Friday, November 29, 2013
The New Yorker: The Stakes in the Hobby Lobby Birth-Control Case, by Amy Davidson:
Is the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which the Supreme Court agreed to hear this week, about health-care mandates or about religion? Hobby Lobby’s owners, who are Christian—they buy ads in newspapers on Easter recommending that people get to know Jesus Christ—feel that their right to worship freely is being denied by the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby is a privately held for-profit company, with five hundred stores selling arts-and-crafts supplies and thirteen thousand full-time employees, not all of them Christians. . . .
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The New York Times: Justices Take Companies’ Cases Challenging Contraception Rule, by Adam Liptak:
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a pair of cases on whether corporations may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception to their workers based on the religious beliefs of the corporations’ owners. . . .
In June, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in Denver, ruled for Hobby Lobby, a corporation owned by a family whose members have said they try to run the business on Christian principles. The company, which operates a chain of arts-and-crafts stores and has more than 15,000 full-time employees of many faiths, objected to a requirement in the health care law requiring large employers to provide their workers with comprehensive insurance coverage for contraception. . . .
Hobby Lobby's objection is to "drugs and devices that can prevent embryos from implanting in the womb." However, the best available evidence indicates that emergency contraceptive pills work before fertilization, not after. More information on how different types of emergency contraception work can be found here.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Arizona Asks Supreme Court to Reinstate Its Law Denying Medicaid Funding To Medical Providers That Offer Abortion
AZcentral.com: Arizona again asks Supreme Court to look at abortion law, by Alia Beard Rau:
For the second time in as many months, an Arizona official has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a controversial state abortion law.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne on Wednesday asked the nation’s highest court to rule on a law that strips Medicaid funding from doctors and clinics that perform abortions.
House Bill 2800, which the Legislature passed and Gov. Jan Brewer signed in 2012, would have halted Medicaid reimbursements for contraceptives, cancer screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and annual women’s exams at more than 80 Arizona hospitals and clinics that also perform abortions. . . .
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
SCOTUSblog: Texas abortion law left in effect, by Lyle Dennison:
Splitting five to four, the Supreme Court late Tuesday afternoon refused to block a Texas abortion law that critics say is forcing the closing of one-third of all clinics in the state. The Court had been studying the issue for the past week. The majority said that the challengers had not met the requirement for setting aside a federal appeals court’s order permitting the law to take effect on October 31.
The majority specifically included Justices Antonin Scalia, who wrote separately in a concurring opinion joined by Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Clarence Thomas. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy presumably voted with those three, because it would have taken five votes to act definitively on the plea by doctors and clinics when there were four Justices who wanted to block the law. . . .
Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the four dissenters, including Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. . . .
The order and opinions are available here.
ACLU press release: Supreme Court Refuses to Block Texas Abortion Law:
Health Care Providers Vow to Continue Fight to Protect Women
The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to halt a Texas law that has forced more than a dozen of the state’s women’s health centers to stop providing abortion care, leaving large parts of the state without an abortion provider and preventing women from obtaining abortions.
“We are not giving up on Texas women,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “If the constitutional right to abortion means anything, it must mean that laws like this one that prevent women from obtaining an abortion must be invalidated. This is a very disappointing decision, but we will continue to do everything we can to protect the health and rights of Texas women.”
The case will now continue in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear the full merits of the case in January 2014. . . .
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
USA Today: Steady stream of abortion cases headed toward high court, by Richard Wolf:
A steady stream of abortion cases are heading toward the Supreme Court, making it only a matter of time before the justices are likely to consider a new wave of state restrictions. . . .
"It's a pivotal moment," says Caitlin Borgmann, a City University of New York law professor who writes a blog on reproductive rights. "The restrictions are now getting to a point where they're actually shutting down clinics." . . .
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The National Law Journal: The Abortion Docket, by Marcia Coyle:
In the past two years, anti-abortion groups have seeded state laws with abortion restrictions. Challengers to court rulings for and against those laws now are knocking on the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court. . . .
The National Law Journal: Ruling Against Contraception Mandate Deepens Circuit Split, by Sheri Qualters:
A federal appellate ruling barring enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s law's mandate that employer-provided health insurance cover contraception and related services has deepened the appellate split over that issue.
