The Supreme Court protected abortion in a ruling Monday morning, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court’s liberals in the majority decision.
In a disappointing outcome for pro-life advocates across the country, the court handed abortion advocates a 5-4 victory by striking down a Louisiana law that required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges to a hospital within a 30-mile radius.
“[The Court] found that conditions on admitting privileges common to hospitals throughout the State have made and will continue to make it impossible for abortion providers to obtain conforming privileges for reasons that have nothing to do with the State’s asserted interests in promoting women’s health and safety,” Justice Breyer said in the Court’s opinion in Russo v. June Medical Services.
Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts concurred, arguing that “[t]he Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana's law cannot stand under our precedents.”
Roberts points to the legal term stare decisis, meaning to "let stand as is," to refer to the Texas case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down a similar Texas law in 2016 for allegedly placing an undue burden to access to abortion by requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges. The law was determined to have violated precedent set by Roe v. Wade.
A Twitter firestorm erupted after Roberts decided to join the court’s liberals.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio asked if Second Amendment rights were next.
What’s next, Chief Justice Roberts? Our Second Amendment rights? https://t.co/aMj3FeT9sQ— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) June 29, 2020
Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute pointed out that stare decisis didn’t seem to matter to Roberts in other landmark cases like Citizens United.
Roberts didn't think stare decisis was that strong in Citizens United, Janus, and Knick, cases in which the precedent was much older and more entrenched. #CatoSCOTUS— Ilya Shapiro (@ishapiro) June 29, 2020
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his dissenting opinion, “Today the majority of the Court perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction.”
Thomas added, “Abortion precedents are grievously wrong and should be overruled.”