Most of the Democratic members of Colorado’s congressional delegation have added their names to a brief in a pending Supreme Court case which could further limit the reproductive rights of women.
Thirty-six senators and 161 representatives “seek to protect the integrity of the legislative process, which is undermined when unnecessary, politically targeted, and intentionally unconstitutional legislation is enacted for pretextual reasons,” they wrote.
The legislators referred to June Medical Services LLC vs. Gee, in which the Republican-controlled Louisiana legislature passed a law to require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The brief argues that Louisiana exhibits “defiance” of the U.S. Supreme Court in continuing to defend its 2014 law in light of the court’s decision three years ago.
In 2016, justices in Whole Woman's Health vs. Hellerstedt overturned a virtually identical law from Texas, finding that the provision did not provide “medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access” and places an unconstitutional “burden on abortion access.”
The legislators are requesting the Supreme Court adhere to its precedent in the Texas case, and note that senators often ask prospective justices about their attitudes toward reversing precedent in their confirmation hearings.
“[T]hese laws reflect those states’ attempts to revisit settled constitutional law, and many lawmakers, apparently emboldened by the change in composition of the Court,” they wrote.
The Whole Woman’s Health case was decided 5-3, following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death earlier that year and preceding Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. President Donald Trump has since appointed conservative replacements for both men.
Broadly, the members of Congress argue that siding with Louisiana would begin to undermine the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision, which established a constitutional right to abortion.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, and Ed Perlmutter are parties to the brief. U.S. Rep. Jason Crow and the Colorado delegation’s Republican members did not sign. Crow's office later noted that while he supports reproductive rights, he missed the deadline to join the brief.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from the office of Jason Crow.