Supreme Court strikes down restrictive abortion law; Roberts concurrence provides fifth vote

The highly divisive issue splits Americans many had hoped the justices appointed by Trump would rule differently

The highly divisive issue splits Americans many had hoped the justices appointed by Trump would rule differently

Instead, conservatives suffered a setback, and from an unlikely source.

In keeping with a string of other unconstitutional maneuvers, Chief Justice John Roberts joined once again with the bench's leftists in June Medical Services v. Russo, authoring his own concurring opinion that cut against the Constitution, life, and women.

This is the first time the current court, which has a majority of justices with judicial records of ruling against abortion rights, has heard an abortion-related case, NPR reports.

Now, here's where it gets interesting here and why this case was so important: Despite the ruling in Whole Women's Health, abortion opponents in many states have continued to enact TRAP laws and other restrictions on abortion, because the makeup of the Supreme Court has changed since 2016, when Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with the liberal wing of the court (Breyer, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Kagan) in ruling against the Texas law. "We consequently hold that the Louisiana statute is unconstitutional", Breyer wrote. In dissent, Judge Stephen A. Higginson wrote that the Louisiana law was "equivalent in structure, goal and effect to the Texas law" invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2016. Essentially, Roberts based his decision not on his opinion on the law itself, but on the basic concept of precedent.

Roberts had dissented in Whole Women's Health, which he noted in his concurrence.

The author of the law, Louisiana State Representative Katrina Jackson, has denied that its objective was to reduce abortion access, and called the regulation "common-sense women's health care".

Justice Roberts pointed to the earlier case when deciding to reject the Louisiana law.

The petitioners asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether that decision violated past precedents and should be struck down. The law will not take effect following Monday's decision.

At issue in the case was a state law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital to provide for better emergency care and treatment of women.

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The plurality and THE CHIEF JUSTICE ultimately cast aside this jurisdictional barrier to conclude that Louisiana's law is unconstitutional under our precedents. Pro-lifers argued that not only was Hellerstedt wrongly decided but that Louisiana's situation is different from that of Texas anyway, including that most Louisiana hospitals don't have the Texas requirement that doctors must see a minimum number of patients per year to qualify for admitting privileges.

As Julie Rikelman, lawyer for the Louisiana abortion clinic said during oral arguments, the vast majority of abortion lawsuits are brought by health-care providers on behalf of their patients.

Only two of the five doctors who provide abortions in Louisiana have obtained admitting privileges: one in New Orleans and one in Shreveport. But the Shreveport doctor testified that he could not handle the clinic's work alone.

"Louisiana abortion providers have a record of non-compliance with basic safety regulations, and now they want a special exemption from generally-accepted medical standards that apply to similar surgical procedures in our State", Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry declared in March. It was decided by an eight-member court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia that February. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh also dissented.

Several other cases involving legal challenges to state abortion restrictions are heading toward the justices that could provide other avenues for its conservatives to roll back access to the procedure. "Both experts and laypersons testified that the burdens of this increased travel would fall disproportionately on poor women, who are least able to absorb them".

"Today a majority of the Court perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction", Justice Clarence Thomas wrote.

Chief Justice John Roberts didn't seem like a probable champion of the right to choose, either.

The full 5th Circuit refused to rehear the case by a 9-6 vote.

"This case is similar to, almost identical with, Whole Woman's Health", Breyer wrote. "Under those same principles, I would adhere to the holding of Casey, requiring a substantial obstacle before striking down an abortion regulation". There is no evidence that a requirement for admitting privileges at hospitals in any way protects women's health. "It's wrong for doctors who are profiting off of women to come in with this conflict of interest and pretend they speak for women when they're really asking for an exemption that jeopardizes women's health". "Appreciating that others may in good faith disagree", he wrote, "I can not view the record here as in any pertinent respect sufficiently different from that in Whole Woman's Health to warrant a different outcome".

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