Published: Mon, February 11, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Collins: Kavanaugh's attackers 'haven't even read' dissent

Collins: Kavanaugh's attackers 'haven't even read' dissent

Louisiana's law required doctors performing abortions to acquire admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics.

On Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court's four liberal justices in putting Louisiana's law on hold.

President Trump's two nominees, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, joined Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in dissenting. In that dissent, Kavanaugh said that the law should be allowed to go into effect so its true impact can be measured. Three years ago, a Texas law, virtually identical to the Louisiana law, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Woman's Health v Hellerstedt.

This decision is unlikely to be the end of the Louisiana case, as the Supreme Court could reconsider it next term. If this is a display of Kavanaugh's Solomonic wisdom, I'd honestly hate to see how he resolves disputes on those sports teams he's so fond of coaching.

Activists on opposing sides voiced hope that the case will eventually return to the Supreme Court for a definitive ruling on the substance of the law. Even if that doctor worked seven days a week, the judge said, the physician could not provide for the 10,0000 women a year seeking abortions in the state.

Collins' office countered such criticism Friday by noting that Democrats responded with "near total silence" after Kavanaugh provided the decisive vote in Planned Parenthood's favor in a December Supreme Court ruling.

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.

The supreme court voted late on Thursday evening to stop the law in Louisiana. The appeals court denied January 18 a request for a review by all the judges.

Louisiana now has three abortion clinics and four abortion doctors, only one of whom has the admitting privileges required by Louisiana's (yet to be enforced) law.

That's because as it stands now, state laws are not allowed to place an "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose, putting so many obstacles in her path that it becomes hard or impossible for her to exercise her rights.

The Supreme Court recognized a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalized the procedure nationwide in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

After decades of relative stability under the court-imposed Roe precedent, the ground on abortion rights in the United States could be shifting. The conservative states that would outlaw abortion if Roe fell will then simply pass TRAP laws so onerous that almost every abortion provider in those states will be forced out of business. The justices, however, did not rule on the merits of the case.

Joining the Chief Justice in preventing enforcement of the Louisiana law for at least several months were Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor.

SHAPIRO: When, not if, an abortion challenge makes its way to the Supreme Court.

And when they do uphold the Louisiana law after a full hearing, that's what Roberts will accomplish. If they are unable to do so, he said, it may be that the law would have a significant burden on women's abortion rights by limiting their access to clinics legally able to perform the procedure. While Justice Roberts is a conservative, he's considered an institutionalist and an incrementalist with a keen desire to protect the court's legitimacy.

On Thursday, a half hour before the court acted on the Louisiana law, Roberts voted with the conservatives to deny a Muslim death row inmate's plea to have his imam with him for his execution in Alabama.

In fact, although the decision was 5-4, Kavanaugh wrote the dissent separately, saying he would allow the law to take affect.

The U.S. Supreme Court could, at some point, reaffirm its support for Roe and reject any infringement of its protections.

SHAPIRO: Do you think there are other state laws that are likely to arrive at the high court within the next year or two?

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