Sunday, October 17, 2021
From The New York Times:
The Supreme Court heard arguments in an abortion case on Tuesday, but the issue for the justices was a procedural one: Could Kentucky’s attorney general, a Republican, defend a state abortion law when the governor, a Democrat, refused to pursue further appeals after a federal appeals court struck down the law?
As the argument progressed through a thicket of technical issues, a majority of the justices seemed inclined to say yes.
Tuesday’s case, Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, No. 20-601, concerned a Kentucky law that challengers said effectively banned the most common method of abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy, dilation and evacuation. The justices barely discussed the law during Tuesday’s argument.
Rather, they focused on the tangled history of the case and the complicated jurisdictional and procedural questions that arose from it.
The case started in 2018, when the state’s only abortion clinic and two doctors sued various state officials to challenge the law. The state’s attorney general at the time, Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said his office was not responsible for enforcing the law and entered into a stipulation dismissing the case against him, agreeing to abide by the final judgment and reserving the right to appeal.
While the case was moving forward, Kentucky’s political landscape shifted. Mr. Beshear, who had been attorney general, was elected governor. Daniel Cameron, a Republican, was elected attorney general.
Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the challengers, said Mr. Cameron was bound by the stipulation signed by his predecessor. “It doesn’t matter that there’s been a political party change,” she said.
Justice Elena Kagan said that was both basically right and a little unsettling.
Read more here.