Jun 18, 2019

Justice Thomas: Supreme Court shouldn't follow erroneous precedent

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Justice Clarence Thomas said in a case concurring opinion Monday the Supreme Court should not feel bound to uphold precedent in reaching decisions.

Why it matters: If adopted by enough Supreme Court justices, this approach could see past decisions being overruled, including the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, which established a constitutional right to abortion. Conservative states are passing the most restrictive abortion laws in generations, setting up what could be a precedent-smashing Supreme Court challenge to the abortion status quo.

When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it."

The big picture: The court now has a 5-4 conservative majority. Thomas, one of the most conservative justices, made the comments in a double jeopardy case, Gamble v. United States, which generally prohibits a person from being charged twice for the same crime.

  • Thomas referred to the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe v Wade, which he dissented from at the time, per Reuters. That decision said states couldn't place an undue burden on the constitutional right to an abortion recognized in the Roe v Wade ruling.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

The one-minute coronavirus story

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

News about the coronavirus is so big and coming so fast that it's hard to remember what happened just last week, let alone last month.

Here's the quickest possible review of the story so far — how it happened and how the U.S. lost control.

Alaska becomes latest state to issue coronavirus stay-at-home order

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Alaska issued a mandate Friday evening for all people in the state to "remain at their place of residence and practice social distancing" except for those engaged in essential services, including health care and government functions, effective Saturday at 5 p.m.

The big picture: This is the latest state to announce policies to enforce social distancing. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide were asked to stay home Monday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 32 mins ago - Health

Focus group: Minnesota swing voters balk at Trump's Easter deadline

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A group of Midwestern swing voters that supported President Trump's handling of the coronavirus less than two weeks ago is balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter, saying they'll tolerate business closures for as long as it takes to contain the spread.

Why it matters: Their feedback suggests that some voters otherwise mostly supportive of the president — and who still see financial threats outpacing health threats — aren't so tired of social distancing that they're willing to risk ending it too quickly.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy