It seems inevitable at this point that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon be forced to weigh in on the legality of government-imposed vaccine mandates put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And at least one Supreme Court justice seems to have already made her stance on the issue known.
According to Breitbart’s Katherine Hamilton, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the court’s newest member, made a nod during Wednesday’s oral arguments in a case challenging a Mississippi abortion ban “to the argument that abortion laws could be an ‘infringement on bodily autonomy,'” an issue she said extends to “other contexts like vaccines.”
The case at issue, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, questions the legality of a Mississippi measure banning most abortions in the state after 15 weeks gestation.
Barrett made headlines for her line of questioning during arguments in the case last Wednesday, when she pressed attorneys challenging the ban on safe haven laws, which allow parents to leave a newborn at a “safe haven,” like a fire station, without facing criminal penalities.
“I have a question about the safe haven laws,” Barrett began, according to Breitbart.
“Petitioner points out that in all 50 states, you can terminate parental rights by relinquishing a child after abortion,” she added. “And I think the shortest period might have been 48 hours if I’m remembering the data correctly.”
Barrett went on:
So it seems to me, seen in that light, both Roe [v. Wade] and [Planned Parenhood v.] Casey emphasize the burdens of parenting and insofar as you and many of your amici focus on the ways in which the forced parenting, forced motherhood would hinder women’s access to the workplace and to equal opportunities, it’s also focused on the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy. Why don’t the safe haven laws take care of that problem?
It was her next line that was key: “There is without question an infringement on bodily autonomy, which we have in other contexts like vaccines. However, it doesn’t seem to me to follow that pregnancy and then parenthood are all part of the same burden.”
A look ahead
While there’s no guarantee how Barrett will ultimately rule on either issue, mandates on coronavirus vaccines that have been imposed at the federal level, including by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), are already facing legal challenges — and it would be no surprise to experts for the issue to end up on the Supreme Court docket.
“Many different complaints were filed that raise many different legal challenges. The most important are the challenges that address the question about whether OSHA properly used its authority and whether it has authority in this area,” Wendy Parmet, director of Northeastern University’s Center for Health Policy and Law, told CBS News.
“I think the case for OSHA intervening here is very strong, but that doesn’t mean the court will agree,” she added. “We are a country divided over COVID measures, and we have a judiciary that is divided over these measures.”
We can only hope liberty wins out as these cases continue to make their way through the court system.