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Supreme Court Disappoints Pro-Lifers, Halts Louisiana Abortion Law

Supreme Court Disappoints Pro-Lifers, Halts Louisiana Abortion Law

7 blocked a Louisiana law that required doctors carrying out abortions to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing the dissent.

On Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court's four liberal justices in putting Louisiana's law on hold. The Court has changed since the case as Trump has appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch to replace the late-Antonin Scalia and Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat of Kennedy, who retired in June.

Kavanaugh argues that since the Louisiana law has a 45-day grace period, then if doctors who perform abortions could get admitting privileges at a hospital then there was no "undue burden" on women. Justice Kavanaugh was the only member of the court to write an opinion, and the other three conservatives in the minority did not sign on to his dissent.

Roberts may yet determine, as the divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit did in upholding the Louisiana law, that the Supreme Court's earlier decision requires a fact-intensive examination of conditions in the state.

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.

Now, that Louisiana law may be heading to the Supreme Court.

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.

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

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Louisiana now has three abortion clinics and four abortion doctors, only one of whom has the admitting privileges required by Louisiana's (yet to be enforced) law. Planned Parenthood v. Casey prohibits abortion regulations that place any "undue burden" on women. "The Supreme Court rightfully refused to uphold a brazen and unconstitutional attempt to ignore identical cases that are meant to shutter abortion clinics in the state, making Roe v. Wade obsolete".

And, in the death penalty case, Justice Elena Kagan wrote a powerful dissent that said her conservative colleagues were so intent on hastening executions that they were willing to overlook a "core principle" of religious neutrality.

"We will continue to do all that we legally can to protect Louisiana women and the unborn", said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. That may sound innocuous, but it's a TRAP (Targeted Restriction of Abortion Providers) law aimed at shutting down abortion clinics.

The Louisiana case has been watched closely by both sides in the almost half-century-old constitutional conflict over abortion, to see whether the arrival of new conservative Justices on the Court would change the dynamic on the issue.

The court on Thursday granted an emergency application by Shreveport-based abortion provider Hope Medical Group for Women to stop Louisiana's law from taking effect. The same is true of the Affordable Care Act, where Roberts declined to join the conservatives in striking down the entire law, instead crafting a compromise that upheld most of it while allowing states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion (thereby denying health coverage to millions of poor Americans). Going from that title, you might find it hard to guess that the Court just handed down a ruling in favor of abortion access. His conservative views on abortion, said to have been shown when he was a lower court judge, were a major factor in opposition to his nomination to the Court a year ago by President Trump. Of the 11 active Republican appointees, only one, a George W. Bush appointee, voted to rehear the case.

"The law has not yet taken effect, so the case comes to us in the context of a pre-enforcement facial challenge", he noted, explaining that there could always be a later challenge if necessary when the law went into effect.

The U.S. Supreme Court could, at some point, reaffirm its support for Roe and reject any infringement of its protections.

There are few high-profile cases on the court's docket this year, seemingly by design, after Kavanaugh's tumultuous confirmation hearings.

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