On the Ground in Georgia

TPM Reader SB checks in from Georgia …

In Georgia, we’re not seeing much “Roe and Reform” talk from Sen. Warnock (he supports that path, it’s just not an integral part of his stump speeches). We are, however, seeing a big push from the Democratic AG candidate Jen Jordan that she’ll challenge the constitutionality of Georgia’s newly enacted heartbeat bill (SB 481) if she’s elected. Here’s a clip of her talking about that. Her line “If Alito wants to bring it back to the states, I say bring it” is resonating with Georgia Democrats.

It’s strange here. Stacey Abrams has been running a sleepy campaign and has had some missteps. I’m hoping that Stacey’s group Fair Fight just knows where and how to get out key voting blocs, but her campaign so far has been disappointing compared to her 2018 run.

With that said, there is a lot of energy in Georgia Democratic politics right now, and a lot of it is connected to the reproductive rights issue. In regard to the feasibility of being able to overturn SB 481 for being unconstitutional, it’s by no means a slam dunk. Legal scholars in the state give it a less than 50% chance. The two key things that help the case for 481 being unconstitutional is that there was a 1905 Georgia Supreme Court case (Pavesich v. New England Life Insurance Company) that establishes a very strong right to privacy. Also, Georgia’s constitution was ratified in 1983, which some argue was an implicit affirmation of the rights affirmed in Roe. Anyway, just thought you’d like to know that the abortion issue is front and center in Georgia politics right now, not so much focused on potential federal legislation but on the possibility of overturning SB 481 (which, by the way, only passed by two votes in totally Republican dominated legislature). 

It occurred to me in reading SB’s update that I would not want anyone to think that my focus on the federal level with Roe and Reform is meant to diminish the importance of work at the state level. They’re both important and one doesn’t take away from the other. People really need to be operating at every level – state laws, state constitutional cases, local DAs who can decide whether or not to bring cases in states with ambiguous laws, state referendum, federal laws, federal court cases. The federal level is simply my focus. It’s what I know best. And I do think it’s ultimately where things will be decided. But a lot of things can and do happen on the way to ‘ultimately’.

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