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Supreme Court vacates abortion ruling, only Justice Jackson dissents

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
March 22, 2023

The Supreme Court threw out a lower-court ruling in a short procedural order on Monday that allowed a state clerk to be sued for telling a pregnant Missouri teen that her parents must be notified about the teen's decision to have an abortion without her parent's consent.

Jackson wrote a four-page dissent

The case was returned to the lower court by the justices, and included instructions to vacate the judgment and dismiss it as moot, according to Scotusblog.

That order, which was unsigned, was one of several that was noted on a list of orders that was released from a private conference the justices held last week.

The case drew sharp dissent from Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. The justice argued that the case, as well as several other recent ones, didn't meet the stringent criteria typically required for that type of relief.

Though the Supreme Court didn't include an opinion or an explanation that detailed its decision, Jackson wrote a solo, four-page dissent claiming that the judges have become too liberal with their decisions to grant requests in favor of those who want rulings by lower courts to be nullified, according to Politico.

Jackson is President Biden's sole appointee on the high court.

Jackson feels Munsingwear vacatur needs to remain exclusive to 'exceptional cases'

“This case presents absolutely no ‘extraordinary’ circumstances” justifying vacating the lower court’s decision, Jackson wrote.

“I am concerned that contemporary practice related to so called ‘Munsingwear vacaturs’ has drifted away from the doctrine’s foundational moorings,” said Jackson in her dissent.

Munsingwear vacatur allows for a case to be vacated because it's become moot while pending review by a higher court. However, an exception would be made if the person adversely impacted by the initial decision isn't responsible for the "mootness," according to The Hill.

Jackson went on to state that in her view, "...It is crucial that we hold the line and limit the availability of Munsingwear vacatur to truly exceptional cases."

Jackson went on to note that from her perspective, "mere disagreement with the decision that one seeks to have vacated cannot suffice" to applying Munsingwear vacatur to just any particular case.

Jackson was the only justice who dissented.

Missouri's strict abortion ban

The state of Missouri's abortion ban is presently one of the strictest in the country, according to Politico.

The ban doesn't allow exceptions in the case of rape or incest. However, if the life of the mother is in danger or if carrying the baby to term will cause severe damage to the mother's health, then an abortion may be allowed.

Abortion supporters in Missouri are working on getting the abortion ban reversed by placing a state constitutional amendment option on the state ballot for the 2024 elections.

Missouri is one of several states that placed restrictions on minors in connection to getting an abortion prior to the overturning of Roe v Wade.

The reversal of Roe v. Wade took place in June of 2022. The ruling shifted the abortion issue from being a federal level issue to one that each state would decide on for itself, according to the New York Post.

“Abortion presents a profound moral question,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote regarding his opinion and the reversal of Roe v. Wade. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”