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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.