A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled on Nov. 8 that Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 claims against the mandate were “very likely to succeed.” . . .
Last week’s ruling put the appellate tally at 3-2 in favor of plaintiffs opposed to the mandate. The Tenth Circuit held that a company could be a "person" exercising religion in this context and the D.C. Circuit similarly sided with owners of a company. . . .
The New York Times: Justices Leave in Place Ruling Against Abortion Ultrasound Requirement, by Adam Liptak:
The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a state court’s decision striking down an Oklahoma law that required women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound image placed in front of them and to listen to a detailed description of the fetus before the procedure. . . .
H/t: Priscilla Smith
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The Los Angeles Times: High court's refusal to hear Oklahoma appeal is blow to abortion foes, by David Savage & Molly Hennessy-Fiske:
Though abortion rights groups praise the decision, the justices could hear at least two other key cases from Texas and Arizona.
The legal push in some Republican-controlled states to restrict abortion rights suffered a setback Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Oklahoma's appeal seeking to reinstate a law that effectively banned the use of abortion-inducing drugs.
The court's decision delivered a surprise victory for abortion rights groups and was seen as a sign that while conservative justices may be open to giving states new powers to restrict abortion, they are not ready to impose sweeping new limits that would significantly interfere with women's constitutionally protected rights. . . .
Monday, November 4, 2013
SCOTUS Blog: Court Won't Rule on RU-486 Abortions, by Lyle Dennison:
The Supreme Court took off of its docket, and thus will not decide, a plea by the state of Oklahoma to revive a law that restricts doctors’ use of drugs rather than surgery to perform an abortion with the medication RU-486 and others. In a one-sentence order, the Court dismissed as “improvidently granted” the case of Cline, et al., v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice (docket 12-1094). . . .
Center for Reproductive Rights press release: Texas Health Care Providers Take Fight Against Unconstitutional Law to U.S. Supreme Court:
Following a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that allowed the immediate enforcement of a state law blocking women from getting services from one-third of abortion providers in the state, reproductive health care providers have taken their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Today the women’s health care providers who jointly filed suit on behalf of their patients have filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate an injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel on October 28 blocking a Texas provision requiring doctors who provide abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital—a requirement that leading medical associations oppose and only results in women losing access to safe medical care. . . .
Friday, November 1, 2013
DC Circuit Denies Injunction of Federal Contraceptive Mandate to For-Profit Corporations, but Grants it to the Companies' Individual Owners
SCOTUS Blog: A split ruling on birth-control mandate, by Lyle Dennison:
Taking a split approach, the D.C. Circuit ruled on Friday that profit-making corporations cannot make a religious challenge to the new health care law’s mandate that workers get birth-control and related medical coverage; however, if the firm is owned by only a few individuals, they can challenge it to defend their own religious objections, and they may well win. The two major parts of the ruling split the three judges in differing ways.
The Supreme Court already has three cases awaiting its attention on the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate — with differing outcomes in lower courts — and the somewhat unusual approach taken by the D.C. Circuit on Friday may simply add an additional impetus for the Court to take on the issue in the current Term. . . .
This passage of the court's opinion seems question-begging:
If the companies have no claim to enforce—and as nonreligious corporations, they cannot engage in religious exercise—we are left with the obvious conclusion: the right belongs to the Gilardis, existing independently of any right of the Freshway companies.
The court assumes that there must be a "claim to enforce," but why must that be so? Why isn't there simply no right, given that the Gilardis chose to incorporate, and it is the corporation that is subject to the mandate? For more on this, see Caroline Corbin's essay on this issue.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Mother Jones: The New War on Abortion Drugs, by Mariah Blake:
Can a state ban a type of abortion, entirely? That's the question the US Supreme Court is now weighing.
In June, the court agreed to hear a challenge to a 2011 Oklahoma law that bars doctors from prescribing abortion drugs, unless they follow the FDA label. Supporters of the bill argue the goal is to protect women's health. "Oklahoma has acted to regulate a dangerous off-label use of a drug regimen that is tied to the deaths of at least eight women," says Mailee Smith, a lawyer for Americans United for Life, which drafted the legislation. But critics maintain the language is so broad it would block access to all abortion drugs—including those used to treat life-threatening ectopic pregnancies. And the Oklahoma Supreme Court agrees. In response to a query from the US Supreme Court, on Tuesday the state court ruled that the bill effectively "bans all medication abortions" and thus is unconstitutional. . . .
