregnant because they were raped.

Under Senate Bill 1164, doctors are prohibited from performing the procedure, even if the patient was a victim of incest or rape. Doctors in violation face a class 6 felony and revoked license. A class 6 felony comes with fines, probation and possible prison time between months and up to 5 years.

“In Arizona, we know there is immeasurable value in every life — including preborn life. I believe it is each state’s responsibility to protect them,” Ducey wrote in a signing letter.

Courts, however, may have to decide exactly what happens in Arizona since there are technically two laws on the books. One is from the late 1800s, when Arizona was still a territory, and it calls for mandatory prison time for abortion providers. The new law did not explicitly revoke the old law. Ducey and sponsors of the new law argue that the 2022 legislation takes precedence, but some anti-abortion groups argue that the more stringent territorial law is still in effect.

Abortion rights activists in Arizona reacted quickly, saying they would try to qualify a constitutional amendment protecting abortion for the fall ballot. Arizonans For Reproductive Freedom said they hope to collect at least 350,000 signatures by the July 7 deadline, less than two weeks away.

“GOP state legislators will cut off access to abortions in Arizona in the coming session when Roe is overturned,” said Dr. Victoria Fewell, an OB-GYN and Chair of Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom. “They are out of sync with the vast majority of Arizonans who believe that the decision to carry a pregnancy to term belongs to individuals, not the state. This constitutional amendment will also proactively protect access to lifesaving reproductive healthcare and ensure medical providers will not risk imprisonment for treating their patients.”

Because of the huge size of the state, Arizona will be deeply affected by the Supreme Court decision, said Honest Arizona, a progressive advocacy group. Patients will need to travel long distances to access abortion services in other states.

The decision “is the result of elected Republicans placing their reactionary ideology over the well-being of those they were elected to serve. Women in Arizona already face life-threatening prohibitions to acquiring a medically necessary abortion,” the organization said in a statement after the court decision was released. “In a post-Roe Arizona, women, particularly women of color, will have to overcome the highest barriers in the nation to getting an abortion, the financial burden of (acquiring) care will rise, and their doctors will be made into criminals for providing medical care.”

A dozen states, including Maine, Maryland, Nevada and Washington, have laws that would protect abortion access up to the point of viability, usually 22 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

Colorado, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Oregon and Vermont have laws that protect abortion access throughout a pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Thomas targets birth control, same-sex marriage

Justice Thomas wrote his own concurring opinion, arguing that since the court has overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, which was grounded in the 14th Amendment and the due process clause, other cases that have been rooted in the same right to privacy could all be reconsidered.

Those include:

  • The Griswold v. Connecticut case from 1965 that said states couldn’t bar married couples from making private decisions about birth control use.
  • The Lawrence v. Texas case from 2003 that said states couldn’t criminalize consensual sexual relations between same-sex partners.
  • The Obergefell v. Hodges case from 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage.

“For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas also wrote of the Dobbs case that “The resolution of this case is thus straightforward. Because the Due Process Clause does not secure any substantive rights, it does not secure a right to abortion.”

Reaction pours in

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the case to the Supreme Court, rebuked the Republican-nominated justices for ending the right to an abortion.

“The Court’s opinion delivers a wrecking ball to the constitutional right to abortion, destroying the protections of Roe v. Wade, and utterly disregarding the one in four women in America who make the decision to end a pregnancy,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“Utter chaos lies ahead, as some states race to the bottom with criminal abortion bans, forcing people to travel across multiple state lines and, for those without means to travel, carry their pregnancies to term — dictating their health, lives, and futures. Today’s decision will ignite a public health emergency,” Northup continued.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, an anti-abortion group, celebrated the decision, while its president called for “an entirely new pro-life movement” to begin.

“Today’s outcome raises the stakes of the midterm elections. Voters will debate and decide this issue and they deserve to know where every candidate in America stands,” Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. “Federal as well as state lawmakers must commit to being consensus builders who advocate for the most ambitious protections possible.”

