Arkansas Gets Nation’s Strictest Abortion Law


The state of Arkansas is now home to the nation’s strictest abortion law, which prohibits all abortions after 12 weeks. That clearly violates the central holding of Roe v Wade. Even worse is how the bill became law after it was vetoed by the governor:

The governor vetoed it because it is unconstitutional. Earlier this week, Beebe vetoed the bill because, as he explained, banning abortion at 12 weeks “blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution.” Under Roe v. Wade, women have a constitutionally protected right to legal abortion services until the medically accepted point of viability. But under Arkansas law, legislatures can override their governor’s vetoes with a simple majority vote in each chamber, and that’s what happened this week.

What is the point of having a governor at all, or giving them veto power, if the legislature can override his will so easily? If they voted for the bill in the first place, they automatically have the votes to override a veto. The good news is that a federal court will almost certainly issue an injunction preventing the law from being enforced when a lawsuit is filed. And if it goes all the way to the Supreme Court, I think there are five votes to strike it down as well. Justice Kennedy is okay with some basic restrictions on the right to have an abortion, but he’s not willing to gut it completely, as he showed in Webster.

Comments

  1. machintelligence says

    I’m sure it will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. Just another example of conservative’s willingness to piss away taxpayer money. I guess it does provide jobs for lawyers.

  2. slc1 says

    I don’t know about Kennedy. At one point (I don’t know if it was Webster), he was all set to overturn Roe but was talked out of it by Sandra Day O’Conner. Well, she ain’t around any more so who the hell knows how he might vote if and when this issue comes before the court (assuming that the lineup will be the same then as it is now; not very likely IMHO)

  3. Ben P says

    What is the point of having a governor at all, or giving them veto power, if the legislature can override his will so easily? If they voted for the bill in the first place, they automatically have the votes to override a veto.

    This is one of only many dumb things about the Arkansas state government. This one however, has been in the state constitution since it was written in 1874. The executive in Arkansas has grown gradually more powerful, but has long been fairly weak. It isn’t really a “veto-override” at all under the language of the state constitution. Rather, the relevant part (Art. 6 Par. 15) says

    Every bill which shall have passed both houses of the General Assembly, shall be presented to
    the Governor; if he approve it, he shall sign it; but if he shall not approve it, he shall return it,
    with his objections, to the house in which it originated; which house shall enter the objections at
    large upon their journal and proceed to reconsider it.If, after such reconsideration, a majority of
    the whole number elected to that house, shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, with the
    objections, to the other house; by which, likewise, it shall be reconsidered; and, if approved by a
    majority of the whole number elected to that house, it shall be a law;

    For those who aren’t acquainted with Arkansas political history, Arkansas was the last state where the “dixiecrats” held on to power. Until this most recent election, both state houses were controlled by Democrats, and most governors have been democrats (see e.g. Bill Clinton). Huckabee was a notable example, but got elected in a democrat friendly state by telling people he wasn’t going to disrupt new-deal era programs, and selling a “compassion” narrative.

    Now, to be perfectly fair, your average Arkansas democrat is some degree a social conservative, is probably religious, and is usually against gun control. Arkansas’ been the home of the blue dog democrats for a long time.

    That finally changed the 2012 election and republicans gained control of both state legislatures. Every ridiculous thing that the state republicans had stored up for two decades has been submitted to the legislature from allowing guns in churches, to banning abortions to making it illegal to investigate allegations of animal cruelty unless you’re a law enforcement officer (that one’s a favorite of the animal industry).

    One of the prominent current crop and the sponsor of both abortion bills is Jason Rapert.

  4. says

    The optimist in me likes to think that this wave of anti-abortion measures represents the last gasp of these reactionary knuckleheads, but it looks like they’re determined to do a lot of damage as they gradually slide away to irrelevance.

  5. eric says

    What is the point of having a governor at all, or giving them veto power, if the legislature can override his will so easily? If they voted for the bill in the first place, they automatically have the votes to override a veto.

    It does seem somewhat silly to have the consideration and re-consideration-after-gubernatorial-objection vote need the same number of supporters. OTOH, while I hope this bill gets shot down in the courts, I can’t really get upset about a state having a relatively weaker executive branch. At the federal level it seems to me we have more problems in areas where the executive is too strong, and fewer problems where its too weak (appointments would be one exception I can think of: like Ed, I think its just silly that we are now going through a long drawn-out fight before President appoints a cabinet member.)

  6. Phillip IV says

    What is the point of having a governor at all, or giving them veto power, if the legislature can override his will so easily?

    Well, I guess originally the expected answer to “Hey Guys, this is totally unconstitutional!” wasn’t “We know, get out of our fucking way!” The whole idea behind a delaying veto was to give an opportunity for reconsideration and draw the public’s attention to the issue. Admittedly, in the current hyperpartisan climate neither of both is going to happen – but that hasn’t always been the case.

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