March 6, 2020

Will Roberts Reverse on Abortion Laws?

The chief justice looks to be siding with a precedent set by a more liberal SCOTUS.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in June Medical Services v. Russo, a case challenging the 2014 Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admittance privileges to nearby hospitals. As The Washington Times put it, “The case is being closely watched as the first major test of abortion law after the departure of Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Advocates on both sides of the ideological divide wonder whether the conservative majority will take this chance to give states more room to experiment with restrictions.”

The law was introduced by Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, who is that rarest of birds — a pro-life Democrat. Jackson responded to those objecting to the law, saying, “When you don’t [have admittance privileges] you have no connection with a hospital within a 30-mile radius, you have absolutely no connection with the hospital that your patient is being transported by emergency services to, so the doctors at the ER have to figure it out; they have to take it from the EMT instead of the physician that performed the procedure. And so I just thought it was a common sense piece of legislation; everyone would understand it regardless of what type of care you were providing to your patient you would have wanted a continuity of care.”

The law is similar to a Texas law that SCOTUS struck down in 2016, but the Court’s makeup has since shifted slightly to the right with originalist Neil Gorsuch having replaced centrist Anthony Kennedy. That shift has some wondering if the Louisiana law will be upheld.

Unfortunately, it appears once again that Chief Justice John Roberts may be leaning leftward based upon some of his questions. Roberts, who voted in favor of upholding the Texas law, seemingly now sees that 2016 ruling as settled precedent. As CNBC reported, Roberts “suggested that he saw that [Texas] decision as binding, which found that the Texas law had no medical benefits and placed an unconstitutional burden on women seeking abortion. Roberts twice said that the medical benefits for the Louisiana law would likely be the same.”

If that’s the case, SCOTUS will rule in the abortion lobby’s favor — unless Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s outrageous threat to Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh backfires. In that case, Roberts might amplify his clear message to Schumer and his ilk that the Court will not be intimidated by ruling for life and Liberty. We can hope.

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