Monday, July 1st was the end of this year’s Supreme Court (SCOTUS) term. In the past few weeks, the justices issued many rulings that will have sweeping consequences for life in the United States, including:

  • Temporarily preserving access to emergency abortion & medication abortion
  • Taking power from federal agencies, shaking the power balance between the three branches of government
  • Creating new immunity for “official Presidential Acts”

Here’s the NAPAWF team’s breakdown of these cases & how they will impact AAPI women and girls:

The Supreme Court temporarily ensures emergency abortion access under EMTALA

On Thursday, June 27, the Supreme Court issued their opinion in the combined cases Idaho v. United States and Moyle v. United States, preventing Idaho from enforcing their abortion ban in emergency situations – for now. In a 6-3 vote, SCOTUS merely punted it back to a lower court, and prevented the state from enforcing its ban in the interim.

However, the decision does not answer whether states can override federal law requiring hospitals to provide abortion care to patients in life-threatening pregnancy complications. This exact case could end up back at the Supreme Court because of a potential conflict between the 5th and 9th Circuits (due to a pending Texas case). 

Medication abortion also temporarily protected

Earlier in June, the Supreme Court declined to allow new restrictions on mifepristone, one of the two pills commonly used for medication abortion in the United States.

In the case FDA v. AHM, anti-abortion activists filed a lawsuit with a shaky legal argument that challenged the FDA’s approval of mifepristone in 2000. For over two decades, people have used mifepristone to terminate their early pregnancies safely and in the privacy of their own home. Since 2022, medication abortion has become a keystone for abortion access, now accounting for more than 60% of all abortions in the United States. 

We’re thankful that the Supreme Court passed on allowing this challenge, but unfortunately, this isn’t over. Several states have already banned or restricted medication abortion, and they will probably continue regardless of the outcome of this case. This decision left an opening for Idaho, Kansas, and Missouri to bring back this same case in a lower level court.

More than 1.3 million Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women live in the 26 states that have banned or are likely to ban abortion. Our bodily autonomy should not be at the mercy of the courts. We need federal legislation that restores the right to abortion and ensures everyone can access the abortion care they want and need.

The Supreme Court overturns Chevron and takes power from federal agencies

On Friday, June 28, the Supreme Court upended 40+ years of legal precedent by overturning the Chevron doctrine. This long-established rule allowed government agencies to issue expert and detailed regulations to clarify broad legislation; instead, SCOTUS took much of that power for themselves with their decision in Loper Bright v. Raimondo. This decision creates unnecessary uncertainty around regulatory processes that could diminish civil rights enforcement and disproportionately harm immigrant and other marginalized communities. 

For example, AANHPI organizations (like NAPAWF) engage with federal agencies to ensure that our communities’ unique needs and perspectives are considered when creating regulations, particularly relating to language access and data equity. Now the careful regulations made by federal agencies will be subject to the final opinion of unelected judges, who may have no expertise on the case at hand, are increasingly hostile to racial justice, and where AANHPIs are still underrepresented.

Presidential immunity for official acts

Finally, on July 1st, SCOTUS issued a decision creating a new category of immunity for official Presidential actions. Justice Sotomayor’s dissent raises serious concerns:

“Today’s decision to grant former Presidents criminal immunity reshapes the institution of the Presidency. It makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law.”

As AANHPIs, the imperative to civically participate in our democracy becomes all the more important. 

The court’s recent decisions – including earlier cases gutting the Voting Rights Act, striking down race-conscious university admissions policies, and overturning the federal right to abortion – are antithetical to our democracy as we know it. In many of these decisions, the justices alluded to the intent of the Founders of the United States. These literal (and selective) readings seek to implement unpopular rulings to turn back the clock on – to the extent it exists today – our multiracial democracy that provides gender equality and civil rights for people of color and LGBTQ+ people.

We’re done waiting for any more devastating decisions to come down. In 2020, NAPAWF called on incoming President Joe Biden to expand the Supreme Court. We also support the passage of the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act

The sweeping decision to overturn Roe in 2022 and this year’s series of democracy-undermining decisions from the Supreme Court reinforces the need for elected officials to act for our communities and for our communities to take action at the ballot box in November.