October 7, 2020

How Have Ga. Experts' Predictions About Abortion Rights Changed Since the Barrett Nomination?

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By Jonathan Ringel | Daily Report | October 7, 2020

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Leah Ward Sears wasn’t concerned two years ago, when abortion rights advocates predicted that then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s joining the U.S. Supreme Court would doom Roe v. Wade—but she is worried now.

Sears, who served 17 years on the Supreme Court of Georgia, including a stint as chief justice, has changed her mind as the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate stands poised to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. high court. A former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett is widely considered a vote against abortion rights, although she said in 2016, “Roe’s core holding, that women have a right to abortion, I don’t think that would change.”

Nonetheless, if Barrett’s confirmation leads to the end of a federal right to abortion, it’s expected that individual states would make their own rules. Georgia Supreme Court precedent recognizes one of the oldest and broadest rights of privacy in the country, but Sears fears that would not stop the current state justices from upholding restrictions on whether a woman can choose to end her pregnancy.

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Leah Ward Sears. (Photo: John Disney/ALM)