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Fears for Roe V. Wade After Supreme Court Issues Decision Overruling a 40-Year Precedent

"Today's decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next," wrote Justice Breyer in dissent

US Supreme Court

"Hard not to read this as a veiled warning about Roe v. Wade," tweeted law professor Nicholas Bagley of the new ruling. (Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr/cc)

The U.S. Supreme Court's liberal justices sounded alarm on Monday after the court issued a ruling overturning a four decades-old precedent.

"Today's decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent (pdf), in which Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.

Some observers expressed fear one of the those caes could be Roe v. Wade.

The new decision is in Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, which centers on the issue of "sovereign immunity."

Per The Hill:

In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court's conservative justices found that a state cannot be sued by a private party in another state court system without that state's consent. The ruling overturns a previous 1979 decision that found the Constitution does not shield the states from private lawsuits in other states.

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Civil rights lawyer Sasha Samberg-Champion broke down the ruling in a Twitter thread, and offered his thoughts on what it may say about the conservative court's approach to what is called "stare decisis":

"No significant change in factual circumstances or evidence of unworkability warranted the Court's unusual decision to disturb this long-standing precedent," said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in a statement.

"Right now," she said, "we are witnessing coordinated attacks on Roe v. Wade, affirmative action, and more across the country. The forces driving these cases are banking on a Supreme Court majority that will be willing to reopen guiding precedent and remake the law."

"This action by the Supreme Court sends a dangerous message that its precedents are fair game and that prior rulings may not be adhered to," added Clarke. "This action also suggests that it's open season when it comes to precedents that have long safeguarded civil rights and reproductive freedom in our country."

This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Justice Stephen Breyer's name.

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