The Supreme Court blocked implementation of a Louisiana law that would have imposed dramatic restrictions on abortion by requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in order to perform the procedure. They said that it was not medically necessary, abortion is a safe procedure, and in fact the law would leave only one provider in the state.
In the Louisiana case, the appellate court charged that most abortion providers had "sat on their hands", not making any attempt to meet the safety standard. "If we denied the stay, that question could be readily and quickly answered without disturbing the status quo or causing harm to the parties or the affected women, and without this Court's further involvement at this time", Kavanaugh writes.
In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court granted February 7 a temporary stay blocking the law while it is adjudicated in lower courts. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who President Donald Trump appointed to replace Kennedy, joined the court's four other conservatives in dissent. Lawmakers have defended the law, saying that one abortionist has already obtained hospital admitting privileges.
CNBC reported that the law had been set to go into effect Monday but was held up pending the Supreme Court's decision.
"Justice Kavanaugh plays his cards very close to the vest in this ruling", Tu said in a telephone interview with CBS News. Seated from left: Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed it, holding in a 2-1 decision that this Louisiana law was different than the Texas law invalidated in WWH and that this law does not run afoul of Supreme Court precedent.
He noted that the law has a 45-day transition period before taking effect, during which "both the doctors and the relevant hospitals could act expeditiously and in good faith to reach a definitive conclusion about whether those three doctors can obtain admitting privileges", and therefore it was premature to block the law before competing predictions about the law's impact have been proven or disproven.
And now they have been joined by Justice Cavanaugh (spelled with a "C" for Susan Collins, whose stated trust in his assurances on abortion rights was absurd). Slate interpreted that to mean he is, indeed, "declaring war on Roe v. Wade". "But somehow, when a conservative lower court merely allows a state to mind its own business in a case that might brush up against a recent Supreme Court decision he himself disagreed with and now has the votes to overturn, Roberts parachutes in to overturn the lower court".
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Thursday night's Louisiana ruling may have only delayed the coming upheaval. "Here, only one doctor at one clinic is now unable to obtain privileges", Judge Jerry Smith wrote for the panel, reported the Wall Street Journal.
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.
The annual cutoff for cases has passed, so this matter would be heard late this year, with a decision likely in early 2020.
The Center for Reproductive Rights - representing patients, clinics and doctors in the state - had asked the justices to put the law on hold before it was slated to go into effect on Friday, while the Center prepared briefs asking the justices to review the legality of the law.
The court, of course, could accept the Louisiana case for review next term, reopening the abortion debate, and perhaps even entertaining the possibility of reversing Roe.