U.S. Supreme Court

Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The ACLU has sued Georgia over its ban on abortion after six weeks, alleging it violates Georgia's right to privacy per the state constitution.

Credit: (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The panel 

Guest host: Kevin Riley, @AJCEditor, editor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Professor Amy Steigerwalt, @DrSteigerwalt, Georgia State University

Professor Anthony Michael Kreis, @AnthonyMKreis, Georgia State University

Professor Fred Smith, @fredosmithjr, Emory University School of Law

Professor Emeritus James C. Cobb, former Southern history professor, University of Georgia


The breakdown 

1. A walk-through on the history of Georgia's constitution. 

  • Georgia's first constituion came about when it was a colony of England in 1777.
  • Georgia's constitution has had at least 10 revisions. 
    • The latest was ratifiedon Nov. 2, 1982, by a vote of the people and it became effective July 1, 1983.
  • The right to privacy originated in the state constitution's Rights of Persons.
    • First adopted in 1861, it was expanded in the 1865 constitution that abolished slavery.
    • In a 1905 decision, Pavesich v. New England Life Insurance Company, the Georgia Supreme Court recognized a sweeping right of Georgians to keep their lives shielded from public scrutiny and unjustified state intervention.


2. Why was Roe v. Wade overturned? 

  • Justice Sam Alito wrote in the decision, "the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion."
  • Justice Clarence Thomas argued in a concurring opinion released that the court “should reconsider” its past rulings codifying rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.

LISTEN: Fred Smith on the history of federal privacy law.

3. History of abortion law in Georgia

  • Challenges to abortions did not appear in Georgia's law until 1876. 

    • That change capped abortion at a period of "quickening" around fifteen weeks.
  • Professor Anthony Michael Kreis says that historically, Georgia lawmakers would not have thought a fetus had a separate and distinct legal status during the first fifteen weeks.

LISTEN: Anthony Michael Kreis explains why legal experts are looking to privacy law when it comes to a post-Roe legal landscape.

4. The difference between the Georgia Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. 

  • Georgia's constitution upheld the right to privacy before the U.S. Constitution, since state constitutions tend to be more detailed and reach further.

LISTEN: Amy Steigerwalt explains the importance and reach of state constitutions.

Friday on Political RewindWe hear from election officials about challenges to voting.