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How John Roberts left the door open to more state limits on abortion




Proponents of abortion rights were excited that access will continue to be available in Louisiana and opponents of abortion were disappointed. But they all agree that Roberts ’language will have important implications in the future.

“This was a great victory for the Louisiana clinic, or at least a great defeat avoided, but the first judge’s opinion is a creepy sign for the future of abortion rights,” the court expert said. Supreme and partner of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, Joshua Matz.

Although Roberts sided with the four liberals in court to repeal Louisiana law, in a concurring opinion, the chief justice left open the possibility that other states could pursue similar restrictions.

It depends on the “validity of the admission of privileges[s] on numerous factors that may differ from state to state, ”Roberts wrote in a footnote.

In Louisiana, for example, those who defied the law claimed it could essentially end access to abortions in the state.

Matz pointed to prominent lines in Roberts’ view that set back precedents on how courts should analyze the benefits and burdens of a particular law.

Roberts wrote, “There is no plausible sense in which anyone, let alone this Court, could objectively assign weight to such imponderable values.”

Matz added: “Even if the law does not achieve any important purpose, and even if it causes real harm, the only question Roberts would be asked is whether it creates a ‘substantial obstacle’ to the exercise of human rights. abortion “.

Robert’s opinion was “obviously worrisome for us,” said Julie Rikelman, a reproductive rights advocate who argued against the law in court.

“Roberts made it clear that this law is unconstitutional, which imposes an undue burden on access to abortion in Louisiana,” Rikelman stressed, before adding his concern.

“What the other parts of the opinion will mean will develop in the coming years,” he said. “We believe the opinion muddyed the waters a bit and will therefore lead to more litigation and not less.”

Kathaleen Pittman, administrator of the Hope Medical Group for Women (abortion clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana) and plaintiff in the case, also said the impact of Roberts’ language would be felt another day.

Pittman described an “absolutely dizzying” air among clinic staff in the news as he tried to maintain enough content to care for patients.

“The law passed right now by the Supreme Court is just one” of the state laws passed late to restrict abortion, he told reporters Monday. “This week we win the battle, and that means we can be open to fighting another day. But as a supplier, I’ll tell you: I’m celebrating today, but I’m still worried about our future.”

James Bopp Jr., general counsel for the national anti-abortion group, National Right to Life, said Roberts’ sentence “will have to be resolved by lower courts in the future.”

“You can read it, you know, half a dozen different ways,” he said. “So it’s like throwing a bunch of confetti: who knows what it means.”

Laws on abortion in the future

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If lower courts interpret future cases in light of Roberts ’view that the precedent goes back,“ that means many more regulations on abortion will be maintained, ”Bopp said. “Now, if they think it’s the majority decision that (applies) … it will be harder.”

The majority opinion was written by Liberal Judge Stephen Breyer.

On the ground, the election of the chief analyst judge could have several implications for pending and future decisions on abortion cases, and even for future restrictions that states want to advance.

While he did not believe the decision prompted the court to consider the so-called heartbeat ban, Rikelman described the restrictions on abortion as Louisiana law “as dangerous” as the abortions ban. state.

The court that doubled its opposition to the standard set by Texas law was also significant given the large number of abortion rights cases that are being prepared to reach the high court, Elizabeth Nash said , manager of state problems at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think tank.

“When you see something coming from the court that opens a door, that’s worrisome,” he said, noting that the perceived impacts of Roberts ’decision would vary depending on the parts of the fight for abortion.

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“If you want to protect the rights and access to abortion, this is a big win and it really demonstrates the need to use evidence to determine the constitutionality of the restrictions,” Nash added. Those who oppose abortion rights, he added, may see this as a time to “get back on the board, you know, and see how you revalue your strategy.”

“Roberts is completely canceled”

Proponents of anti-abortion seemed to see Roberts’ opinion as evidence that was against his cause, but there was no deterrent to continuing to enforce this legislation.

“Roberts is completely overruled,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List and national co-chair of the Trump Campaign’s Pro-life Voices for Trump Coalition. He added that advocates against abortion would take “a detailed reading of their decision to see where the openings are” and “pressured us to make sure we don’t have another Roberts moment.”

While he didn’t see Roberts ’view susceptible to these laws, even when presented differently,“ I would be delighted if that were the case, ”Dannenfelser said. “And there are legislators across the country who will say, you know, ‘make me the day, we’ll still do it anyway.'”

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In the White House, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany considered the sentence “unfortunate” and pointed to the five majority judges.

“Instead of valuing fundamental democratic principles, unelected judges have entered the sovereign prerogatives of state governments by imposing their own political preference in favor of abortion to override legitimate abortion safety regulations.” McEnany said in a statement.

Bopp held that Roberts’ alleged support for the judicial precedent confirmed the final decision of Texas law, but not the analysis used by the court at the time.

“Apparently, he thinks that politically, the best thing for the court, regardless of the law and the Constitution, is to consider the court implementing Roe’s most extreme positions against Wade,” Bopp said. “And that’s what he did.”