The Supreme Court of Georgia Wednesday reinstated the state’s six-week abortion ban after a lower court found the 2019 act unconstitutional on November 15. In a one-page order, the court granted the state’s request to stay the lower court decision. As a result, the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act is reinstated, and Georgia’s six-week abortion ban is once again in place.
The state requested the court stay the lower court’s decision while an appeal of the decisions proceeds. The state argued that the lower court’s decision to overturn portions of the LIFE Act cannot stand because it was an act of “force” and “will” rather than “judgment.” Additionally, the state argued the lower court wrongly relied on the now overturned US Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade in their decision. The lower court reasoned that Roe v. Wade was applicable because it was still the governing law at the time the LIFE Act was passed in Georgia. In response, the state argued to the Georgia Supreme Court that “[n]o other court has ever held that an overruled judicial opinion can…invalidate otherwise perfectly valid laws.”
In response, the plaintiffs who originally challenged the LIFE Act argued the lower court straightforwardly applied longstanding court precedent. According to the plaintiffs, the lower court’s decision “gives Georgians (via their elected representatives) an opportunity to weigh in on a six-week abortion ban in the wake of a dramatic change in federal constitutional caselaw that…permits” legislation like the LIFE Act.
Seven of the court’s nine justices agreed with the decision to stay the lower court’s order. One of the justices was disqualified from participation while the other chose not the participate. A full appeal before the court is still pending.