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Press Release

The Dobbs Ruling Reflects the Troubled State of American Democracy

The Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is a clear step backward for our country. It’s also a symptom of a larger problem facing our democracy.
(Illustration: Leslie Garvey / POGO)

Media Contacts:Sarah Turberville, Director of The Constitution Project at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), [email protected]; or Caitlin MacNeal, Communications Director at POGO, [email protected]

(WASHINGTON) — Today’s Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is a clear step backward for our country. It’s also a symptom of a larger problem facing our democracy: the concentration of power in hands of a tiny minority. And now that minority is using its power in an incredibly regressive manner to overrule a decades-long precedent and revoke rights from the individuals it claims to serve.

The Dobbs majority opinion tells us that the issue of abortion should be returned to the political process. That is cold comfort from a court that has rigged that political process by undoing the Voting Rights Act, greenlighting gerrymandering, and unraveling campaign finance limits.

Decisions throughout this term illustrate the Supreme Court’s near complete transformation into an entity that refuses to act as a check on executive and legislative power and its utter failure to defend the rights of the people the Constitution was written to protect.

“The regressive ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health demonstrates just how threatened our system of checks and balances is,” said Sarah Turberville, the director of The Constitution Project at the Project On Government Oversight. “There are few silver linings in such a draconian decision. But one is that it is a clarion call for the reform of an institution that has been in ill health for some time. My colleagues at POGO and I will be working hard to advocate for reforms that could restore the Supreme Court as a fair check on governmental power.”

The Supreme Court is an institution where too few people hold far too much power for far too long, and it’s easy to see why the public’s trust in the court had dwindled even before today’s ruling. Changes to the court’s structure are long overdue. Reforms like imposing term limits, changing the composition and structure of the court’s decision-making, and requiring a major ethics overhaul could transform the institution into one that is worthy of the public’s trust. We must not accept this broken system as our fate. Instead, we need reforms to create a judicial system that reflects the democracy we deserve.