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Center for Reproductive Rights press release: Oklahoma Supreme Court Confirms Unconstitutional State Law Acts as a Total Ban on All Medication Abortion:
Ruling is in response to request from U.S. Supreme Court
In answering certified questions from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has definitively ruled today that the state’s restrictions on medication abortion are unconstitutional because the law “restricts the long-respected medical discretion of physicians” and effectively bans medication abortions and the non-surgical treatment of women with ectopic pregnancies. . . .
SCOTUS blog: Oklahoma Abortion Law Explained, by Lyle Denniston:
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled today that a 2011 state law — now awaiting review by the Supreme Court — is so broad that it would outlaw all abortions done with medications, rather than surgery. The state court was answering two questions sent to it by the Justices last June, when they agreed to hear a case defending the law’s constitutionality (Cline, et al., v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, et al., docket 12-1094). . . .
Saturday, October 26, 2013
SCOTUSblog: Can states ban abortions at earlier stages?, by Lyle Denniston:
In a wave of new laws enacted across the country, foes of abortion are pushing a common goal: to ban the termination of pregnancy at earlier stages than the Supreme Court has previously allowed. The first new case seeking to test whether the Court will go along with that campaign has been filed, and could be faced by the Justices later this year. A response to that case by abortion supporters is now due on November 29. . . .
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The Los Angeles Times (editorial): Contraception coverage: A hobby shop is not a church:
The Supreme Court should overturn an appeals court decision holding that business owners can refuse on religious grounds to include birth control in employee health coverage.
A federal appeals court has thrown enforcement of one of the Affordable Care Act's mandates into confusion by accepting a bizarre argument: that businesses can refuse on religious grounds to include birth control in employee health plans. . . .
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
SCOTUSblog is publishing a symposium on Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice:
This past June, the Court granted cert. in Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition of Reproductive Justice, in which it will consider the constitutionality of an Oklahoma law which prohibits the off-label use of abortion inducing drugs. . . .
The list of invited contributors is available here. Posts by Priscilla Smith (Yale Law School) and O. Carter Snead (Notre Dame Law School) are already available here and here, and more commentators will be posting their analyses throughout the week here.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Slate: The Cleverest New Anti-Abortion Law, by Emily Bazelon:
Will the Supreme Court strike down Oklahoma’s devious attempt to stop doctors from prescribing the safest kind of medical abortion?
The biggest-ever wave of abortion restrictions has been flooding the states since Republicans victories in the 2010 election. The canny genius behind these new laws is that they reduce access to abortion in the name of protecting women’s health. The statutes are written to seem reasonable, sober, and safety based, perhaps none more so than the 2011 Oklahoma law making it harder for doctors to prescribe the drugs used to induce a medical abortion. A challenge to the Oklahoma law promises to be the next big Supreme Court case about abortion. . . .
ThinkProgress: Everything You Need To Know About The Abortion Case That’s Headed To The Supreme Court, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
If you had no idea that abortion was slated to come before the Supreme Court this year, you’re not alone. Thecomplicated case that’s up for debate,Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, has flown under the radar precisely because it’s fairly complex and doesn’t immediately seem to be all that important. But it could have huge implications for the current laws in over a dozen states across the country — and depending how the justices rule, it could ultimately set the precedent for the future of the entire United States’ access to reproductive health care.
Here’s what you need to know about the potentially landmark case . . . .
Thursday, September 5, 2013
The New York Times - Opinionator blog: The Next Abortion Case Is Here, by Linda Greenhouse:
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, author of the 5-to-4 opinion in Junethat struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, may well be a hero to the gay rights community, and deservedly so. But he’s also the author of the 5-to-4 opinion that upheld the federal ban on so-called partial birth abortion back in 2007, and abortion-rights advocates have viewed with something close to dread the prospect that he could play a similarly decisive role in the Supreme Court’s next abortion case.
That case has arrived. . . .