On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court revealed their decision to do away with a Louisiana state law that could have had the effect of leaving only one abortion clinic open in the entire state. The law in question would have demanded that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals, but the net effect of the legislation would have been a punitively increased burden on abortion clinics, which could have sparked closures. The Supreme Court’s Chief Justice John Roberts — an appointee of George W. Bush — joined with the court’s four liberal justices in striking down the Louisiana legislation.
JUST IN: Chief Justice John Roberts has sided with the liberal justices on the Supreme Court to block a controversial Louisiana abortion law that critics say would have closed nearly every clinic in the state https://t.co/PdH5uC29uA
— CNN (@CNN) June 29, 2020
Both of Trump’s nominees to the court, including Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, voted in favor of upholding the restrictive Louisiana legislation. Roberts is traditionally conservative-leaning, but in this case, the Associated Press notes that the Louisiana legislation under consideration was “virtually identical” to Texas legislation that the court struck down in 2016, and Roberts’s decision appears to have been shaped by respect for established court precedent. Roberts wrote that the “result in this case is controlled by our decision four years ago invalidating a nearly identical Texas law.”
Breyer writes the lead opinion for the four liberal justices. Roberts concurs in the judgment on grounds of stare decisis, finding that Whole Woman's Health (from which he dissented) obviously controls. Here is Roberts' kicker. https://t.co/QGBYA7716K pic.twitter.com/QAYFPcbTll
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) June 29, 2020
The Associated Press summarizes:
‘The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics, reasserting a commitment to abortion rights over fierce opposition from dissenting conservative justices in the first big abortion case of the Trump era… The presence of the new justices is what fueled hopes among abortion opponents, and fears on the other side, that the Supreme Court would be more likely to uphold restrictions.’
— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) June 29, 2020
The case had ended up at the Supreme Court after the legal team representing abortion clinics in Louisiana had filed an emergency appeal and requested that the law be put on hold while case was considered by the court. Putting the law on hold would have helped allow the clinics to remain open, and Roberts also joined the four liberal justices on the court in deciding to put the implementation of the law on hold while they considered the case. Now, the law will not be put back in force.
So much for the Kavanaugh and Gorsuch promises to take Supreme Court precedent seriously. Only Roberts concluded that the Court’s 2016 decision striking down the Texas law, a decision the Chief thought mistaken, should be followed anyway.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) June 29, 2020