Roberts Strikes Again: SCOTUS Strikes Down Louisiana Abortion Facility Law

By Al Perrotta Published on June 29, 2020

“Truly awful,” is how Lila Rose describes today’s decision by the Supreme Court to strike down Louisiana’s abortion admitting privileges law. Once again, Chief Justice John Roberts contorted himself to side with liberals.

The Unsafe Abortion Protection Act requires abortion facilities to follow the same standards as any other surgical facility. It requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. The law would protect women from unsafe or unhygienic abortion clinic practices. (Seems pretty straight-forward, considering what an abortion entails and the risks to the woman.)

A lower court judge argued the law would leave only one clinic open in Louisiana. That, he argued, would make it too hard for women to get an abortion, thus making it unconstitutional. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. It found “there is no evidence that any of the clinics would close as a result of the Act.” However, in deciding June Medical Services v. Russo, the liberals on the Supreme Court bought the argument abortion would be restricted.

Roberts went along, but on the basis of precedent. “The result in this case is controlled by our decision four years ago invalidating a nearly identical Texas law.”  Roberts, not incidentally, had voted in favor of the Texas law. (So it was unconstitutional in his mind four years ago, but isn’t now?) Roberts is making a habit of switching previously held legal opinions to appease the liberal justices. 

A Strong Dissent

In his strong dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas offered a simple reason today’s decision is wrong. “The Constitution does not constrain the States’ ability to regulate or even prohibit abortion. This Court created the right to abortion based on an amorphous, unwritten right to privacy, which is grounded in the ‘legal fiction’ of substantive due process. As the origins of this jurisprudence readily demonstrate, the putative right to abortion is a creation that should be undone.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch also noted the legal contortions of the majority. “To arrive at today’s results, rules must be brushed aside and shortcuts taken.” 

Judicial Network president Carrie Severino called the decision a reincarnation of the “abortion distortion”: applying a different set of rules to abortion than other issues. She added that the Louisiana law was a “common sense regulation meant to protect women and avoid Kermit Gosnell nightmares.”

Dr. Patrick Lee, director of the Center for Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville, denounced today’s decision. “Sadly, the health of women took a back seat to abortion today when the Supreme Court allowed abortionists an exemption from medical standards that apply to all other doctors who work at ambulatory surgical centers.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Huckabee responded to Roberts’ latest effort to cuddle up with liberals.

When oral arguments in Russo were heard on March 4, Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stood outside openly threatening justices. “I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind! And you will pay the price! You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions!”

Chief Justice Roberts condemned the remarks. However, when it came down to it, Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh stuck to the law and life and the health of women, joined by Thomas and Alito. Roberts himself apparently wasn’t willing to pay the price.

The Stream will have more coverage on today’s decision, including a report from Josh Shepherd, who was down at the Supreme Court this morning collecting reactions. 


Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream and co-author, with @JZmirak, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration. You can follow him at @StreamingAl. And if you aren’t already, please follow The Stream at @Streamdotorg

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