Events

Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Abortion Law

The Associated Press is reporting that the United States Supreme Court (the highest court in the land for those whose knowledge of the judiciary starts and ends with Hot Bench).

According to the AP:

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.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined with his four more liberal colleagues in ruling that the law requiring doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violates the abortion right the court first announced in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The decision raised some eyebrows because Chief Justice John Roberts aligned himself with the majority decision. Much is being made about Roberts siding with the liberal members of the court. NPR tweeted:

Chief Justice John Roberts was appointed to the Supreme Court by George W. Bush in 2005

After a federal court ruled against WWE Hall of Famer Donald Trump’s asylum policy, the Donald tweeted his criticism of the judge, labeling the judge “an Obama judge.” Chief Justice took it upon himself to correct the man who pitted his wrestler Bobby Lashley against Vince McMahon’s wrestler Umaga at WrestleMania XXIII in the historic “Battle of the Billionaires.” The BBC mentioned Roberts’s comments:

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Chief Justice Roberts told the Associated Press.

“What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

Speaking on the eve of America’s Thanksgiving holiday, he said an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for”.

As a former attorney (see my memoir Laughing All the Way to the Bank (Robbery): How an Attorney Survived Prison for all the glorious details) I’m always fascinated by the media’s description of Supreme Court justices as “liberal” or “conservative.” To be certain, Presidents make their appointments based on a judge’s prior decisions, but once he or she hits the Supreme Court, there’s no guarantee of how a justice will rule on a particular issue. Roberts has sided with the Supreme Court’s more “conservative” justices at times, and as seen by this decision, its “liberal” justices.

An AP report explained the reasoning behind the majority decision:

The Louisiana law is virtually identical to one in Texas that the court struck down in 2016.

“The result in this case is controlled by our decision four years ago invalidating a nearly identical Texas law,” Roberts wrote, although he did not join the opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer for the other liberals.

NBC News provided some background on the case:

Two Louisiana doctors and a medical clinic sued to get the law overturned. They said it would leave only one doctor at a single clinic to provide services for nearly 10,000 women who seek abortions in the state each year.

The challengers said the requirement was identical to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. With the vote of then-Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court ruled that Texas imposed an obstacle on women seeking access to abortion services without providing any medical benefits. Kennedy was succeeded by the more conservative Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by President DonaldTrump, who was among the four dissenters Monday.

MSN.com provided more details on the case:

The Louisiana law, which was enacted in 2014, requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The law’s supporters said the law protects the health and safety of women seeking abortions, and that the requirements for obtaining admitting privileges helps ensure the competence of doctors. Opponents disputed that, saying that hospitalizations after abortions are rare, that women would receive medical care at hospitals whether their doctors had admitting privileges or not and that abortion providers are often unable to obtain admitting privileges for reasons unrelated to their competence.

This was the Supreme Court’s first abortion ruling under the Supreme Court’s two Trump appointees. Considering the number of controversial state laws regarding abortion currently on the books, you can expect more Supreme Court hearings.

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