Mississippi ban

The court heard two hours of arguments in December in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which arose after Mississippi enacted a law that banned the vast majority of abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar, who argued on behalf of the federal government as a “friend of the Court,” said that the “real-world effects of overruling Roe” and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision that affirmed the right to an abortion “would be severe and swift.”

“Nearly half of the states already have or are expected to enact bans on abortion at all stages of pregnancy, many without exceptions for rape or incest,” Prelogar said. “Women who are unable to travel hundreds of miles to gain access to legal abortion will be required to continue with their pregnancies and give birth, with profound effects on their bodies, their health and the course of their lives.”

Mississippi Solicitor General Scott G. Stewart argued the nine justices should not only uphold Mississippi’s 2018 law, which had yet to go into effect, but overturn the two cases that have kept abortion access legal for nearly 50 years.

“Roe versus Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey haunt our country,” he said. “They’ve poisoned the law.”

Abortion rights history

The Supreme Court first ruled that a pregnant person has a constitutional right to abortion in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that stemmed from a Texas woman being unable to access an abortion in her home state. The decision was 7-2.

Justice Harry Blackmun wrote that the right to an abortion stemmed from the right to privacy under the 14th Amendment. But the court ruled that a person’s fundamental right to terminate their pregnancy must be weighed against the government’s interest in protecting the person’s health and potential life.

The court established a trimester framework that determined when and how governments could impose regulations on abortion access.

In the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey case, a 5-4 ruling, the court upheld a constitutional right to an abortion. But the decision overturned the trimester framework, instead setting viability, about 22 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy, as the line for government regulation.

The court said a person had a right to an abortion before viability without undue interference from the government. After reaching a point of viability, states can regulate abortion as long as it doesn’t affect a person’s health or life.

In the plurality opinion, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that “Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principles of morality, but that cannot control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.”

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Thomas wrote for himself, Antonin Scalia and two others that they would have overturned Roe v. Wade, saying the issue in the case was “not whether the power of a woman to abort her unborn child is a ‘liberty’ in the absolute sense; or even whether it is a liberty of great importance to many women. Of course it is both.”

“The issue is whether it is a liberty protected by the Constitution of the United States. I am sure it is not,” he wrote.

Will court survive a ‘stench’?

During oral arguments in December in the Mississippi case the justices ruled on Friday, Justice Sotomayor expressed concern over how the court overturning cases that established abortion access as a constitutional right would impact its reputation.

“Now, the sponsors of this bill, the House bill in Mississippi, said we’re doing it because we have new justices. The newest ban that Mississippi has put in place, the six-week ban, the Senate sponsor said we’re doing it because we have new justices on the Supreme Court,” Sotomayor said.

“Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”

Justice Kagan questioned whether the court overruling Roe and Casey would lead Americans to view the court as “a political institution that will go back and forth, depending on what part of the public yells the loudest or changes to the court’s membership.”

And Justice Breyer read from a decision the entire Supreme Court issued in Casey about when and how justices should overturn watershed cases to avoid a situation that “would subvert the Court’s legitimacy.”

“They say overruling unnecessarily and under pressure would lead to condemnation, the Court’s loss of confidence in the judiciary, the ability of the Court to exercise the judicial power and to function as the Supreme Court of a nation dedicated to the rule of law,” Breyer read.

The Mississippi law at the center of the argument allowed abortions after 15 weeks in cases of “severe fetal abnormality” or medical emergency, but it did not include exceptions for rape or incest.

At the time Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill in March 2018, the 15-week threshold was the earliest abortion ban in the nation.

That has since changed, with several states enacting laws restricting abortion below that benchmark, including an Oklahoma law that makes abortion a felony punishable by up to 10 years in state prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.

Abortion rights organizations have filed lawsuits to stop many of those new laws from going into effect on the basis that they violated the constitutional right to an abortion that the court undid this week.

Politico leak

The Supreme Court majority opinion released Friday is similar to a draft version, led by Justice Alito, that was leaked to Politico in early May.

The leak was broadly criticized by Republicans, who at the time didn’t want to talk about the implications of the court overturning Roe, while Democrats rebuked the conservative justices for the expected decision.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, held a floor vote in May on a bill that would have codified a nationwide right to an abortion.

