Civil and Human Rights

CAC Brief: Abortion Clinic Shutdown Laws Violate Women’s Right To Liberty Protected By The Fourteenth Amendment

Washington, DC – Yesterday, Constitutional Accountability Center filed a key brief in a case affecting the right of women to access abortion services. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, which will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, the Court will decide whether certain abortion restrictions adopted by the state of Texas are constitutional. CAC’s brief in Whole Woman’s Health details the text and history of the Fourteenth Amendment’s liberty guarantee, and explains how that guarantee, which has been defined and protected in landmark cases including Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Lawrence v. Texas, and last Term’s marriage equality blockbuster, Obergefell v. Hodges, renders the Texas restrictions unconstitutional.


“History shows,” the brief reads, “that the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment wrote the Amendment to provide broad protection of substantive liberty—not limited to the specific guarantees enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution—to broadly secure equal citizenship stature for individuals of all groups and classes. Rather than enforcing these fundamental constitutional principles,” the brief continues, “the Fifth Circuit abandoned them. It eliminated the ‘real substance’ of individual liberty and dignity that Casey protects, rubberstamping onerous laws designed to shutter abortion clinics throughout the state and leave women without any real means of exercising the liberty the Constitution guarantees to them.”


CAC Chief Counsel Elizabeth Wydra said, “Our brief pulls together key arguments from the Court’s leading thinkers on issues of access to abortion services – Justices Kennedy and Ginsburg – and shows how their approach to questions of individual liberty and equality count decisively against laws like the ones passed in Texas.”


“The text and history of the Fourteenth Amendment continue to shape the Court’s jurisprudence,” continued CAC Civil Rights Director David Gans, “and the story told in our brief is a vital one for the Justices to see and grapple with as they decide whether states can place such onerous burdens on the right and ability of women to access abortion, a liberty protected by the Constitution and the Court’s precedents.”






CAC’s “friend of the court” brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole: 


Constitution at a Crossroads: Will the Supreme Court Continue to Chip Away At, or Overrule, the Constitution’s Protection of Reproductive Choice? June 2012: 




Constitutional Accountability Center ( is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.