UPDATE at 4:21 p.m. July 28: According to Associated Press, Berger and Moore have submitted a brief to Judge Osteen asking him to vacate his earlier ruling that blocked N.C.’s 20-week abortion ban. They argued that his ruling is no longer reflective of federal law after the Dobbs decision reversed precedent established by Roe and Casey. Osteen is collecting briefs by all parties involved before he makes a decision on whether or not to maintain his 2019 ruling.
UPDATE at 4 p.m. June 24: Joint letter from Berger and Moore demand Attorney General Josh Stein “”take all necessary legal action to lift the injunction currently barring the full enforcement of our State’s abortion restrictions.” Senate Leader Berger added, “Attorney General Josh Stein must immediately act to enforce North Carolina’s 20-week abortion ban. Any hesitation or dereliction to do so betrays our most vulnerable and is not in the best interest of North Carolinians.”
Both of North Carolina’s top legislature leaders — House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland; and Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham — vowed to fight to reinstate the abortion laws on the books, some of which were blocked by federal precedent in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Statements by both also indicated they have no plans for further abortion-related legislation before the end of the current session, which is likely to end in a matter of days.
Berger spokesperson Lauren Horsh told CJ that they have to ask Attorney General Josh Stein to seek action overturning prior court rulings that nullified state laws based on Roe and Casey. If he does not take this action, they said they are prepared to look at other options. A separate U.S. Supreme Court opinion, on Berger v. NAACP, decided on June 23 that North Carolina legislators could represent the state to defend state laws. This could become relevant if Stein refuses to work to reinstate the abortion laws in the state statutes.
Berger’s and Moore’s statements can be read below:
Moore’s full June 24, 2022, statement:
“Today’s decision from the United States Supreme Court is long overdue and a major win for protecting life!” Moore said in his statement. “The end of Roe v. Wade rightfully returns authority back to the states to determine abortion law. While I remain unequivocally pro-life, the short budget adjustment session does not afford us sufficient time to take up the issue. However, North Carolinians can rest assured that we are taking the necessary steps to ensure that current restrictions on the books will be enforced. North Carolinians can also expect pro-life protections to be a top priority of the legislature when we return to our normal legislative session in January.”
Berger’s full June 24, 2022, statement:
“The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs returns policy decisions regarding abortion to the states, which is where those decisions should be made. I remain committed to the right to life and protecting the unborn. North Carolina’s law banning abortions after 20 weeks is currently unenforceable. We will take immediate action to ensure North Carolina’s late-term abortion ban is reinstated. Senate Republicans will determine whether other steps are appropriate to strengthen our pro-life laws, but I do not anticipate legislative action prior to adjournment.”