June was a busy month at the U.S. Supreme Court. Several important decisions were handed down, including a 7-2 decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and a 5-4 decision in NIFLA v. Becerra. The outcomes of these cases were significant victories for free speech and religious liberty, and while we were still celebrating last week, we learned of yet another huge announcement from the Court. After 40 years on the bench and 30 years as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, effective July 31.
What happens next?
With Kennedy’s retirement, President Trump will now nominate his second justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court—a lifetime appointment. According to the White House, the President will announce his nominee on Monday, July 9. Senate hearings will likely commence in August, with plans for the new justice to be seated by October when the Court begins its next term. The nominee must receive a simple majority of the Senators present and voting to be confirmed.
Why is this retirement so significant?
For years, Kennedy has served as the “swing vote” on the Court and has cast the deciding vote in several high-profile cases. With four conservative leaning justices (Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch) and four liberal leaning justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) on the Court, Kennedy’s replacement could tilt the Court to the conservative side for many years to come. The new justice will also likely cast the deciding vote in any effort to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Who are the potential nominees?
Earlier this week, President Trump interviewed four candidates. According to multiple news sources, the four candidates were federal judges Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit, Brett Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia Circuit, and Raymond Kethledge and Amul Thapar of the Sixth Circuit.
What does this mean for New Mexico?
Kennedy’s retirement has prompted immediate discussions regarding the future of abortion in New Mexico. Unbeknownst to many, New Mexico still has its law on the books criminalizing abortion—a law that is currently unenforceable because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. If, however, Roe v. Wade is overturned by the new Court, the authority to regulate or end abortions may revert to the states, meaning New Mexico’s current law could become enforceable. In response to this possibility, the abortion industry and its lobbyists have already made it clear that they intend to keep abortion legal and unregulated in New Mexico by working to repeal the law. As reported by the Albuquerque Journal, Speaker of the House Brian Egolf has stated that rescinding the abortion law will be a “priority” during the next Legislative Session in January.
What would happen if New Mexico’s criminal abortion law is repealed?
If the current abortion law is repealed, abortion will likely remain legal and largely unregulated in New Mexico, as it is now. Further, the current law includes protection from recriminatory action when hospitals and their members/staff decline to perform abortions based upon “moral or religious grounds.” If the law is repealed, it would remove this conscience exception which could lead to the firing of personnel or even the shutting down of hospitals that refuse to perform abortions on the basis of moral and religious beliefs. This portion of the law is currently fully enforceable and a necessary protection to uphold the First Amendment rights of doctors and medical staff.
What can I do to help the pro-life effort?
In short, you can vote pro-life this November. As you can see, there are elected officials involved in this entire process—from the President who will nominate the next justice, to the U.S. Senators who will vote to confirm or reject him/her; from the New Mexico Legislators who will try to repeal the state’s abortion law, to the next Governor who will either sign or veto that legislation. The future of the pro-life movement is up to us, and this November, we can use our vote to advance the effort to protect the preborn children of New Mexico and our nation.
Please stay tuned for more information on these developing events. In the meantime, God bless you and thank you for your continued prayers and support!
Standing for Life,
President and Executive Director