Supreme Court blocks Louisiana abortion clinic regulations

Pablo Martinez Monsivais  Associated Press  File

Pablo Martinez Monsivais Associated Press File

"When Justice Roberts joined the court's progressives to grant the emergency stay and temporarily block Louisiana's law while the case is pending before the Supreme Court, he did more than benignly push pause on the enforcement of the Louisiana law", writes David French at National Review.

In a four-page dissent (pdf) that Stern described as "absurd" and "astoundingly dishonest", Kavanaugh brushed aside a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that declared a similar Texas law unconstitutional, and highlighted Louisiana's promise that it would not "move aggressively" to enforce the harsh abortion restrictions as a reason they should be allowed to move forward.

The Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Texas in 2016, with Justice Anthony Kennedy serving as a deciding vote in the 5-3 decision.

Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito all dissented from the decision and would have allowed the law to take effect as appeals proceed. Kavanaugh's opinion argues that if the other three doctors aren't able to get admitting privileges, that could present an "undue burden" to abortion access (the standard set up under Roe v. Wade and recently affirmed in the Texas case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt).

The one conservative who did not vote to ignore SCOTUS precedent is the only conservative on the court who you could say cares more about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court than conservative ideology. The act was scheduled to take effect on Friday.

That of course is still possible, as this is only a temporary measure until the court decides over the next few months whether it will hear this case next term.

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Louisiana now has three abortion clinics and four abortion doctors, only one of whom has the admitting privileges required by Louisiana's (yet to be enforced) law.

Responding to the news, Americans United for Life attorney Rachel Morrison framed the decision as simply giving the justices "more time to look at all of the specific factual nuances in the case", after which "AUL is confident that the Justices will vote to uphold Louisiana's common-sense safety measure that will protect Louisiana women from substandard abortion doctors".

If the doctors succeed, they can continue performing abortions, he said. The other four judges are members of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had refused to put the law on hold.

Michaelson proposes an analogy in which a law is passed that requires doctors who perform abortions to "wear polka dotted shirts with striped ties and clown shoes", and argues that by Kavanaugh's logic, if the doctors could obtain the clothes, this would not constitute an "undue burden". The divergence between the findings of the district court and the majority is striking-a dissonance in findings of fact inexplicable to these eyes as I had not thought that abortion cases were an exception to the coda that appellate judges are not the triers of fact. Take action at the Supreme Court with us. If it does, as seems likely, a ruling on the constitutionality of the Louisiana law would likely come next year. As chief justice, the federal judiciary's highest-ranking judge, Roberts presides over oral arguments in cases before the court and leads private meetings among the justices.

If he ends up voting to invalidate the Louisiana law, Roberts wouldn't be the first chief justice to put institutional concerns above his own views. Yet, in 2000, he was the author of a 7-2 decision that reaffirmed the Miranda case. Current cases are asking courts to recognize the unborn as persons.

So what is the future of the Louisiana case?

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