Port: North Dakota’s Supreme Court is close to manufacturing a right to an abortion in the state constitution


MINOT, N.D. — Back in 2020, it was clear that the North Dakota Supreme Court wanted to impose, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a moratorium on residential evictions, so the court invented a premise that allowed them to do so.

Under the auspices of their authority as administrators of the state court system, the justices stopped residential evictions . That this was an explicitly political decision was clear from the court’s decision to put a moratorium on residential evictions. Commercial evictions and other sorts of proceedings were still allowed to go forward.

This was a policy decision — again, a political decision — that the legislative or executive branches should have made. But the court made it instead. The justices wanted a certain political outcome, and they found a way to get it.

Which seems very much in line with how Chief Justice Jon Jensen sees his job. “I think judges like to help people,” Jensen said shortly after being sworn into the court back in 2017 . “And I think you’re no longer an advocate but you’re in some ways finding the legal solution, but the solution.”

That’s a fundamentally incorrect view of the role of the courts in our society, yet it’s showing up in how Jensen’s court is doing its job, specifically in the post-Roe v. Wade litigation over North Dakota’s near-total ban on abortions.

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