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Supreme Court Blocks Louisiana Abortion Law



THE SUPREME COURT RULED Monday that Louisiana’s abortion law is unconstitutional, dealing social conservatives and President Donald Trump’s administration another defeat in the first abortion case argued before the high court in several years.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court’s majority blocked a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to receive admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles from where the abortion is being performed. The law was passed in 2014, but the Supreme Court blocked enforcement in February as it decided whether to take up the high-profile case. In 2017, a federal district court in Baton Rouge ruled that the law violated the Constitution and stopped it from going into effect, though the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sought to overturn the lower court’s decision.

The majority, led by Justice Stephen Breyer, argued that Louisiana’s law is “almost word-for-word identical” to a Texas admitting privileges law, which was struck down in 2016. Chief Justice John Roberts, who’s emerged as a swing vote this term, joined the court’s liberals, citing that he’s adhering to precedent in the Texas case.

“Given the facts found, we must also uphold the District Court’s related factual and legal determinations. These include its determination that Louisiana’s law poses a ‘substantial obstacle’ to women seeking an abortion; its determination that the law offers no significant health-related benefits; and its determination that the law consequently imposes an ‘undue burden’ on a woman’s constitutional right to choose to have an abortion,” Breyer wrote.

Critics argued that Louisiana’s law could leave the state with just one doctor and one clinic. Louisiana’s law resembled a law in Texas that was struck down by the court in 2016 because it didn’t provide many health benefits and placed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.

Justices heard oral arguments for the case in early March, right before the Supreme Court switched to hearing cases via teleconference due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday’s ruling is the latest blow to the Trump administration following a pair of surprising decisions earlier this month on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and LGBTQ workplace rights. The court blocked his administration from rescinding a program that shields nearly 700,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors from deportation. Days earlier, the court ruled that employees can’t be discriminated against in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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