Kavanaugh Gives Mixed Signals in First Supreme Court Abortion Ruling - Hit & Run

Kavanaugh Gives Mixed Signals in First Supreme Court Abortion Ruling - Hit & Run

The divide between states supporting reproductive rights and states seeking to restrict those rights keeps growing, with a raft of new state laws that either protect or undercut abortion access, depending on 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.

"If the supreme court allows this law to stand, blatantly denying its own recent precedent, it throws into disarray the whole system of judicial review", said Katherine Ragsdale, the interim CEO of the National Abortion Federation.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the high court's liberal bloc to prohibit the law's implementation over the dissent of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 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. "Gee-Order.pdf">5-4 decision on the admitting privileges statute.

The law is very similar to a Texas measure, Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, that the justices struck down three years ago, arguing that there was no evidence that the requirement for hospital admitting privileges helped protect the health of pregnant women.

He noted that the law has a 45-day transition period before taking effect, during which "both the doctors and the relevant hospitals could act expeditiously and in good faith to reach a definitive conclusion about whether those three doctors can obtain admitting privileges", and therefore it was premature to block the law before competing predictions about the law's impact have been proven or disproven.

Contrary to his vote on this case, Roberts has a history of affirming pro-life thought. When Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy retired previous year, Trump nominated Kavanaugh, who barely received Senate confirmation after a contentious battle focused on his abortion views and sexual assault allegations.

The Supreme Court recognized a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalized the procedure nationwide in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

After the ruling, some Democrats seized on Kavanaugh's vote as proof that he was not following through on his assurances at his confirmation hearing to respect past Supreme Court decisions on abortion.

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Since then a number of conservative states have enacted new abortion restrictions that could lead to legal challenges that allow the Supreme Court to sharply curtail the right to abortion procedures.

The law had been scheduled to take effect Monday, but Justice Samuel Alito delayed the effective date at least through Thursday to give the justices more time.

Thursday night's Louisiana ruling may have only delayed the coming upheaval.

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.

William Jacobson, a Cornell law professor and conservative legal commentator, concluded it was "unlikely the law ever is going to be allowed to go into effect in the current configuration of the court". "If a law does not amount to an unconstitutional burden unless it does something as dramatic as close 20 clinics in a geographic area as large as Texas, nearly every law would be constitutional".

The high court has now agreed to grant that pause in the litigation, but it could still refuse to hear the case and leave the lower court decision in place. Plaintiffs, however, have argued that two of the state's three clinics would close if the law took effect.

Translation: The Fifth Circuit majority threw the rule of law and proper appeals court procedure out the window.

The court, of course, could accept the Louisiana case for review next term, reopening the abortion debate, and perhaps even entertaining the possibility of reversing Roe.

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