When Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in last October as a Supreme Court justice, many hoped and others feared that the fuse was lit on Roe v. Wade. Many say that there is now a six-justice “pro-life” majority on the Court. What this is supposed to mean is unclear. It is not apparent that six justices believe all abortions—or even all elective (non-therapeutic) abortions—are morally wrong. Nor is it evident that six justices believe that almost all abortions should be prohibited by law. It is, however, practically certain that all the justices save for Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor believe that Roe was wrongly decided. These six also believe, albeit to varying degrees, that Roe was a mistake that has haunted the Court, and challenged what they would call its “legitimacy,” ever since.
If a “pro-life” justice is one who is fed up with Roe v. Wade and wishes it would go away, then there are indeed six of them. How many justices are prepared to overrule Roe v. Wade is a different question. The Court’s inaction this term on an abortion case from Mississippi strongly suggests that fewer than four justices are prepared to overrule Roe. Read more from First Things.