That legislation couldn’t get past the chamber’s 60-vote legislative filibuster.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, both Republicans who expressed frustration with how the Trump-nominated justices portrayed their view of Roe as a settled precedent during their confirmation processes, voted against the bill.

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin did as well.

Manchin said in a statement Friday that he was “deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

“I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans,” Manchin continued.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Posted By on Thu, May 5, 2022 at 8:48 AM

click to enlarge The Daily Agenda: A Ballot Measure for Abortion?
Will they be gathering signatures next?

Don't wait on the Democrats to win the statehouse ... These people love sending each other letters ... And a mascot after our own hearts.

Editor's note: The Arizona Agenda is a Substack newsletter about Arizona government and politics run by Rachel Leingang and Hank Stephenson. You can find their archives and subscribe at

Arizona advocacy groups that want to protect access to abortions have one clear option: a citizen initiative.

It’s too late to put one on the 2022 ballot. And the bar is high for signatures, especially on a constitutional amendment, which would be the likely method for a measure protecting abortion rights. Plus, the U.S. Supreme Court still hasn’t actually released a formal opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi abortion case that could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade precedent. At this point, abortion is still legal.

Abortion rights activists are eyeing 2024, a presidential election year, to bring something to the ballot.

“I’ve been on three calls since Monday where folks are actively talking about what that would look like for 2024,” progressive lobbyist Marilyn Rodriguez told us.

The last time Arizonans were asked about abortion on their ballots was 1992, when an initiative sought to ban abortion entirely, with limited exceptions. It failed spectacularly: More than 68% of voters voted against it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Posted By on Tue, May 3, 2022 at 3:42 PM

click to enlarge The Daily Agenda: Maricopa County Needs a Few Thousand Good People
Maricopa County Elections Department
You think anyone really wants to know how this election stuff works?

It's Politico v. Wade ... Legislative Ethics Committee is an oxymoron ... And be nice to everyone, just in case.

Editor's note: The Arizona Agenda is a Substack newsletter about Arizona government and politics run by Rachel Leingang and Hank Stephenson. You can find their archives and subscribe at

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and county election officials tried to get ahead of the next election conspiracies yesterday with a two-hour meeting to explain their elections procedures to anyone willing to listen. 

But in the county that captured the nation’s attention as the epicenter of claims of a stolen presidential election, few tuned in to the board’s attempt to explain how elections work and combat disinformation.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2022 at 10:42 AM

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2022 at 9:04 AM

click to enlarge The Daily Agenda: It's Getting Hot in Here
Courtesy Burro FIre Info Facebook Page
It's the end of the world as we know it...

Quitting is an art ... Really? That guy? ... And all we are is dust in the wind, dude.

Editor's note: The Arizona Agenda is a Substack newsletter about Arizona government and politics run by Rachel Leingang and Hank Stephenson. You can find their archives and subscribe at

We’ll hit 100 degrees here in the Phoenix area any day now, though Tucson already beat us to it.

And as we get a bit grouchy about the rising temperatures (while simultaneously happy about less traffic and fewer tourists clogging our favorite spots), our state enters its climate calamity season.

Wildfire season started early and could be worse than normal. As of Wednesday, three active wildfires are burning throughout the state, the Republic’s map of the disasters shows. Even if we get much-needed rain — unlike 2020 — it’s not all good news: Rain can lead to devastating floods and mudslides in areas burned by fire.

Our decades-long drought and overallocation of water from the Colorado River system is also quickly moving to the foreground for farmers who can’t grow what they’ve been growing for decades. The best the West can do at this point is stave off the inevitable

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2022 at 3:44 PM

click to enlarge The Daily Agenda: But It Grows on Trees, Right?
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror
Will we have enough paper for everyone to get a sticker?

Fines are fine ... Debates are debatable ... And COVID-19 is pleased to meet you.

Editor's note: The Arizona Agenda is a Substack newsletter about Arizona government and politics run by Rachel Leingang and Hank Stephenson. You can find their archives and subscribe at

The world is facing a global paper shortage right now – and it’s about to become a political problem.

