Today the court has only one case to end the discussion of the February session, but it is an important case.
In June Medical Services LLC against Russo, the judges will consider whether Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to have privileges in nearby hospitals conflicts with the court’s decision just four years ago in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt break down a similar law in Texas. There is also a cross-petition from Louisiana that abortion providers have a third position to challenge health and safety regulations on behalf of their patients.
Today practically all seats in the courtroom will be occupied, which does not always happen even in some successful cases.
In the public gallery Kathaleen Pittman, director of the Hope Medical Group for Women clinic in Shreveport, owned by June Medical, is here. Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents the clinic, is here, as is Amy Metzler Ritter, president of the CRR.
Amy Hagstrom-Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, the consortium of health and abortion clinics at the center of the Texas case, is also here.
I was told by the CRR that none of the numerous doctors identified in the court documents as “Doe” would be present today. Their particular circumstances with respect to the admission privilege requirement will be the subject of numerous questions.
At the southern end of the front row of the public section sit two US senators who apparently accepted the invitation of Supreme Judge John Roberts to attend a court session. One is Senator Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican who studied medicine. He is among 207 members of Congress who signed a brief amicus in support of Louisiana organized by the Americans United for Life, an important anti-abortion group.
The other is Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal, who is among 197 different members of Congress who signed a brief in support of the challengers. The difference in the number of signatories of the competing briefs probably has no bearing on the judges.
In the bar section, there is a contingent from the American Civil Liberties Union, including Louise Melling, deputy director and director of her Center for Freedom, who oversees abortion rights and other matters. Also in the classroom today is Ilyse Hogue, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League.
At the consultancy table on the left, CRR’s Julie Rikelman, who will be discussing for June Medical Services, arrives with her co-consultant, including CRR’s Travis Tu and Stanford Law School’s Jeffrey Fisher and O’Melveny & Myers.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana entourage arrives to defend state law, including Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Attorney General Elizabeth Murrill, who will discuss the case. They are joined in the bar section by American representative Mike Johnson, a Republican from the 4th district of Louisiana, who will later tweet the video to say he helped defend the law in the federal district court before being elected to Congress in 2016 by district that includes Shreveport.
Abortion clinics in the areas of Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans are at the center of this litigation, but since the Hope Medical Clinic is located in Shreveport, there is a little more focus on that medium-sized city.
This could be a good place to say that your reporter once lived in Shreveport, north-west Louisiana and could be said to have more in common with buttoned Dallas and conservative East Texas than with “laissez les bon temps”. rouler “Atmosphere of New Orleans and southern Louisiana. This Chicago native was a bit of a fish out of water in that sleepy burg. I will put it this way. Apparently immediately after I left after two years of working in a newspaper, the region gained two, er, cultural innovations that would have made it a more interesting place to live: a minor league hockey franchise and game play. venture on the river. Also, somewhat unlikely, the area has become one of those non-Hollywood film production locations, so you may occasionally read that one star or the other was arrested in a local bar fight “while making a film in Shreveport” .
Representatives of groups that support Louisiana law here today include Steven Aden and Clark Forsythe of the United States for Life and Jordan Lorence and John Bursch of the Alliance defending freedom.
Just 10 minutes before the court starts, Ashley Kavanaugh, wife of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, arrives and sits in the VIP section. Soon she is followed by Joanna Breyer, wife of Judge Stephen Breyer and Jane Roberts, wife of Chief Justice.
Senior court officials also occupy most of the seats reserved for them. But retired judge Anthony Kennedy, who cast the fifth crucial vote for violating Texas rules The health of the whole woman, is not in the classroom today.
As the topic progresses, protesters on both sides of the abortion issue keep their rallies competing on the sidewalk off the pitch. No one in the courtroom is aware of the setbacks that Democratic leader Senator Charles Schumer of New York is evidently causing with his remarks to the abortion rights protesters, who will subsequently elicit a public response from the of the chief judge.
Amy Howe has the main account of this blog on the topic for an hour.
A few minutes after Rikelman’s presentation on behalf of June Medical Services, a cellphone bell rings, followed by a bell. The culprit is not obvious, although he does not appear to be a member of the court. Whenever I appear in front of a group of students or others to discuss the court, I mention the time of 2017 when Breyer inadvertently took her phone to the classroom and, of course, rang. Students whose phones have long been regulated in school really identify with justice.
When the mysterious phone doesn’t ping and hum, as it happens a few times during the hour, there are two distinct vibrations in the subject. One revolves around the fact that new court members are tackling their first argument in an abortion case. Judge Neil Gorsuch does not ask a single question. Kavanaugh, meanwhile, has several.
“Are you saying that the admission of privilege laws is always unconstitutional, so that we don’t have to look at the facts state by state?” he asks Rikelman. “Or are you saying that you actually look at the facts state by state, and in some states, admit that privilege laws could be constitutional if they don’t impose burdens?”
It maintains its position in several variations of the matter, arguing that such laws do not serve any valid state interest.
Kavanaugh poses five questions to Rikelman, one of chief vice attorney general Jeffrey Wall, who is arguing on behalf of the United States government in support of Louisiana, and none of Murrill.
For the other members of the court, the atmosphere is that the positions are well defined on this division problem.
Judge Samuel Alito, a minority member of The health of the whole woman, strongly questions Rikelman about the third party position of the abortion providers, finding many of his “surprising” or “highly questionable” answers.
As for the other dissidents in The health of the whole womanJudge Clarence Thomas is silent as usual while Roberts asks questions that will be highly reviewed but do not seem to reveal his views.
“Council, do you agree that the investigation under Hellerstedt is a reality that must proceed state by state?” he asks Rikelman. He places a variation of that question on both Murrill and Wall.
“[W]Why do you look at each state differently if the benefits of the law – won’t change from state to state? “asks the boss to Wall.
The remaining members of the majority The health of the whole woman—Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – both have strong questions that show their skepticism about the constitutionality of Louisiana law.
Ginsburg laughs when he asks Rikelman a friendly question Craig v. Boren, a 1976 case involving different legal ages for young men and women, in which he presented a brief amicus when he was at the ACLU. The decision helps to strengthen the permanent claim of abortion providers.
“Did you point out Craig against Boren that the apparent purpose of the law was to save vulnerable young people from the evils of beer 3.2?” Says Ginsburg.
“That’s correct, your honor and the court allowed the salon keeper to file a permanent third party application,” says Rikelman.
Ginsburg repeatedly tries to suppress the state’s motives for its privilege requirements to admit.
“Isn’t that the fact that most hospitals in Louisiana have to admit a certain number of patients to get privileges?” he asks Murrill. “Abortion providers will never do it … if they don’t also do obstetrics and gynecology, they will never qualify because their patients don’t go to the hospital.”
Breyer, who wrote the opinion of the majority in The health of the whole woman, has an exchange with Wall late on the subject that seems to summarize the ideological blockade on abortion rights.
“How do you manage it?” Breyer asks Wall. “I read the summaries. I understand that there are good arguments on both sides. In fact, people in the country have very strong feelings and many people morally think it is wrong and many people morally think it is the opposite. “
“It’s inside [Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v.] Casey and subsequent cases, “he adds,” I think the court is personally struggling with the problem of what kind of rule of law you have in a country that contains both types of people. “
When the topic is over, the director of the clinic, the defenders and politicians head quickly to the court square to turn to the media, and then off the sidewalk, where “both sides” of this intractable issue keep their comfortable, strong rallies.
A “vision” from the courtroom: “strong feelings” in the latest abortion case,
SCOTUSblog (March 4, 2020, 5:32 pm),