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July 08, 2024 Jurisprudence

ABA president reacts to Supreme Court rulings

The U.S. Supreme Court issued several landmark opinions in its recently concluded 2023-2024 term, including important decisions on presidential immunity, the Chevron deference, abortion, guns, bankruptcy and social media.

The most recent Supreme Court term included several rulings in recent weeks that prompted statements from the ABA president.

The most recent Supreme Court term included several rulings in recent weeks that prompted statements from the ABA president.

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ABA President Mary Smith issued public statements on three of those rulings in June and July:

  • Abortion drug – In U.S. Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected a challenge to the FDA decisions regulating the drug mifepristone because plaintiffs lacked standing.

In a statement immediately after the ruling, Smith said the ABA “is pleased” by the court’s action. “The ABA remains committed to supporting reproductive choice. Limiting this choice can have devastating consequences for those who are pregnant and can adversely affect their physical and mental health, their lives and the lives of their families. Today’s ruling maintains the availability of mifepristone as an option for individuals and families that need it.”

  • Homelessness – In City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, the Supreme Court held that the enforcement of generally applicable laws regulating camping on public property does not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.

In a statement after the ruling, Smith said, “While not directly addressing homelessness, this case could have practical implications for the homeless and unhoused populations permitting cities and states across the country to issue fines or impose jail time for violations of laws involving life-sustaining activities, such as sleeping in public spaces.

“With today’s ruling, it is even more critical for states and local communities to find constructive ways to address the root causes of homelessness and treat those affected with compassion and dignity. The ABA remains committed to finding solutions to homelessness by advocating for the revision of laws and policies to address the challenges that arise when the demand for shelter, housing and services exceeds supply. Instead of criminalizing homelessness, the ABA encourages city, state and local governments to support efforts to increase shelter, housing and services to adequately address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.”

  • Presidential immunity – In Trump v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that a president has immunity from criminal prosecution for “official acts” but not “unofficial acts,” sending the case back to the trial court to determine the application of this principle to the facts in the case.

In a statement after the ruling, Smith said, “The American Bar Association believes that the foundation of our system is equal justice under law and is dedicated to the principle of fair, just and impartial application and enforcement of the law regardless of the position or status of any individual alleged to have violated the law. The principle of “no man is above the law” dates back more than 800 years to the Magna Carta. While prosecuting a president for his actions can present challenges and the Constitution gives a president specific powers on which to act, it is important to realize that public confidence and trust in our legal and judicial system is dependent on equal treatment.

“As the pending cases against former President Donald Trump continue, the courts will continue to address these issues and will decide the outcome. We all need to respect today’s decision and the continuing judicial process that will ultimately resolve these matters.”

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