Major printing operations are turning down jobs because they can’t get supply (1). Projects that would have taken days to print are taking months. Prices are climbing quickly. The shortage is affecting nearly every sector of business, and it got worse with COVID-19 supply chain issues. 

And you know what requires a lot of paper? An election

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2022 at 12:53 PM

click to enlarge The Daily Agenda: Flip-flopping like a governor
Jeremy Duda, Arizona Mirror
Katie Hobbs changes her mind on Title 42

You can change your mind, that's just the way it goes ... Save the Bill & Ted Circle K ... And this newsletter is NOT dedicated to all of our haters.

Editor's note: The Arizona Agenda is a Substack newsletter about Arizona government and politics run by Rachel Leingang and Hank Stephenson. You can find their archives and subscribe at

After Attorney General Mark Brnovich and other Republican attorneys general filed suit, a federal district judge yesterday blocked the Biden Administration’s plan to halt a public health and immigration policy first imposed under President Donald Trump

You’re going to be hearing a lot about “Title 42” in the coming months as the election heats up, so let’s get up to speed now so you don’t have to change your opinion about it and suffer a flip-flop like Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Katie Hobbs.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2022 at 3:08 PM

click to enlarge The Daily Agenda: If you don't like it, sue us
Courtesy of BigStock

These lawsuits all start to sound the same ... Some of you have too much

money to throw around ... And there's plenty of hypocrisy to go around, too.

Editor's note: The Arizona Agenda is a Substack newsletter about Arizona government and politics run by Rachel Leingang and Hank Stephenson. You can find their archives and subscribe at

It was a busy Friday for the courts,
as the Arizona Supreme Court knocked down the referendum against Gov. Doug Ducey’s historic income tax cuts, the federal courts received another anti-voting lawsuit and Attorney General Mark Brnovich again sued Secretary of State Katie Hobbs

And if all this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because we are, in fact, living in a time loop.

Let’s start with the tax cut referendum, brought to you by many of the same folks who donned red shirts to march on the Capitol four years ago. This is the third time the Arizona Supreme Court (complete with five Ducey appointees out of seven justices) has shot down a #RedforEd measure, having killed #InvestInEd versions 1.0 and 2.0.¹

The referendum was a #Don’tDisinvestFromEd campaign, sprouted as a backlash to the backlash to Prop 208. After voters approved Prop 208, lawmakers attempted to minimize the impact on the rich with tax breaks to high-earners. The referendum would have forced that policy to a vote of the people.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Posted By on Fri, Apr 15, 2022 at 8:01 AM

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2022 at 2:00 PM

We promise that's the only egg pun ... Diane Douglas makes her triumphant return ... And the Carl Hayden statue is probably gone forever.

Editor's note: The Arizona Agenda is a Substack newsletter about Arizona government and politics run by Rachel Leingang and Hank Stephenson. You can find their archives and subscribe at

The timing of this was not intentional, but ahead of Easter Weekend, we’re going long on egg content today. There’s some big news in the Arizona egg world, facilitated by a wonky process that takes some words to explain, and a lot of people were involved. We’ve said it all along: the weirder a story, the more we’re interested. So today’s top story is longer than usual, and the rest of our daily rundown is shorter to compensate. You won’t see our morning emails in your inboxes on Monday because we’re taking Easter Sunday off, but we have a big story for you tomorrow.

At the behest of a politically connected egg farm, an obscure but powerful Arizona government agency last week neutered a ballot measure designed to protect animals by adopting a new but legally questionable regulation. 

By 2025, all eggs produced and sold in Arizona must be cage-free.

The Governor’s Regulatory Review Council decides what state agency and board rules and regulations go into practice. (As the name suggests, all members are appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey.) GRRC basically installs the guts of government. If the Legislature passes laws, agencies, using GRRC, then figure out how to implement them. 

The regulation, which egg farmers and the Humane Society of the United States hailed as a grand compromise, was strange for a number of reasons, chief among them: It’s not clear GRRC has the authority to pass such a rule.