The highest court in the United States dealt a blow to the far-right “personhood” movement yesterday when it declined to hear an appeal from Personhood Oklahoma, an anti-abortion group seeking to challenge a lower court’s ruling that struck down their proposed ballot amendment.
Far-reaching personhood amendments would endow fertilized eggs with the same constitutional rights as people, and could also serve to outlaw invitro fertilization and some forms of contraception. In April, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that personhood is “clearly unconstitutional,” blocking a proposed personhood amendment from the state’s ballot because it would have gone too far to limit women’s right to choose. Personhood Oklahoma attempted to appeal their case to the Supreme Court, hoping to overturn the lower court’s decision — but as the Hill reports, the Supreme Court declined to hear Personhood Oklahoma’s appeal yesterday, putting a definitive end to personhood advocates’ quest to advance the ballot issue in that state:
By rejecting the appeal, the justices left in place a lower court’s decision that found a personhood measure in Oklahoma would violate the Constitution.
Only four of the nine justices have to agree for the court to take a case, so Monday’s rejection could be a sign that the court’s four conservative justices aren’t interested in wading into personhood, a concept that has divided opponents of abortion rights. [...]
The justices do not explain their decisions to accept or deny cases, and did not offer an explanation for declining to hear the personhood suit.
Even aside from yesterday’s decision, personhood activists have not had much recent success. Oklahoma lawmakers failed to bring a personhood initiative up for a vote in their House earlier this year, effectively killing the legislation. And in other states across the country, personhood groups have repeatedly struggled to advance their agenda, failing to collect enough signatures to land personhood amendments on the ballot in Nevada and Florida and losing the popular vote in Colorado and Mississippi.