Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Joins Court’s Liberals in Blocking Louisiana Regulation on Abortionists

WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts sided with his liberal colleagues on Thursday in blocking a Louisiana law from going into effect that would have required abortionists in the state to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were the four justices who would have allowed the regulation to have gone into effect.

Kavanaugh penned a dissent in June Medical Services v. Rebekah Gee, outlining that the matter comes down to competing pre-enforcement “predictions” over whether or not the four abortionists in the state can obtain admitting privileges, and therefore, court action is premature.

One of the abortionists already has privileges, and while the U.S. district court in Louisiana ruled that it would be unlikely for the other three to find a hospital that will work with them, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals contrarily concluded that the abortionists would probably be able to meet the requirement.

Kavanaugh noted that there will be a 45-day “regulatory transition period” before the law is actually enforced, which will consequently give abortionists additional time to determine whether or not they can find a hospital willing to grant admitting privileges.

Therefore, his view of how the matter should be handled rather was: Should abortionists not be able to comply at the end of the 45-day period, at that time, the law would then be deemed to be a “burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion and the request for an injunction could subsequently return to the district court.

“In order to resolve the factual uncertainties presented in the stay application about the three doctors’ ability to obtain admitting privileges, I would deny the stay without prejudice to the plaintiffs’ ability to bring a later as-applied complaint and motion for preliminary injunction at the conclusion of the 45-day regulatory transition period,” Kavanaugh wrote.

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Read Kavanaugh’s dissent here.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and John Roberts chose to grant the injunction against the law, which is identical to that in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.  The court struck down the Texas regulation in 2016 as creating an “undue burden on abortion access.” Roberts had dissented in that case.

However, as previously reported, Roberts, nominated to the bench by then-President George W. Bush, also joined the liberal justices of the court to uphold Obamacare in 2012, disappointing a number of conservatives who thought he would save the country from the requirements in the Affordable Care Act.

In 2005, during a discussion about the separation of church and state with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Roberts, a Roman Catholic, explained, “[M]y faith and my religious beliefs do not play a role in judging. When it comes to judging, I look to the law books and always have. I don’t look to the Bible or any other religious source.”

2 Chronicles 19:6 reads, “Take heed what ye do, for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment.”

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