Supreme Court Blocks Abortion Restrictions in Louisiana

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The Supreme Court on Thursday in a 5-4 decision blocked a Louisiana law that would have, in effect, barred most abortions.

The statute, which requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic, is essentially identical to a Texas law struck down as unconstitutional in the 2016 Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.

Chief Justice John Roberts split from what is considered the court's conservative branch to join the high court's liberal wing -- Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - in granting the stay.

Nevertheless, four of the far right justices dissented: Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh, those last two showing the impact of justices selected by Donald Trump.

"Compared to the majority opinion Justice Kennedy joined three years ago striking down a deeply similar Texas law, the fact that Justice Kavanaugh dissented drives home that, on abortion cases, the chief justice is now the swing vote", Vladeck said.


June Medical Services v. Gee is the first abortion rights case to come before the Roberts Court since Kavanaugh's embarrassing confirmation fight-and no, the Planned Parenthood Medicaid funding case doesn't count, Susan Collins.

Kavanaugh's opinion might at some point be seen as a compromise. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the law.

In the Louisiana case, the appellate court charged that most abortion providers had "sat on their hands", not making any attempt to meet the safety standard.

Thus, while Roberts' role in joining the court's four liberals to block the Louisiana law is significant, and determined the outcome, his motives are only a matter of speculation. It presented a statute that we all knew was unconstitutional, and asked SCOTUS to rule in favor of the law simply because lots of people really, really oppose abortion. Brett Kavanaugh will vote to strike down Roe v. Wade the minute he gets the opportunity, and activists around the country should already have a strategy ready to pressure Roberts to uphold the Court's legitimacy (again) once this inevitability arrives on the Supreme Court's docket.

"Justice Kavanaugh seems to think that doctors, if they tried hard enough, they might be able to get admitting privileges in 45 days, but that's just not how that works", Tu said.


A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit earlier this week stopped the execution and ordered expedited briefing in the case. The conservative states that would outlaw abortion if Roe fell will then simply pass TRAP laws so onerous that almost every abortion provider in those states will be forced out of business. "The abortion lobby's relentless opposition to regulations like these exposes the industry's drive for profits above all else".

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, while relieved by the court's vote, said it "illustrates a sobering reminder: The thread that women's rights hang by is dangerously thin".

On Thursday, a half hour before the court acted on the Louisiana law, Roberts voted with the conservatives to deny a Muslim death row inmate's plea to have his imam with him for his execution in Alabama.

Most court-watchers expect Roberts to side with his fellow conservatives on a wide range of issues including business disputes, challenges to Trump's actions and divisive social issues beyond abortion. The law was challenged nearly immediately upon passage and had been held from taking effect by legal challenges since it was passed. "Essentially, he argues that there isn't yet any evidence that the Louisiana law will have any immediate effect on abortion access".

The Supreme Court is the final defense against risky and unconstitutional attacks on basic rights and freedoms that affect the most important parts of our lives.


Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represented the challengers, hailed the ruling, saying, "The Supreme Court has stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women".

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