Once again, there are a hundred chanting slogans at the top of their voices in front of a barricaded Supreme Court. Pro- and anti-abortion rights activists gathered in front of the High Court building in Washington, awaiting news of the possible repeal of Roe vs. Wade, the ruling that legalized abortion. abortion in the United States in 1973.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for fifty years”
Thursday, June 23, a little before 10 a.m. local time, when the court began to publish, every ten minutes, the decisions of the day on its site, they were joined by about twenty police officers on bicycles, who had come to prevent any overflow. The demonstrators left less than an hour later without being judged. This is the problem: no one knows when the decision on “Roe” will fall.
This is how the Supreme Court works… “It’s stressful, but we’ve been waiting for this moment for fifty years since Roe’s been in place. We can wait another day”consoles Jessie, a 20-year-old pro-life activist who came to demonstrate with a group of students.
Taking one’s pain patiently is the only common point between the two camps, who meet each other every “Decision Day”, day when the judgments of the high court, which are binding on the whole country, are revealed. They had already met on Tuesday June 21 in front of the building of the institution, now protected by a black grid. They will do the same this Friday, June 24, hoping that the country will once and for all fix the fate of the right to abortion.
An unusual volume of files
Based on a provisional draft of the future decision, revealed in May by the site Politico, “pro-life” and “pro-choice” expect “Roe” to be repealed at the national level by the Court, dominated by conservatives since the three-judge appointments under Donald Trump. It would then be up to the federated states to set their own policy in terms of access to abortion.
The wait is all the longer as the nine judges have to decide a large number of cases before their summer break, which is due to start in July. At the beginning of June, they were to rule on 33 cases, or 53% of the cases heard this year. Court specialists attribute this unusual volume – the highest since the 1950s – to the controversial nature of certain cases (firearms, funding of religious schools, abortion, etc.) and to differences of opinion between conservative judges and liberals.
While awaiting a decision on “Roe”, tensions are increasing. On Tuesday, two pro-choice activists jumped over a first line of barriers to handcuff themselves to the railings that surround the courtyard. In early June, a gunman was arrested near the home of Brett Kavanaugh, one of the judges appointed by Donald Trump.
Draft and final decision
In recent days, pro-abortion rights cling to the hope of a last-minute compromise broached by the centrist head of the court, John Roberts, anxious to preserve the image of the institution, accused of to have become too ” Politics “. To achieve this, he will have to convince at least one of the five judges who supported the repeal in the preliminary document to change sides.
For Susan Low Bloch, a professor at Georgetown University and an expert on the Supreme Court, “it is unlikely that the final decision will be very different from the draft “. She continues: “In the process of drafting decisions, sometimes judges change their minds and this tilts the majority opinion. But I won’t bet on that in this case. Indeed, the leak of the draft in the press makes any reversal of the judges more difficult. These are people who don’t like having their hand forced. »