A divided US Supreme Court on Thursday stopped a Louisiana law imposing strict regulations on abortion clinics from going into effect in its first major test on abortion since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy last summer.
The justices said by a 5-4 vote late Thursday that they will not allow the state to put into effect a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who President Donald Trump appointed to replace Kennedy, joined the court's four other conservatives in dissent.
If "one or two of the three clinics would not be able to continue providing abortions ... then even the state acknowledges that the new law might be deemed to impose an undue burden for purposes of Whole Woman's Health", Kavanaugh wrote. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with more liberal justices in moving to stay the law.
But Kavanaugh's decision on the Louisiana law appears to run counter to one the court made recently about a similar Texas law, a move that convinced pro-choice supporters to express alarm that Roe could be in trouble. "We look forward to a closer look at the real facts of this case by the Court", Foster said, "and we're confident that in doing so, the Justices will vote to uphold it".
She insisted in an October speech on the Senate floor that "his views on honoring precedent would preclude attempts to do by stealth that which one has committed not to do overtly" to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that recognized women's right to choose to have an abortion.
Thursday night's Louisiana ruling may have only delayed the coming upheaval.
Justices often feel bound by a prior decision of the court, even one they disagree with, at least until the court formally takes on a case to consider overruling the earlier decision. The law was challenged nearly immediately upon passage and had been held from taking effect by legal challenges since it was passed.
The action, which four justices opposed, followed by less than two months the Supreme Court's refusal to review lower court opinions rejecting decisions by Kansas and Louisiana to remove Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider.
Perhaps most interesting and significant aspect of the decision for the immediate future of the court was the composition of the majority and minority sides.
Asked if the Supreme Court vote would have an impact on the "heartbeat" bill debate in OH, anti-abortion activist Janet Porter said, "None whatsoever".
"That means women & men who believe women should have access to safe, legal abortion must stand up stronger than ever for women's constitutionally protected health care rights", Murray said in a tweet.
It allows abortion-rights proponents time to bring an appeal to a newly constituted conservative court majority that may nonetheless be willing to reverse course dramatically on the subject of abortion.
Supreme court precedent is supposed to guide appeals court judges, but in a decision advocates called "rogue", the conservative fifth circuit in Louisiana defied the supreme court's recent decision and voted to allow the law to go into effect. But the 5th Circuit reversed the ruling and upheld the law.
On Friday, opinion writer for the Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson, explained that Justice Brett Kavanaugh won't fully eradicate Roe v. Wade, but will seek ways to undo it "bit by bit". That decision, and the subsequent refusal to hear it en banc, is a flawless example of the courts going off on its own to advance a political agenda-in this case, an anti-choice one.
Two years ago, Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold the law in Texas.
"The Supreme Court has stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women", Northup said in.
"The new makeup of the Supreme Court indicated that it was likely it would have gone through, which would have had devastating consequences", she said. Judge John deGravelles, of the US District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, an Obama appointee, said the Louisiana law would severely limit the number of providers available to perform abortions, result in the closure of clinics and "place added stress" on remaining facilities.