Supreme Court blocks restrictive abortion law

WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided Supreme Court stopped Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics in a test of the conservative court's views on abortion rights.

The justices said by a 5-4 vote late Thursday that they will not allow the state to put into effect a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's four liberals in putting a hold on the law, pending a full review of the case.

President Donald Trump's two Supreme Court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were among the four conservative members of the court who would have allowed the law to take effect.

10 PHOTOS
Brett Kavanaugh sworn in as Supreme Court justice as protesters rally
See Gallery
Brett Kavanaugh sworn in as Supreme Court justice as protesters rally
Judge Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts as Kavanaugh's wife Ashley holds the family bible and his daughters Liza and Margaret look on in a handout photo provided by the U.S. Supreme Court taken at the Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 6: In this handout photo provided by the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, (Retired) administers the Judicial Oath to Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as his wife Ashley Kavanaugh holds the Bible while joined by their daughters Margaret and Liza, in the Justices Conference Room at the Supreme Court Building on October 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Fred Schilling/Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images)
A protester sits on the lap of "Lady Justice" on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building as demonstrators storm the steps and doors of the Supreme Court while Judge Brett Kavanaugh is being sworn in as an Associate Justice of the court inside on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Demonstrators protest in the street behind the U.S. Supreme Court building as they wait for Justice Brett Kavanaugh to depart after he was sworn in as an Associate Justice in ceremonies at the court on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Demostrators chant ion front of the locked doors at the top of the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building while Judge Brett Kavanaugh is being sworn in as an Associate Justice of the court inside on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Protesters overrun the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court as Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in as an Associate Justice in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
A man prays amidst protesters demonstrating on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in inside in Washington, U.S. October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Protester in support of and against the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh demonstrate on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building as Judge Kavanaugh is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the court inside on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Annabella Helman of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Olivia McAuliffe of McLean, Virginia join hands as protesters overrun the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court as Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in as an Associate Justice in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
A protester stands on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building in front of police after they cleared the steps of demonstrators while Judge Brett Kavanaugh was being sworn in as an Associate Justice of the court inside on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion in which he said the court's action was premature because the state had made clear it would allow abortion providers an additional 45 days to obtain admitting privileges before it started enforcing the law.

If the doctors succeed, they can continue performing abortions, he said. If they fail, they could return to court, Kavanaugh said.

The law is very similar to a Texas measure the justices struck down three years ago. Roberts dissented in that case.

But the composition of the court has changed since then, with Kavanaugh replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted to strike down the Texas law. Trump had pledged during the campaign to appoint "pro-life" justices, and abortion opponents are hoping the more conservative bench will be more open to upholding abortion restrictions.

Louisiana abortion providers and a district judge who initially heard the case said one or maybe two of the state's three abortion clinics would have to close under the new law. There would be at most two doctors who could meet its requirements, they said.

But the federal appeals court in New Orleans rejected those claims, doubting that any clinics would have to close and saying the doctors had not tried hard enough to establish relationships with local hospitals.

In January, the full appeals court voted 9-6 not to get involved in the case, setting up the Supreme Court appeal.

The law had been scheduled to take effect Monday, but Justice Samuel Alito delayed the effective date at least through Thursday to give the justices more time. He and Justice Clarence Thomas were the other dissenters Thursday.

The justices could decide this spring whether to add the case to their calendar for the term that begins in October.

The case is June Medical Services v. Gee.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.