Friday’s ruling removing nationwide protection for abortion rights clearly shows the Court’s new 6-3 conservative supermajority is willing to mandate changes on hot-button cultural and social issues that are out of step with national public opinion. This judicial term saw other dramatic effects of the new conservative cohort, which has shown itself to be pro-business and anti-regulation.
High-profile cases this term on abortion, gun rights and religious expression likely precede more such rulings with the capacity to deepen cultural and political divides. Although these issues are rarely central to a company’s business, there may be pressure from employees, customers and government interlocutors to respond.
The Court’s makeup appears stable. Unless a justice retires unexpectedly or dies, companies should expect a deeply conservative majority to hold sway on most cases for years to come.
Chief Justice Roberts appears highly concerned about the Court’s reputation and integrity in its handling of the Dobbs abortion case, as was evident in his appeals to judicial restraint in his concurrence.
President Biden criticized the ruling as extreme and called on Congress to codify protections formerly guaranteed under Roe. The House has passed such legislation, but it failed in the Senate in May. Biden said it is up to voters to elect leaders who will act to protect abortion.
One day earlier, the Court ruled a New York law placed too many limits on the right to carry a concealed handgun, making it harder for states or localities to regulate the practice. The decision comes amid the first significant gun control legislation to come out of Congress in more than two decades.