Supreme Court blocks Louisiana abortion restrictions, handing anti-abortion movement a temporary setback

  • In Politics
  • 2019-02-08 03:10:55Z

WASHINGTON - A deeply divided Supreme Court Thursday temporarily blocked abortion restrictions in Louisiana that critics complained were virtually identical to those struck down by the justices in 2016.

Although the court's new conservative majority may be poised to uphold more limits on abortion in the future, the Louisiana law's similarity to one the justices thwarted in Texas less than three years ago apparently sealed its fate, at least for now.

The court still could uphold the law after further review, giving President Donald Trump something to show for his 2016 pledge to appoint "pro-life justices."

The action gave abortion rights proponents, as well as women seeking procedures, a reprieve from a law that critics said threatened to leave just one abortion clinic and provider in business to serve an estimated 10,000 women.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's four liberals in blocking the law. Four conservatives objected, and new Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a dissent on his own behalf. He said the law should be implemented now so that both sides can find out how many abortion clinics and providers survive the new restrictions.

Without letting the law take effect, Kavanaugh wrote, the court likely will have to hear the case next fall before deciding whether enough abortion clinics and providers remain in business. That, he said, "will take far longer and be no more beneficial than the approach suggested here."

The Louisiana law requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. That was one of two requirements of the Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down as burdensome in a landmark 5-4 ruling when Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy held the deciding vote.

Louisiana officials claimed their law would not have the same deleterious effects that the Texas law threatened, thereby making it constitutional under the Supreme Court's "undue burden" test. The law previously was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, dominated by conservatives, including five appointed by Trump.

Since the Supreme Court's 2016 decision, Kennedy retired and two Trump nominees - Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh - gave abortion opponents hope for a reversal on laws affecting abortion.

Kavanaugh, who succeeded Kennedy in October, has been viewed as the crucial fifth conservative vote. He has praised former chief justice William Rehnquist's dissent from the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and he dissented from his federal appeals court's 2017 decision allowing an undocumented teenager in government custody to get an abortion.

But during his confirmation hearing last September, Kavanaugh referred to landmark Supreme Court decisions legalizing and affirming abortion rights as "precedent on precedent."

Abortion rights groups argued that the Texas decision set a precedent from which the justices could not retreat. The opinion by Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, in which Kennedy joined the court's liberals, said the law would force too many abortion clinics to close, leaving the state unable to handle up to 70,000 abortions annually. That burden on women, the court said, was unconstitutional without equal or greater health benefits.

Since that 5-3 ruling, which occurred after Associate Justice Antonin Scalia's death left the court shorthanded, laws requiring hospital admitting privileges have been struck down or unenforced in several other states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Only Missouri, North Dakota and Utah still have similar laws on the books.

Louisiana's statute was passed in 2014 but struck down by a federal district judge after trial three years later. It was resurrected in a 2-1 ruling by a federal appeals court panel, and the full appeals court later voted 9-6 against hearing the abortion rights group's appeal. Trump's judges all voted with the majority.

The justices still are considering whether to hear another abortion case challenging an Indiana law that bans abortions sought because of race, sex or disability. Another part of that law requires fetal remains to be buried or cremated. It was signed by Gov. Mike Pence before he was elected vice president.

Following Kavanaugh's calamitous Senate confirmation, which he survived by a narrow 50-48 vote amid an allegation of sexual assault during high school, Roberts has tried to keep the court far away from controversy. But that effort hasn't been entirely successful.

The court will hear two cases later this month challenging the use of a Christian cross to honor World War I veterans. In March, it will hear two cases challenging partisan election maps in North Carolina and Maryland.

A case challenging the Trump administration's effort to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census may be granted for April or May. Gun rights are on tap for the fall, and cases on immigration and LGBT rights may not be far behind.

More: President Trump bets big on Supreme Court to uphold controversial policies after lower court losses

More: Supreme Court's actions on transgender troops, gun rights, public prayer signal conservative trend

More: Supreme Court: Conservative groups see opportunities to cut regulation, shore up property rights

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court blocks Louisiana abortion restrictions, handing anti-abortion movement a temporary setback


More Related News

Father of US-born woman who joined IS sues over citizenship
Father of US-born woman who joined IS sues over citizenship
  • World
  • 2019-02-22 03:56:26Z

The father of an Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State group in Syria sued Thursday to bring her home after the Trump administration took the extraordinary step of declaring that she was not a US citizen. Hoda Muthana, 24, says that she regrets joining the extremists and is willing to face prosecution

Climate threat doubter is leading effort to advise Trump
Climate threat doubter is leading effort to advise Trump

The Trump administration is exploring the idea of forming a special committee to look at climate change and security risks, with the effort being coordinated by a 79-year-old physicist who rejects mainstream climate science. A memo to those federal officials asks them to direct any questions to William Happer, a member of Trump's National Security Council and a well-known critic of mainstream climate science findings.

Trump: Release of Russia probe report up to attorney general
Trump: Release of Russia probe report up to attorney general

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the newly confirmed US attorney general should be the person who decides whether to publicly release the much-anticipated Russia report, which could be completed as early as next week. The remarks came as CNN reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has headed the probe since May 2017, could deliver his final report next week, possibly when Trump travels to Asia for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Asked at the White House whether Mueller should release the text while the president is out of the country, a subdued Trump said "that will be totally up to the new attorney general," Bill Barr.

Number of hate groups hits 20-year high amid rise in white supremacy, report finds
Number of hate groups hits 20-year high amid rise in white supremacy, report finds

The nation's demographic shift has emboldened white supremacists, the Southern Poverty Law Center finds in its annual survey.

Trump criticizes California over lawsuit against border wall
Trump criticizes California over lawsuit against border wall

President Donald Trump is criticizing California's lead role in a multistate lawsuit challenging his emergency declaration to pay for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. On Twitter Tuesday, Trump noted last week's ...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Politics

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.