On Monday, October 23, 2023, the Arizona Capitol Times reported that Arizona Supreme Court Justice William Montgomery is facing scrutiny for his past comments on Planned Parenthood, with some questioning whether he can impartially hear a pending case on the legality of abortion in Arizona.
Montgomery, who was appointed to the state’s high court in 2019, previously served as Maricopa County attorney and made public statements in 2017 calling Planned Parenthood “responsible for the greatest generational genocide known to man” and claiming that the organization’s “business model requires abortions.”
Despite these comments, Montgomery has declined to recuse himself from the case, stating that he will consider the facts and law without passion or prejudice. However, some have expressed concerns about his ability to remain impartial, given his past statements. The Supreme Court is deciding if Arizona can ban abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which allowed women the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus can survive outside the womb. Planned Parenthood is one of the litigants in the case, and the organization is now taking a closer look at Montgomery’s past comments.
“Planned Parenthood Arizona believes that all litigants are entitled to have their cases heard by judges who are not biased against them,” said Kelley Dupps, the organization’s senior director of public policy and government relations. “We are evaluating the recent reporting that may impact our case in front of the Arizona Supreme Court.”
Pima County Attorney Laura Conover, who is arguing the 15-week law takes precedence, said she is not concerned about Montgomery’s decision, while current Attorney General Kris Mayes took a more nuanced approach, stating that Justice Montgomery can decide for himself whether it is appropriate to recuse himself.
Montgomery’s views on abortion are not new, he argued in a court case in 2012 that Arizona has a legal right to ban abortions, even with the 1973 Supreme Court ruling about a woman’s constitutional rights. He said lawmakers are entitled to “due deference” in making decisions in this area.
Montgomery’s past comments have been controversial, and his nomination for the court was met with opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, who claimed that he discriminated against same-sex couples in his role as Maricopa County attorney.
One notable incident cited by the groups was Montgomery’s refusal to provide legal assistance to a same-sex couple adopting a child in 2015, despite a federal judge ruling that Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Montgomery argued that the ruling did not grant the same adoption rights to gay people, but his attempt to repeal the requirement for his office to provide free legal aid was ultimately vetoed by Governor Ducey.
Source: Arizona Capitol Times