Supreme Court blocks Louisiana abortion clinic regulations

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked a Louisiana abortion law on Thursday, issuing a 5-4 decision in favor of placing a hold on enforcement of the law to allow for a full review of the case.

Even Louisiana acknowledged that its law - which requires doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals - is almost identical to a Texas law that the Supreme Court in 2016 found to be unconstitutional.

The majority of five justices included Chief Justice John Roberts, who leans conservative but has become the closest thing to a swing vote in controversial cases since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who frequently broke ties on the divided court. And, it could show how these Justices will come down on the greatest issue of our time. But dissent signals Kavanaugh's openness to state restrictions on abortion rights with limitations and without overturning Roe v. Wade outright.

The court will nearly certainly agree to give the case a full review in the autumn, and at that point it could issue a formal opinion affirming a lower-court's decision to uphold the law - and opening the door for similar restrictions to be enacted in other states. "The Texas law would have shuttered some 20 clinics, whereas Louisiana's law would shutter only one or two of the state's three clinics".

"The Supreme Court has stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women", said the president of the abortion-rights-backing Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, in a statement.

And that, says Litman, is the ideal cover for conservative judges to use for the next novel anti-abortion regulation that comes along. The other four judges are members of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had refused to put the law on hold. That Roberts voted with the Court's liberals suggests he could take a measured, cautious approach to abortion cases in the near term.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's dissenting opinion on the case of June Medical Services v.

Kavanaugh wrote a dissent that said he would have let the law go into effect because the appeals court had said "the new law would not affect the availability of abortions from. the four doctors who now perform abortions at Louisiana's three abortion clinics".

If abortionists cannot, obtain admitting privileges, Kavanaugh continued, "even the State acknowledges that the law as applied might be deemed to impose an undue burden for purposes of Whole Woman's Health", and the abortionists could then bring a new case.

"The case largely turns on the intensely factual question whether the three doctors [in Louisiana].can obtain admitting privileges". Some women, especially from the southern part of the state, would have to travel hours to obtain a procedure - an "undue burden", say pro-abortion rights groups.

The Fifth Circuit's decision to allow the Louisiana law to take effect, is, as my colleague Imani Gandy explains here, bonkers.

But the Supreme Court's conservatives, this time including Roberts, overruled.

Roberts actually voted against the court's 2016 Hellerstedt decision that struck down a Texas law requiring admitting privileges that are exactly the same as those in Louisiana.

In a profound display of missing the point, Kavanaugh wrote at length about how the effect of the Louisiana statute might not really be as bad as it's cracked up to be. He noted that abortions performed in Louisiana are "safe procedures" with "very few complications" and that in the "extremely rare" cases where serious complications arise, Louisiana law requires clinics to have transfer agreements with local hospitals, where patients are routinely treated by hospital staff. Susan Collins everything from "a raging fool" to an utter dupe for helping to put him on the Supreme Court.

Still, Kavanaugh could have said nothing, like the other three justices in the minority. In other words, Kavanaugh would let play out in Louisiana what originally played out in Texas before the Supreme Court eventually blocked HB 2-and thousands of people who needed abortions would have found themselves scrambling or unable to access them entirely.

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