US Supreme Court Strikes Down Restrictive Abortion Law

Ruben Fields
June 30, 2020

Medical Services LLC v. Russo, the case before the court, was whether a 2014 Louisiana law, which said abortion providers must have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals, could stand.

But Roberts gave them hope that a different challenge to abortion rights might succeed in the future in the conservative court.

Were this Court to again face the question decided by Roe in 1973-whether the Constitution protects women from government interference in abortion as a matter of substantive due process-Roberts could well apply the same logic to justify leaving Roe and the numerous cases that applied it alone.

The Louisiana law is just one of several abortion rights cases that will be appealed to the Supreme Court, which include bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected and the nearly total ban passed in Alabama. But he went on: "The question today however is not whether Whole Woman's Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case". Four years ago, on a 5-3 vote, the Court struck down a similar Texas law, with now-retired Justice Kennedy in the "swing" position.

To the extent Kavanaugh took issue with the constitutional test for abortion restrictions, he rejected the use of a balancing test for abortion rights-that is, one that weighs the interests of the woman against the interests of the state. "Therefore Louisiana's law can not stand under our precedents".

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

The legal principle of precedents governing the court's decision-making "requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike", Roberts wrote. Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh dissented from the majority.

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The decision means that the three abortion clinics Louisiana has can continue to operate.

"With this win, the clinics in Louisiana can stay open to serve the one million women of reproductive age in the state", she said in a statement.

"The Louisiana law was directed toward the simple goal of protecting women from danger by placing the most minimal restrictions possible on an abortion industry that insists on laissez-faire for itself and its profits", said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

The high court considered whether the state law violated the constitutional rights of pregnant people.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said, "Today's ruling is a bitter disappointment".

In the equal rights case, both Roberts and Gorsuch sided with their progressive colleagues, stunning conservatives who did not anticipate that a Trump appointee would support gay and transgender rights. But to understand why both sides may well be wrong here, it's worth examining how Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh, in particular, justified their votes in June Medical. The court's four liberals agreed, though they disagreed the restrictions were improper. "I respectfully dissent", Justice Elena Kagan wrote for herself and the court's four liberals.

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