Amy Myrick

  • October 26, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Amy Myrick, Staff Attorney for Judicial Strategy, Center for Reproductive Rights 

    It had to happen: an administration seeking to remake the Constitution into a rubber stamp for rights violations found the place where abortion and immigration converge.  In a federally contracted shelter in Texas, an unaccompanied 17-year-old immigrant who did not want to be pregnant waited over a month while federal officials relentlessly blocked her from receiving an abortion.  Jane Doe was forced to endure what ultimately became a grueling spectacle and multiple court hearings before she could access what has long been a protected constitutional right in the United States.

    The government’s argument in this recent case, Garza v. Hargan, is glaringly unconstitutional. Under a line of cases starting with Roe v. Wade (1973), and ending with Whole Woman’s Heath v. Hellerstedt (2016), it’s settled law that the Constitution protects the right to access abortion, and the government cannot place a “substantial obstacle” in the path of a woman - adult or minor - seeking to exercise that right.  Whether claiming to advance the government’s preference for childbirth or its view of what is in a pregnant minor’s “best interests,” or both, the government has no authority to unilaterally block a woman’s access to abortion.  But in the Garza case, the government did just that.

  • February 21, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Amy Myrick, Staff Attorney for Judicial Strategy, Center for Reproductive Rights

    A few weeks into the Trump presidency, the role of the courts is front and center. The first headliner dispute is over President Trump’s executive order on immigration – centrally, what degree of deference or scrutiny courts owe to an action that the president claims is within his plenary power. These questions will define legal proceedings of many types over the next months as President Trump seeks to detonate policy across the board, asserting that he has vast power to make America purportedly safer, healthier, richer and of course greater – and any person or judge, who suggests otherwise is fraudulent.   

    How -will courts react?  They might consider a model that the Supreme Court put forth in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case it decided last June. The opinion focused on how judges should properly apply a legal standard that lower courts were wielding in a range of ways, some of which deferred sharply to lawmakers, and some of which required meaningful judicial review. In clarifying the standard, the Court in Whole Woman’s Health developed a set of three principles for judges to follow in constitutional disputes. Those principles undercut singularly damaging features of President Trump’s policy approach – his disregard for whether laws address a real problem or else just burden people, and his outright rejection of credible evidence. Although Whole Woman’s Health was about abortion restrictions, its model is useful in other areas, now more than ever.