Georgia’s Supreme Court hears arguments over state’s heartbeat abortion law

People stood outside Georgia’s Supreme Court Tuesday and protested as the high court heard arguments on Georgia’s heartbeat abortion law about whether the law is constitutional.

Opponents of the law say the state needs to throw the law out and start the process over.

The Supreme Court is not making a decision on whether abortion is legal in Georgia. It’s considering if the law banning it after about six weeks is legal.

Attorneys for the ACLU argued that, since Roe v. Wade was still in place in 2019, Georgia’s law was unconstitutional at the time.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, which essentially sent abortion laws back to the states to decide.

Georgia’s Supreme Court justices faced a full house inside their new chambers as attorneys on both sides argued over the heartbeat abortion law, also known as the Life Act.

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“Your theory is that the Life Act violated the Georgia Constitution because at the time the Life Act was passed, it violated the federal constitution as it was understood,” Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charles Bethel said during Tuesday’s arguments.

Lawyers with the ACLU argued that the law must remain unconstitutional.

“This is not a case where there was a gray area in this, in 2019. This was a case where there was 50 years of precedent,” ACLU attorney Julia Stone said.

But the state argued that what the U.S. Supreme Court said in overturning Roe v. Wade is that that case was always wrong, including in 2019.

“When the Supreme Court overrules that in Dobbs, what it is saying and what it said, by the way, it was explicit about this, is that Roe and Casey were always wrong, and those decisions were always wrong,” State Solicitor Stephen Petrany argued.

Outside the court building, Georgia State University constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis thought the state had a better argument but said this could just be round one in a long legal fight.

“Essentially, the court was deciding a procedural issue, whether or not the General Assembly acted lawfully at the time it adopted this law, not whether or not abortion is protected under the Georgia constitution,” Kreis said.

The justices will make their ruling in the next few months.

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