States cannot nullify Supreme Court decisions, but that’s exactly what five right-wingers on the high court want to reverse, and that’s why Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor called them out on Friday.
With the future of Roe v. Wade continuing to hang in the balance, the five anti-abortion conservatives on the court once again allowed the draconian Texas abortion law to remain in effect, therefore banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy when most women don’t even know they are pregnant and allowing private citizens to enforce it via civil lawsuits. It’s a disturbing loophole to nullify federal laws and rulings that Republicans don’t like.
And it’s dangerous not only because other states will start copying the Texas law, but they could also use the same strategy to nullify other rulings and laws, too, thereby undermining our constitutional system.
In a dissent against the court’s failure to block the law while it is being challenged, Sotomayor ripped her colleagues for betraying the Constitution.
“The Court should have put an end to this madness months ago before S. B. 8 first went into effect. It failed to do so then, and it fails again today,” Sotomayor wrote in the opinion. “I concur in the Court’s judgment that the petitioners’ suit may proceed against certain executive licensing officials who retain enforcement authority under Texas law, and I trust the District Court will act expeditiously to enter much-needed relief. I dissent, however, from the Court’s dangerous departure from its precedents, which establish that federal courts can and should issue relief when a State enacts a law that chills the exercise of a constitutional right and aims to evade judicial review.”
“By foreclosing suit against state-court officials and the state attorney general, the Court effectively invites other States to refine S. B. 8’s model for nullifying federal rights,” Sotomayor continued. “The Court thus betrays not only the citizens of Texas but also our constitutional system of government. While the Court properly holds that this suit may proceed against the licensing officials, it errs gravely in foreclosing relief against state-court officials and the state attorney general. By so doing, the Court leaves all manner of constitutional rights more vulnerable than ever before, to the great detriment of our Constitution and our Republic.”
Even Roberts warned against nullification and made it clear that states don’t have the power to nullify federal laws and rulings.
“The clear purpose and actual effect of S. B. 8 has been to nullify this Court’s rulings,” Roberts wrote in his dissent.
“It is, however, a basic principle that the Constitution is the ‘fundamental and paramount law of the nation,’ and ‘[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.’ Indeed, ‘[i]f the legislatures of the several states may, at will, annul the judgments of the courts of the United States, and destroy the rights acquired under those judgments, the constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery.’ The nature of the federal right infringed does not matter; it is the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system that is at stake.”
Clearly, the court’s conservative wing, minus Roberts, does not care about the Constitution. They must be removed from the bench. And it’s time for blue states to turn the tables by using these same tactics against Republicans. That means targeting gun manufacturers to prevent gun violence or targeting businesses that spurn vaccine and mask mandates. This Supreme Court is a threat to our rights, and they must be stopped.
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