A banner that says: Abortion is a human right, seen during the “Day of Action to Stop Abortion Rights” rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
Michael Brochstein | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images
The Supreme Court voted Monday 5-4 to overturn a restrictive abortion measure in Louisiana in a major victory for reproductive rights activists, with Chief Justice John Roberts on the side of the court’s four liberals.
Judge Stephen Breyer, author of an opinion joined by his fellow Democrats, wrote that the law places an undue burden on women seeking abortions. Roberts wrote separately to say that his thinking was based on the 2016 court decision to repeal a similar law in Texas.
The case involved a Louisiana abortion law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admission privileges within 30 miles of their clinic. Defendants argued that the restriction would limit the state to a single abortion provider in a single clinic.
Breyer wrote that the law represented a “substantial hurdle” for women and did not provide “significant health-related benefits” and was therefore unconstitutional.
The dispute was the first on abortion to be discussed before the two appointed by President Donald Trump, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged Louisiana’s abortion law in superior court, said in a statement that “we are relieved that the Louisiana law has been blocked today but we are worried about tomorrow.”
“With this victory, Louisiana clinics can remain open to serve the million reproductive-age women in the state. But the Court’s decision could encourage states to pass even more restrictive laws when clarity is needed to protect the rights of the child. abortion, “Northup said.
The Louisiana attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Anti-abortion groups immediately criticized the decision.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony’s list, called the ruling “bitter disappointment.”
“It demonstrates once again the failure of the Supreme Court to allow the American people to protect the well-being of women from the tentacles of a brutal, for-profit abortion industry,” said Dannenfelser.
Dannenfelser said the Supreme Court decision “reinforces the importance of Supreme Court judges to advance the pro-life cause” and called it “imperative that we reelect President Trump and our pro-life majority in the United States Senate so that we can further restore the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court. ”
The case is the third in a series of major victories for liberals in the high court that came amid an election battle between Trump and presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Earlier this month, Roberts joined the four appointed court Democrats who rejected the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Obama-era immigration program known as DACA.
Also in June, Roberts and Gorsuch sided with the four liberals in a decision that argued that gay and transgender workers cannot be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Trump campaigned to nominate judges who would “automatically” revoke the landmark Roe v. Abortion decision. Wade, and the Justice Department supported Louisiana in the case. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Roberts cites a 2016 Texas abortion case
Roberts said his vote with the Liberals on Monday was based on the superior court precedent in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case the court decided in 2016. In that case, the court reversed an almost identical Texas law for a 5-3 vote. Roberts then voted to uphold the law.
But in his opinion on Monday, Roberts said that the legal doctrine known as stare decisis, or the principle of adhering to precedents, “requires us, in the absence of special circumstances, to treat similar cases equally.”
“Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion as severe as that imposed by Texas law, for the same reasons,” wrote Roberts. Therefore, Louisiana law cannot be sustained under our precedents. “
The case is June Medical Services v. Russo, No. 18-1323.
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