Supreme Court: Is Roe v. Wade on the way out?
Kavanaugh: Let the Louisiana law go into effect
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh “is already done pretending to care about abortion rights,” said Elie Mystal in The Nation. Last week, Kavanaugh dissented when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to temporarily block a strict new Louisiana law that would shut down all but one of the state’s abortion clinics. The law, which would require providers to get admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic, is almost identical to a Texas law that the court struck down in 2016 for putting an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion. The “undue burden” standard is a key Supreme Court precedent. This is what the pro-choice movement feared, said Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.com. By writing a dissent that argues in favor of ignoring the Texas precedent, Kavanaugh “just declared war on Roe v. Wade.”
If only that were so, said David French in NationalReview.com. Kavanaugh’s dissent was very cautiously worded, and based entirely on the idea that allowing Louisiana’s law to go into effect might not present an “undue burden” while the merits of the case are decided. Chief Justice John Roberts, meanwhile, joined with the court’s liberals to block the Louisiana law, which suggests he’ll also join them in throwing it out. As pro-lifers learned long ago, “Put not your faith in judges, for they shall disappoint you.”
Roberts isn’t a “traitor” to the conservative cause, said Paul Waldman in The Washington Post. It’s likely that the solidly conservative chief justice will ultimately uphold the Louisiana law, after making it look as if he and the other conservatives carefully weighed its merits during the stay. After all, Roberts originally voted with other conservatives to uphold the Texas law when the liberal faction still had Justice Anthony Kennedy as a swing vote. Roberts knows that polls show nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose overturning Roe, and that doing so would spark a massive backlash against Republicans. “To save the GOP from itself,” Roberts instead will now join the four other conservatives in ruling in favor of most state abortion restrictions—effectively making it illegal in red states, and legal in blue states. “If your goal was to destroy Roe and to minimize the backlash Republicans will suffer at the polls, that’s how you’d do it.” ■