THE SUPREME Court ruled to abolish Roe v Wade on June 24, 2022, removing a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion.
President Joe Biden spoke out against the decision, saying it is up to Americans to take a stand.
Can the President overrule the Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court is the highest level to make federal decisions in the US, and once a ruling is passed, it is not within the president's power to overrule it.
After the Supreme Court reversed Roe v Wade, Biden held a press conference and said, "Let me be very clear and unambiguous: The only way we can secure a woman’s right to choose and the balance that existed is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law.
"No executive action from the President can do that. And if Congress, as it appears, lacks the vote — votes to do that now, voters need to make their voices heard."
If a piece of legislation is brought back to the Supreme Court, they can reverse their decision, however, it would generally take newly elected officials to make that change.
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The decision was cast in a 6-3 vote to remove a half-century-old law that gave women autonomy over their bodies.
And while Biden is unable to make a difference in the Supreme Court's decision, he called upon voters to take a stand at the voting booths in November.
"This a sad day for the country, in my view," Biden said, adding, "but it doesn’t mean the fight is over."
How can a Supreme Court's ruling be overturned?
Although the Supreme Court's judgment is virtually final, their final decision is not always set in stone.
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The legislation can pass to Congress where it would need to receive a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress to pass.
According to NBC News, this is the first time in US history that a constitutional amendment that had so much public support had been overturned, and one of the few times in history when a right was taken away.
Former President Donald Trump-appointed Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh backed the majority opinion that Justice Samuel Alito wrote saying the court’s decision in Roe “sparked a national controversy that has embittered our political culture for a half-century.”
The opinion was also backed by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.
Alito continued, "We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. 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.
"It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.
He ended by calling the original Roe decision "egregiously wrong and deeply damaging."
A woman's right to an abortion may come down to the November elections, and Biden warned the only way to get the ruling overturned is to elect more pro-choice officials to Congress.
"This fall, we must elect more senators and representatives who will codify a woman’s right to choose into federal law once again, elect more state leaders to protect this right at the local level," Biden said.
He continued, "We need to restore the protections of Roe as law of the land. We need to elect officials who will do that.
"This fall, Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality, they’re all on the ballot."
When has Congress overturned the Supreme Court's ruling?
Since the US was founded, there have been some instances where Congress stepped in to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling.
Some of those cases are:
- Dred Scott v Sanford (1857) – The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that slaves were property and for African Americans, whether they were enslaved or not, could not be US citizens. Congress stepped in after the Civil War and instated the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution that abolished slavery and declared all people born or naturalized in the US are citizens.
- Tobacco Regulation (2000) – The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 majority against the Food and Drug Administration's right to regulate tobacco, saying they lacked the authority. Congress overturned this decision in 2009 by passing the bipartisan Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act which allowed the federal government to regulate tobacco products.
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- Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2007) – The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 majority against Lill Ledbetter in a dispute against her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co, where she worked for nearly two decades before finding out she was getting paid significantly less than her male co-workers. The Supreme Court argued too much time had passed between when the discrimination occurred and when she filed the lawsuit. The decision was overturned in 2009 and then-President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier to file pay discrimination lawsuits.
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