Brett Kavanaugh and John Roberts Reject Two Cases Involving Planned Parenthood

Justice Thomas Accuses Colleagues of Avoiding Abortion Issues as SCOTUS Passes on Planned Parenthood Defunding Appeal

Justice Thomas Accuses Colleagues of Avoiding Abortion Issues as SCOTUS Passes on Planned Parenthood Defunding Appeal

In Andersen v. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, lower courts have ruled states can not withhold Medicaid money from Planned Parenthood if it provides health services for low-income women.

Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissent, meaning they each voted in favor of hearing the case.

[W] hat explains the Court's refusal to do its job here?

In this October 4, 2018 photo, the U.S. Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington.

While it is true that these cases aren't technically abortion cases in the jurisprudential sense, I'll give Thomas this: They're freighted with abortion politics.

"They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act", he wrote.

For now, the appeals court cases have turned on questions of whether the patients have a right to sue the states, with two circuits saying they do not while five have said they can.

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Abortion opponents have said Planned Parenthood should not receive any government money because of heavily edited videos that claimed to show the nation's largest abortion provider profiting from sales of fetal tissue for medical research.

The court's brief order denying the appeals from Louisiana and Kansas suggest Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh were not willing to hear the cases.

The pro-life organization Americans United For Life expressed disappointment with Monday's ruling. "If Kavanaugh was going to deal a major blow to health care rights during his first session on the court, this would have been the case to do it", Tim Jost, an emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, tells Politico.

Defunding Planned Parenthood has always been a priority for the Republican Party and canceling federal dollars for the organization became a point of discussion ahead of Kavanaugh's confirmation this fall. This case in particular did not involve abortion, but concerned other services provided by Planned Parenthood.

But, he added, "some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty".

"We are not 'to consult popularity", he quoted from the Federalist Papers, "but instead to rely on 'nothing. but the Constitution and the laws'". As a doctor, I have seen what's at stake when people can not access the care they need, and when politics gets in the way of people making their own health care choices. After the videos, Louisiana and Kansas moved to block people from using Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood services. "We will do everything we can to ensure our patient and the people who need healthcare will always have a place to turn-no matter what", said Melaney A. Linton, president of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in a statement.

In the end, the decision by Kavanaugh - particularly so soon after being the subject of sexual-assault allegations - and Roberts not to wade into this particular muck may mean nothing more than the fact that one or both of them would prefer a different battle.

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