This week’s revelation of President Donald Trump’s new pick for the Supreme Court has abortion-rights advocates rattled.
But the Los Angeles Times notes that even if the Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, that reversal would have no effect on California.
That is because prior to Roe v. Wade, each state made its own laws regarding abortion — and California’s abortion laws are based on a state right to privacy based that was added to the state constitution in 1972.
The Times‘ John Myers notes (original links):
Should abortion return to the front lines of the nation’s political battles, as President Trump selects a pivotal new justice to join the U.S. Supreme Court, the outcome likely will have little practical impact in California.
For that, you can thank Kenneth Cory — and voters … Cory, who died almost two decades ago after a long tenure as the state’s controller, was serving as an Orange County assemblyman when he was alarmed about the lack of guaranteed privacy — more specifically, how government could easily intrude into a person’s life. It took him two years to get legislators to place Proposition 11 on the Nov. 7, 1972, statewide ballot.
Proposition 11 never contemplated decisions over reproductive rights and responsibilities. But its creation of an “enumerated,” specifically invoked, right of the state’s residents has carried great weight. There is no similar specific language in the U.S. Constitution. And in California, subsequent court cases on abortion kept coming back to Cory’s small but important 1972 ballot measure.
It’s also the underpinning of a series of California laws supporting abortion in the decades since passage. A June survey by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that supports reproductive rights, found California to be one of only nine states that “protect the right to choose abortion prior to viability or when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring at the end of the month, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan but was protective of the Roe v. Wade precedent.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.