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John Roberts' Big Abortion Flip-Flop and Clarence Thomas' Scorching Rebuke of Roe

Clarence Thomas and John Roberts
Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and John Roberts

In Monday's 5-4 Supreme Court ruling striking down a Louisiana abortion law that was designed to ensure the health and safety of women, Chief Justice Roberts again surprised conservatives by siding with the Court's four liberals.

Mallory Quigley with the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List told CBN News, "What we have today is a bitterly disappointing decision, especially on the part of the Chief Justice for his flip-flop."

Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Benjamin Clapper agreed. "We're disappointed in today's decision and we're disappointed in Justice Roberts, who chose for the abortion facilities and their interests over protecting the health and safety of women."

The Louisiana law is similar to a Texas law that the Court struck down four years ago. Back then, Chief Justice John Roberts was for the anti-abortion Texas law. But now he's flipped, saying the Texas decision is a controlling precedent. He wrote that the new ruling is "...controlled by (the Court's) decision four years ago invalidating a nearly identical Texas law."  

Regent Law Professor Brad Jacob spoke of Roberts' helping to kill the Louisiana law when not all that long ago he'd backed the Texas law. 

"He said in that case, 'this is wrong – the Constitution does not require us to strike down a law requiring admitting privileges in a hospital.'  (Monday) he said, 'even though I still think that opinion is wrong, I'm going to follow it.'   And so he followed the precedent that he himself said is wrong," explained the incredulous Professor Jacob.

The White House weighed in against the Court's ruling, saying in a statement, "...unelected justices have intruded on the sovereign prerogatives of state governments by imposing their own policy preference in favor of abortion to override legitimate safety regulations."

Clarence Thomas: Abortion Precedents 'Should Be Undone'

Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissent bludgeoned his fellow justices. He said none of the Court's pro-abortion decisions are supported by the US Constitution.  He labeled them "a creation that should be undone."

He went right after the Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal nationwide and the rulings that followed it, writing, "Despite the readily apparent illegitimacy of Roe, the Court has doggedly adhered to (it's core holding) again and again, often to disastrous ends."

Thomas also wrote, "Abortion precedents are grievously wrong and should be overruled."

Professor Jacob backed Thomas, saying of the pro-choice justices, "Their job is to apply the words, the original meaning of the United States Constitution.  And if there's an earlier opinion that is wrong, and they knowingly follow the earlier wrong opinion – follow precedent instead of following the Constitution itself – I think they've violated their oath of office.  I think they have acted unconstitutionally."

Meanwhile, many are asking is the Court actually all that conservative? What this decision and several others show is that the conservative majority court-watchers thought would now hold sway may not be real.  

Chief Justice Roberts was once thought to be a fairly firm conservative vote.  But he has sided repeatedly with the four more liberal justices. When he does it on an issue as precious to conservatives as abortion, it means probably every issue is up in the air.   

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