Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) reportedly predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade after hearing a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks later this year.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Cotton told an audience at a Federalist Society conference in Washington, D.C., that the court is likely to overturn Roe because a majority of its members claim to be textualists or originalists when it comes to interpreting the U.S. Constitution.
"The only thing standing in the way of justices doing the right thing is the intense social pressure of liberal elites," said Cotton, according to a person who attended his speech.
"Now is the time for true friends of the Constitution to speak up," he told his audience.
The Federalist Society is an organization of conservative and libertarian lawyers and judges who support textualist and originalist readings of the U.S. Constitution in matters of law. At least five current members of the U.S. Supreme Court have either belonged to or received support from the Federalist Society for their nominations to the court, including Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.
Cotton's speech comes ahead of oral arguments in December for Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. This Supreme Court case will consider whether a 2018 law enacted in Mississippi that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy violates the U.S. Constitution. The law has been blocked from taking effect by lower courts, including the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which cited Supreme Court precedent striking down similar laws that have banned abortion before an unborn baby can survive outside the womb. Doctors generally consider an unborn baby to be viable at 22 weeks of pregnancy or later.
This pivotal Supreme Court case could decide the future of abortion rights in the United States. Abortion rights advocates fear that the justices appointed by former President Donald Trump will rule together to hand down an opinion overturning Roe, returning the abortion issue to the states where several Republican-majority governments have passed laws that would severely restrict access to abortion, if not outright ban the practice altogether in those states.
Pro-life activists, on the other hand, have long argued that the Supreme Court overstepped its constitutional authority with its decision in Roe, and that the supposed right to privacy that makes abortion constitutionally protected is found nowhere in the plain text of the document.
Previous attempts to have the Supreme Court reconsider Roe have failed, Cotton reportedly said, because peer-pressure from academics, legal groups, and other left-wing interests have had an outsized influence on the court's decision-making.