Justice For Now: U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Louisiana Abortion Law


The 2014 law mandates that abortion clinics have admitting privileges to hospitals within 30 miles and adopted other patient protection measures. The appeals court denied January 18 a request for a review by all the judges.

Benjamin Clapper of Louisiana Right to Life said he was not concerned by Roberts' break with the other conservative justices, suggesting the chief justice might eventually vote to let the law take effect.

"Justice Kavanaugh seems to think that doctors, if they tried hard enough, they might be able to get admitting privileges in 45 days, but that's just not how that works", Tu said.

Pro-lifers said the goal of the law was to make abortion safer for women who experience complications.

Roberts' vote in the Louisiana case was the fourth time in recent weeks that he has held the decisive vote on 5-4 outcomes that otherwise split the court's conservative and liberal justices.

Yet it is unavoidable that the fate of reproductive autonomy as a fundamental right rests in the hands of one man: Chief Justice John Roberts. "The court should not prevent state legislators from doing the job they were elected by their constituents to do". The abortion juggernaut refuses to allow any restriction on abortion.

"We're relieved. We know that many women across Louisiana are also deeply relieved that the court exercised its authority to block implementation of this law", said Alanah Odoms Hebert, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. The law was almost identical to the Texas provision the Court had declared unconstitutional two and a half years prior. Four doctors now perform abortions at three clinics in the state.

Kennedy, a conservative who retired in July 2018, had voted to preserve abortion rights in 1992 and again in the 2016 Texas case. "By voting to allow the Louisiana law to go into effect, four justices gave the okay to states and lower courts to limit Roe by whatever means necessary". Current cases are asking courts to recognize the unborn as persons. Unlike in cases that are argued and decided, the votes come with little explanation. Many were created to present a direct challenge to Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established a nationwide right to abortion. But in his dissent he said otherwise. Justices could decide to bring the case before the court as soon as this spring. "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 four Justices who would have allowed the state to enforce the law on its own timetable were: Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas.

A key issue before the Justices will be whether the majority of that appeals court - the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit - failed to follow the legal standard that the Supreme Court used in ruling against the Texas law on hospital privileges for abortion doctors.

"It's actually the first invitation to the new court to cut back on abortion rights".

Roberts takes his institutional role seriously and is a defender of the federal judiciary at a time when Trump often criticizes judges and accuses the courts of political motives.

SHAPIRO: That's professor Mary Ziegler of Florida State University College of Law. There's no guarantee that Roberts will be with his liberal colleagues then. In 2006, he voted to uphold a ban on partial-birth abortion.

His vote in the abortion case was particularly noteworthy because it represented a turnaround from his vote in a 2016 abortion case in which he had joined two other conservatives in dissent when the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 to strike down similar regulations targeting abortion doctors in Texas. Had Kavanaugh written that Louisiana "pinky promised to not violate the law", his reasoning would have been no less absurd.

The Supreme Court is the final defense against risky and unconstitutional attacks on basic rights and freedoms that affect the most important parts of our lives. Yet, in 2000, he was the author of a 7-2 decision that reaffirmed the Miranda case.

The annual cutoff for cases has passed, so this matter would be heard late this year, with a decision likely in early 2020.