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Top questions answered on the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade reversal

| Author: Aaron Mills

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end constitutional protection for abortion has led to many questions – mainly “what happens next?”

Constitutional law expert and Central Michigan University faculty member Kyla Stepp shared her thoughts on what happens next in Michigan, and across the nation and what the Supreme Court’s ruling could mean for other civil liberties and civil rights cases. 

Q: With the reversal of Roe v. Wade, what is the immediate impact here in Michigan?

A: Here in Michigan, abortion is a criminal offense under a 1931 law that predates Roe v. Wade. Since the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that the U.S. Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion, the Michigan law will go back into effect and could be enforced.

However, last month a judge in Michigan issued a temporary injunction blocking the enforcement of the Michigan law while the courts determine whether the right to an abortion is protected under the Michigan Constitution, which grants additional rights beyond those in the U.S. Constitution. Ultimately, it will up to the Michigan courts to decide whether abortion can be criminally punished in this state.

Thus, because of the injunction, as of now (June 24, 2022), abortion is still legal in Michigan, but that could change in the near future.

Q: What’s likely to happen from a national perspective now?

A: Nationally speaking, states are now free to regulate abortion however they see fit. Some states have already passed outright bans on abortion that will go into effect immediately or very soon. Other states have protected the right to abortion. Many states, like Michigan, are facing elections this November, and those outcomes are likely to determine the future of abortion law in those states going forward.

Congress can also pass laws restricting or protecting the right to abortion nationally, but that is not very likely right now with the current makeup of Congress. However, the upcoming midterm election, and the 2024 presidential election, have the potential to shift things enough that national legislation is possible in the future.

Q: What does the Supreme Court’s decision mean for future civil liberties and civil rights cases?

A: This decision does not directly impact other civil liberties or civil rights beyond abortion. However, since many other cases have used Roe v. Wade and subsequent abortion decisions to frame the rights to privacy, liberty, and bodily autonomy when reaching their decisions, there is a real chance that the Court could overturn other rulings that rely on these rights. For example, access to contraception, same-sex marriage bans, and other LGBTQ+ rights could be reconsidered by the Court in light of their decision today.

 

Kyla Stepp
Kyla Stepp

About Kyla Stepp

Kyla joined the Central Michigan University Department of Political Science and Public Administration in the Fall of 2016 as a post-doctoral fellow. In the Fall of 2019 she became an assistant professor. Prior to completing her Ph.D. at Wayne State University, she attained a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and practiced law in Michigan full-time for 6 years. Her research primarily focuses on the relationship between courts and judicial behavior in our current ideologically and politically polarized environment and contemporary constitutional rights, particularly those of politically disadvantaged groups in society. Additional research interests include public opinion and polarization, race, gender and American politics, and issues involving criminal justice law and reform. 

Kyla teaches a number of American government and law courses for the department, including Constitutional Law, Civil Rights and Liberties, Criminal Law, Judicial Process & Politics, Trial Advocacy, American National Institutions, Campaigns & Elections, Administrative Law, and Introduction to American Government. 

Kyla runs the  Pre-Law Center at CMU and acts as the primary pre-law advisor for CMU students from all disciplines across the University. She is the faculty advisor for Phi Alpha Delta, CMU’s pre-law fraternity. She is also the co-founder and advisor for the CMU Mock Trial Association, a nationally competitive mock trial team. 

Media outlets wishing to request an interview with Kyla Stepp can contact Aaron Mills, director of communications, at mills1ac@cmich.edu or 989-774-1197.