SCOTUS justices should be impeached for ‘lying’ about Roe positions: Is AOC right?

NBC News

Fact Box

  • On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson case to overturn Roe and Casey. The court held that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion [...] and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
  • On June 26, 2022, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that impeachment should be considered for any Supreme Court justices that allegedly “lied” during their hearing confirmations over Roe v. Wade. 
  • A NPR/PBS NewHour/Marist National poll in May 2022 found that two in three Americans opposed overturning Roe v. Wade. A majority (68%) believe abortion should have some restrictions. 
  • According to a June 1-20, 2022, News Gallup poll, Americans have less confidence (25%) in the US Supreme Court than they did in 2021 (36%).

Andrew (Yes)

Lying under oath is an impeachable offense—just ask former President Bill Clinton. Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh both stated under oath that they viewed Roe as settled law, with Kavanaugh stating, 'I said that it's settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis...' He further noted how Roe 'has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years.' These statements, given under oath, directly contradict the historical actions taken by these conservative justices in even hearing this case, let alone ruling to overturn Roe and Casey the way they did.

It's important to remember that impeachment is not the same as removal. While the House of Representatives could vote to impeach a justice, a fair and open trial would then be needed before a two-thirds vote in the Senate could remove the justices. A public trial like this would be useful because it would lay out the facts of how these justices have misrepresented themselves in their confirmation hearings, sending a message to all future justice candidates that they will be held accountable for misrepresenting themselves. There is no place for activism in the Supreme Court, and impeaching these justices would require them to explain themselves.

Finally, impeaching these justices is about accountability to the American people. It is completely unacceptable that a court decision with such huge ramifications, which the majority of Americans oppose and have thought unnecessary to reexamine as settled law, be handed down in this way. Representative Ocasio-Cortez is right to call for these justices' impeachment to hold them accountable.

Luke (No)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, being a part of the legislative branch of the government as a US representative for New York, should understand better than most that it is the job of Congress to pass laws and not the Supreme Court's. If Congress had so determined to legislate abortion into law, they could have done so, having had ample opportunity over the past nearly 50 years of Roe being the precedent, despite defying the Constitution and constitutional law. As a member of Congress, AOC should honor the Supreme Court ruling unless she can point to a specific law that was violated. Ultimately, as long as SCOTUS is not violating the Constitution nor established law that adheres to the Constitution, the Supreme Court is free to rule as the facts lead. The facts of the case prompted SCOTUS to overturn Roe and Casey as an 'egregiously wrong' ruling.

Furthermore, the overturning of a former decision by the Supreme Court is not without precedent, as over its history, the Supreme Court has overturned over 300 past rulings. It may be so that the current justices on the court indicated their position on Roe during their nomination period, but the Supreme Court cannot be held to these statements. The fact is that the high court reviewed a case and made what it saw as the correct determination. Seeing as the legislative branch of government failed to put abortion into law, and with the clear precedence of SCOTUS overturning its former rulings, AOC is wrong to seek the impeachment of justices simply because the high court did not rule in her favor.

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