THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled against a Louisiana state law that sought to require doctors performing abortions to hold active admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinic. The vote resulted in a 5-4 majority decision, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the liberal justices, though citing a different reason for his decision.
The majority opinion for June Medical Services LLC v. Russo was written by Justice Stephen Breyer, who stated that the law was “almost word-for-word identical” to the 2016 case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in which the Supreme Court ruled a similar Texas law unconstitutional. Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged the Louisiana law, stated, “With this win, the clinics in Louisiana can stay open to serve the one million women of reproductive age in the state. But the Court’s decision could embolden states to pass even more restrictive laws when clarity is needed if abortion rights are to be protected.”
On the decision behind his vote, Justice Roberts stated, “The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike. The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.” Justice Roberts noted that he did not agree with the original 2016 ruling, yet he made the case that honoring precedent was important.
Many prominent conservative lawmakers and politicians spoke out against Justice Roberts’ decision. Justice Clarence Thomas stated, “Today a majority of the Court perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction.” Jeanine Mancini, president of March for Life, said her organization was “appalled” by the ruling. This marks the second time this month that Justice Roberts went against the conservative mainstream with his voting to preserve DACA.
“Americans’ Abortion Views Steady in Past Year” – Gallup, June 29, 2020 / American’s Preference for the Legality of Abortion / Data: Gallup
Supreme Court Hands Abortion-Rights Advocates A Victory In Louisiana Case – NPR – 6/29/20 A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday stood by its most recent abortion precedent. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals, citing the Supreme Court’s adherence to precedent, to invalidate a Louisiana law that required doctors at clinics that perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Louisiana’s law is virtually identical to one struck down by the court in 2016, which found that the admitting-privileges law in Texas was medically unnecessary and that it significantly limited access to abortion.
White House rips Supreme Court’s ‘unfortunate ruling’ on Louisiana abortion clinic restrictions – Fox News – 6/29/20 “States have legitimate interests in regulating any medical procedure—including abortions—to protect patient safety. Instead of valuing fundamental democratic principles, unelected Justices have intruded on the sovereign prerogatives of State governments by imposing their own policy preference in favor of abortion to override legitimate abortion safety regulations,” the statement concluded.
Why conservative Chief Justice Roberts just struck down an anti-abortion law – Vox – 6/29/20 The fact that June Medical is almost entirely identical to Whole Woman’s Health forms the basis of Roberts’s opinion. “I joined the dissent in Whole Woman’s Health and continue to believe that the case was wrongly decided,” the chief justice writes. Nevertheless, “the question today however is not whether Whole Woman’s Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case.”
BREAKING: John Roberts Casts Deciding Vote As Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Abortion Restrictions – The Daily Wire – 6/29/20 Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the dissent issued Monday, maintaining that the majority ignored a number of problems, including whether the clinics themselves even had standing to challenge the Louisiana rule, in its haste to preserve abortion rights. “Today a majority of the Court perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction,” Thomas wrote.
Adam Serwer on Twitter, 6/29/20: faith conservative arguments. He’s just saying you can’t tee up an identical case after losing the previous one just because you won an election and replaced a couple of justices. Law didn’t change.
Chris Hayes on Twitter, 6/29/20: Boy they are gonna absolutely lose it at Roberts.
Mark R. Levin on Twitter, 6/29/20: Roberts has destroyed any credibility the Court may have had. He’s a disgrace.
Barbara Boxer on Twitter, 6/29/20: Women’s reproductive health got a boost today as John Roberts joined a key decision. The right to choose is a constitutional right, but if there are no safe facilities it is truly no longer a right. Four justices made clear that women, in their view, do not deserve protection.
Gov. Mike Huckabee on Twitter, 6/29/20: who believe in legislating from the bench. Mr. Chief Justice, if you want to be a legislator, resign and run for Congress. But at any rate, just resign!
Elie Honig on Twitter, 6/29/20: The Chief Justice John Roberts Independence Tour of 2020 has been something to behold.