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

Chief Justice John Roberts provided on Monday the decisive vote to preserve access to abortion in Louisiana, a ringing victory for the clinics and doctors who spent years fighting a law they claimed would effectively ban the procedure in the state.

Al mismo tiempo, sin embargo, Roberts left a key clue that could inspire other states to pass similar laws and guarantee that the issue of abortion remains front and center in national discourse decades after Roe v. Vadear, la 1973 landmark Supreme Court legalizing abortion nationwide.
The court struck down a Louisiana law requiring that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges from a nearby hospitaljust like it struck down a similar law out of Texas four years ago.
    Supporters of abortion rights were elated that access will remain available in Louisiana, and opponents of abortion were disappointed. But all agree that Robertslanguage will have a major implications going forward.
      This was a huge victory for the Louisiana clinic, or at least a huge defeat averted, but the chief justice’s opinion is a chilling sign for the future of abortion rights,” said Supreme Court expert and Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP partner Joshua Matz.
        While Roberts sided with the court’s four liberals to strike down the Louisiana law, in a concurring opinion the chief justice left open the possibility that other states might be able to pursue similar restrictions.
        los “validity of admitting privileges law depend[s] on numerous factors that may differ from state to state,” Roberts wrote in a footnote.
          In Louisiana, for instance, those challenging the law asserted it could essentially end access to abortions in the state.
          Matz pointed to salient lines in Robertsopinion that walk back precedent on how courts should analyze the benefits and the 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 doesn’t achieve any important purpose, and even if it causes real harm, the only question Roberts would ask is whether it creates a ‘substantial obstacleto exercising abortion rights.
          Robert’s opinion wasobviously concerning for us,” said Julie Rikelman, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights who argued against the law before the court.
          Roberts clearly did say that this law is unconstitutional, that it imposes an undue burden to abortion access in Louisiana,” Rikelman stressed, before adding her concern.
          What the other parts of the opinion will mean will play out in the coming years,” ella dijo. “We think the opinion did muddy the waters a bit, and so will lead to more litigation rather than less.
          Kathaleen Pittman, an administrator at Hope Medical Group for Womenan abortion clinic in Shreveport, Luisiana, and plaintiff in the casealso said the impact of Robertslanguage would be felt another day.
          Pittman described an air ofabsolute giddinessamong clinic staff at the news while trying to stay contained enough to serve patients.
          The law struck down just now by the Supreme Court is just one ofthe state laws passed of late to restrict abortion, she told reporters Monday. “Esta semana, we’re winning the battle, and that means we can stay open to fight another day. But as a provider, I’ll tell youI’m celebrating today, but I’m still worried about our future.
          James Bopp Jr., general counsel for the anti-abortion group National Right to Life, said that Robertsruling willhave to be sorted out by lower courts in the future.
          You can read it, sabes, a half a dozen different ways,” él dijo. “So it’s like throwing out a bunch of confettiwho knows what it means.

          Abortion laws going forward

          If lower courts interpret future cases in light of Robertsopinion walking back the precedent, “that means a lot more regulations on abortion will be upheld,” Bopp said. “Now if they think it’s the majority decision that (applies)… then it will be harder.
          The majority opinion was penned by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer.
          On the ground, the chief justice’s choice of analysis could have a variety of implications on both pending and future decisions on abortion cases, and even future restrictions that states look to advance.
          While she didn’t think that the decision would prompt the court to consider a so-called heartbeat ban, Rikelman called abortion restrictions like the Louisiana lawjust as dangerousas the state-level abortion bans.
          The court doubling down on its opposition to the standard set by the Texas law was also significant given the slew of abortion rights cases in the pipeline to arrive at the high court, said Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think tank.
          When you see anything coming from the court that opens a door, then that is concerning,” ella dijo, noting that the perceived impacts of Robertsdecision would vary across sides of the abortion fight.
          If you want to protect abortion rights and access, this is a huge victory and really substantiates the need to use evidence in, sabes, determining the constitutionality of restrictions,” Nash added. Those opposing abortion rights, ella añadió, can see this as a moment togo back to the drawing board, sabes, and see how to reevaluate your strategy.

          ‘Roberts is completely written off

          Anti-abortion proponents seemed to view Robertsopinion as evidence that he was against their causebut no true deterrent to continue pursuing such legislation.
          Roberts is completely written off,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List and national co-chair of the Trump Campaign’s Pro-life Voices for Trump Coalition. She added that anti-abortion proponents would conducta close reading of their decision to see where the openings areand werepressing to make sure that we don’t have another Roberts moment.
          While she didn’t see Robertsopinion as amenable to such laws even when presented differently, “I’d be thrilled if that were the case,” Dannenfelser said. “And there are legislators all over the country who will be saying, sabes, ‘make my day, we’re still gonna do it anyway.'
          At the White House, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany blasted the ruling asunfortunate,” and took aim at the five justices in the majority.
          Instead of valuing fundamental democratic principles, unelected Justices have intruded on the sovereign prerogatives of state governments by imposing their own policy preference in favor of abortion to override legitimate abortion safety regulations,” McEnany said in a statement.
            Bopp slammed Robertsprofessed support of court precedent as upholding the final decision of the Texas law, but not the analysis employed by the court at the time.
            He apparently thinks that politically, the best thing for the court, regardless of the law and the Constitution is that the court be viewed as implementing Roe v. Wade’s most extreme positions,” Bopp said. “And so that’s what he did.

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