Roe v. Wade

How the Supreme Court has stirred the populist pot

Protest in front of the Supreme Court, 2016
Anti-abortion protest, 2016. Drew Angerer/Getty

In an age of profound mistrust, few matters stir greater hope, satisfaction and fury among Americans than the Supreme Court and its often-decisive role as the last word across a vast number of divisive issues.

What's happening: Scholars, analysts and observers are struggling to understand the sudden populist challenge to the status quo. So it is odd that little attention has been paid to the court as a primary force in the country's often-apoplectic anger.

Justice Thomas: Supreme Court shouldn't follow erroneous precedent

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for the official group photo at the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on November 30, 2018.
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.