SCOTUS to Gather In-Person in December to Hear Mississippi Abortion Case Arguments

Following the passage of controversial abortion laws in Mississippi and Texas, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on December 1 to decide Mississippi's ambitions to have the landmark Roe v. Wade decision overturned.

The state is asking the nation's highest court to uphold its ban on most abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. SCOTUS listed its arguments calendar for late November and early December on Monday. The justices plan to be back in the courtroom in October, the first time they have heard in-person arguments since the beginning of the pandemic.

Mississippi told the court it should overrule Roe and the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which disallows states from banning abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb, which is around 24 weeks of pregnancy

Providers of women's health care have said Mississippi is asking the justices "scuttle a half-century of precedent and invite states to ban abortion entirely."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

SCOTUS
The Supreme Court will hear in-person arguments in December on a Mississippi case that could overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion law. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

The court recently allowed a Texas law to take effect that bans abortions after cardiac activity can be detected, around six weeks of pregnancy, before some women even know they are pregnant. The law is unusual in that it allows private citizens to sue people who may have facilitated a prohibited abortion. The court, split 5-4, did not rule on the constitutionality of the law, but rather declined to block enforcement while a challenge to the law plays out in the courts.

Still, abortion providers took the vote as an ominous sign about where the court, its conservative majority fortified with three appointees of former President Donald Trump, might be heading on abortion.

The Mississippi law was enacted in 2018, but was blocked after a federal court challenge. The state's only abortion clinic, Jackson Women's Health Organization, remains open and offers abortions up to 16 weeks of pregnancy. About 100 abortions a year are done after the 15th week, the providers said.

More than 90 percent of abortions in the U.S. take place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The justices will be at their seats in the marble courtroom for the biggest test of abortion rights in decades.

The high court announced earlier this month that the justices plan to return to their majestic, marble courtroom for arguments beginning in October, more than a year and a half after the in-person sessions were halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The court is allowing live audio of the session, but members of the public will not be able to attend in person because of the coronavirus pandemic. Reporters who cover the court regularly will be present.

The justices all have been vaccinated, the court has said, allowing a return to in-person arguments after more than a year of arguments via telephone. The courthouse remains closed to the public.

The justices had been hearing cases by phone during the pandemic.