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  • Fair Courts Update: Iowa’s Supreme Court overturned state constitutional protections for abortion days before Roe fell

Fair Courts Update: Iowa’s Supreme Court overturned state constitutional protections for abortion days before Roe fell

Plus, state legislators begin to target state courts’ ability to hear reproductive rights cases.

Last Updated: June 28, 2022
Published: July 7, 2022

On Friday, the Supreme Court over­turned Roe v. Wade, send­ing the fight over abor­tion rights to state courts.

Bren­nan Center Publishes New Analysis of Legis­lat­ive Assaults on State Courts

On June 22, the Bren­nan Center published Legis­lat­ive Assaults on State Courts — 2022, an analysis of state legis­la­tion intro­duced so far this year that would politi­cize state courts or weaken their inde­pend­ence.

Accord­ing to the analysis, 73 such bills have been intro­duced in 25 states as of June 10 – at least four of which are now law. Legis­lat­ors in Ohio also respon­ded to a state high court ruling limit­ing excess­ive bail by placing a meas­ure on the Novem­ber ballot that would strip the judi­ciary’s author­ity over bail.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision over­turn­ing Roe v. Wade, legis­lat­ors in at least 11 states considered over a dozen bills that were targeted at repro­duct­ive rights cases. Two new laws in Oklahoma (S.B. 1503 and H.B. 4327), for example, impose Texas-style bounty hunter abor­tion bans and contain provi­sions that bar courts in the state from hear­ing lawsuits to stop the laws’ enforce­ment.

While Oklahoma is the only state to have enacted such a law to date, many states previ­ously announced their plans to call special sessions if Roe is over­turned.

Iowa Supreme Court Over­turns 2018 Decision Find­ing State Consti­tu­tional Right to Abor­tion

On June 17, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opin­ion uphold­ing an Iowa law imple­ment­ing a 24-hour wait­ing period for patients seek­ing an abor­tion, over­tur­ing the court’s 2018 decision, in which it declared there was a funda­mental right to abor­tion under the state’s consti­tu­tion.

The reversal comes after Iowa’s Repub­lican-controlled legis­lature passed a 2019 law giving Repub­lican Gov. Kim Reyn­olds more control over the state’s commis­sion for vetting appel­late court judges. Since the 2018 decision, Reyn­olds has nomin­ated four justices to the state’s high court – three of whom voted to over­turn the court’s 2018 decision. (Reyn­olds will make her fifth appoint­ment to the seven-member court in July, upon the mandat­ory retire­ment of Justice Brent Appel, the court’s sole justice to dissent from its June 17 decision and the court’s only Demo­cratic appointee).

Before the Iowa Supreme Court’s June 17 opin­ion, Iowa was one of eleven states where the state’s supreme court had either recog­nized a right to abor­tion in their state consti­tu­tions or struck down restric­tions on abor­tion that had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, accord­ing to a recent report by the Center for Repro­duct­ive Rights.

Pres­id­ent Biden Announces 19th Round of Federal Judi­cial Nomin­ees

On June 15, Pres­id­ent Joe Biden announced his nine­teenth round of federal judi­cial nomin­ees, bring­ing his total number of nomin­a­tions to the federal bench since taking office to 105.

Biden’s latest slate includes three circuit and four district court nomin­ees, several of whom would mark historic firsts for the federal judi­ciary if confirmed, accord­ing to the White House’s state­ment.

Brad­ley Garcia would be the first Latino to serve on the D.C. Circuit, Dana Douglas would be the first woman of color to serve on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Roopali Desai would be the first South Asian person to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Gina Méndez-Miró would be the first openly LGBTQ+ federal district court judge in Puerto Rico.

Accord­ing to Brook­ings, 65 of Biden’s federal court nomin­ees had been confirmed as of June 1. This compares to Pres­id­ent Trump, who had 38 federal judges confirmed at this point in his pres­id­ency and Pres­id­ent Obama, who had 25 confirmed.