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Roberts Votes w/ Liberals as Supreme Court Blocks La. Abortion Limits

10 February, 2019, 14:41 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Pablo Martinez Monsivais  Associated Press  File

A divided Supreme Court stopped Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics in a test of the conservative court's views on abortion rights.

The law at issue, Act 620, would require any physician providing abortion services in Louisiana to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the procedure.

In the 5-4 ruling, Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the other conservatives on the bench. Angela Hill. "I'm concerned about doing what MS wants us to do".

Clark said if her critics weren't griping about Kavanaugh, they would be targeting Collins for something else.

In late December, Roberts joined the liberals to keep Trump's new asylum policy from taking effect. "The court should not prevent state legislators from doing the job they were elected by their constituents to do".

According to the newest Supreme Court justice, there are now four doctors in Louisiana that perform abortions at the state's three abortions clinics. The court's action, however, is only a pause. One of the four doctors has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. It was modeled after a similar law in Texas, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016. Similarly, the 5th Circuit acknowledged that it did not have any evidence that the Louisiana admitting-privileges requirement would help the health or safety of any women, even though it created a burden on providers and their patients. In our system of justice, the model is that appeals courts only decide questions of law based on the factual record before them.

Most important is what the decision tells us about the Supreme Court's shifting alliances.

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In his dissent, Kavanaugh wrote that if the remaining three doctors could not obtain admitting privileges and one or two of the clinics had to close, "the new law might be deemed to impose an undue burden".

In his dissent, Kavanaugh cited the law's 45-day window for doctors to obtain the admitting privileges to stay within the law. This Louisiana law is modeled off this Texas law, and the four conservatives who voted to let Louisiana's law stand quite literally ruled that Supreme Court precedent does not have to be obeyed in this arena.

The Louisiana clinics had argued that they would have been forced to stop performing abortions immediately and that clinics, once closed, are hard to reopen.

The four more conservative justices, including Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, would have allowed it to take effect. While a federal judge struck down the law, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit reversed the decision in a 2-1 ruling in September. A decision on whether the high court will take on the abortion clinic legislation could come this spring. If precedent means anything, thenWhole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt has already determined that the Louisiana law is unconstitutional. There's no guarantee that Roberts will be with his liberal colleagues then. And yet. Not only is his first abortion rights vote to do the opposite, he authors the dissenting opinion, inviting states to ignore abortion rights precedent like Whole Woman's Health. "I would be very surprised if he regards the Court's 2016 decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (from which he dissented) as sound precedent".

Justices often feel bound by a prior decision of the court, even one they disagree with, at least until the court formally takes on a case to consider overruling the earlier decision.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, applauded the Supreme Court's stay, saying in written comments, "While this particular ruling thankfully falls on the right side of history, it illustrates a sobering reminder: the thread that women's rights hang by is dangerously thin in so many places across the country". In that case, Chief Justice Roberts was in the minority; he would have upheld the Texas provision.

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