Abortion case shows Roberts firmly at Supreme Court’s center
Abortion case shows Roberts firmly at Supreme Court’s center
Pablo Martinez Monsivais Associated Press File
10 February, 2019, 14:42
The law in question was Louisiana's Unsafe Abortion Protection Act of 2014, which required that doctors performing abortions must "h$3 ave active admitting privileges to a hospital that is located not further than thirty miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced and that provides obstetrical or gynecological health care services".
In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court granted February 7 a temporary stay blocking the law while it is adjudicated in lower courts.
Cillizza: Let's start simple: How did this case get to the Supreme Court? In that case, Chief Justice Roberts was in the minority; he would have upheld the Texas provision. Overturning a Fifth Circuit opinion, the justices invalidated a section mandating an abortion doctor to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
But the federal appeals court in New Orleans rejected those claims, doubting that any clinics would have to close and said the doctors had not tried hard enough to establish relationships with local hospitals.
Trump had pledged during the campaign to appoint "pro-life" justices - judges who are opposed to abortion rights - and abortion opponents are hoping the more conservative bench will be more open to upholding abortion restrictions.
If the law took effect and the doctors couldn't obtain admitting privileges during the transition period, then the doctors could file a complaint or motion for preliminary injunction.
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In dissent, Kavanaugh said that the Court should have allowed implementation of the law to resolve the dispute over its effects on access. "Precedent" takes a backseat to conservative ideology, and Kavanaugh joining three other conservative justices to rule that Louisiana does not have to adhere to the precedent set in the Texas case is the clearest indicator of how the conservative Supreme Court really views its job. Should Roberts follow course on other issues, in essence stepping into the Justice Anthony Kennedy role as a persuadable justice, President Trump's effort to refashion the court for a generation will be diminished. Planned Parenthood v. Casey prohibits abortion regulations that place any "undue burden" on women. Louisiana has three abortion clinics and four doctors who perform abortions at those facilities.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed it, holding in a 2-1 decision that this Louisiana law was different than the Texas law invalidated in WWH and that this law does not run afoul of Supreme Court precedent.
Much is being made of the most recently confirmed justice, Brett Kavanaugh, voting with the minority and writing his own dissent.
"The abortion industry, over the past four decades, has fought against every common-sense health standard", said Benjamin Clapper, executive director for Louisiana Right to Life. It will be the Roberts Court that does it, after oral arguments and deliberation. That order, called an administrative stay, was necessary so that the justices could review court filings from each party.
The execution aside, the recent votes are not likely to be the court's last word on asylum, military service by transgender people or the abortion clinic legislation. Increasing that burden is what conservative states have been doing for years, requiring things like waiting periods and forced ultrasounds, or imposing so many unnecessary regulations on providers that nearly no one can meet them, leaving states with only a tiny number of providers. 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.
"We know there are four justices who were willing to allow a law to take effect even though the Supreme Court struck down an identical law less than three years ago" said Jennifer Dalven, who heads the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project. Justices could decide to bring the case before the court as soon as this spring.
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