On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Norma McCorvey, also known as Jane Roe, to overturn the landmark case she won in 1973 that legalized abortion. The justices rejected McCorvey’s bid to reopen Roe v. Wade without comment or recorded dissent, reports Reuters. The move is not surprising, according to the Los Angeles Times, as the reopening of a case due to “changed circumstances” rarely occurs. McCorvey’s case is based on anecdotal “evidence” that abortion harms women.
Two lower courts have previously refused to reconsider the case. In 2003, a federal judge in Dallas denied McCorvey’s appeal, stating, “It is simply too late now, 30 years after the fact, for McCorvey to revisit that judgment,” Reuters reports. The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals also rejected a bid last September to reopen the case.
With no Supreme Court appointments in a decade and with eight of the nine justices older than 65, two to four retirements on the Supreme Court are anticipated in the next four years. The last case on the constitutional right to a safe, legal abortion was decided by a 5-4 majority, and the public release of the late Justice Harry Blackmun’s papers shows how fragile that majority is. Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed by President Reagan, changed his vote at the last minute to protect abortion rights. Though Bush has refused to reveal whether he believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned, he has said in the past that he would model his Supreme Court appointments on Justices Scalia and Thomas. According to the Los Angeles Times, Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Rehnquist have all said that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.