Friday, February 9, 2024

Ohio AG Keeps Lawsuit Alive Defending 6 Week Abortion Ban Even After Voters Passed Constitutional Amendment for Reproductive Freedom

News 5 Cleveland, Ohio AG Fighting for "Other Provisions" in 6-Week Abortion Ban, Maintains Ban is Unconstitutional

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asked that the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas throw out a lawsuit that would eliminate the six-week abortion ban, just months after saying that said ban would be void if voters chose to legalize and protect access to abortion.

Now, Yost’s team is explaining that although the filing has no explicit mention of this, the AG only wants to fight for "other provisions" — and not the ban itself.***

The AG’s office filed a procedural document Friday that responds to all claims that were made by six-week ban challengers, including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Ohio, and indicates arguments the office will make throughout the life of the lawsuit.

The response by the Attorney General’s Office is a common legal document that is required as part of the legal process, according to Case Western Reserve University constitutional law professor Jonathan Entin.

“The lawyer's job is to provide the strongest case with the strongest set of arguments available on behalf of the client's position,” Entin said. “The attorney general's client is the state.”

Tracy Thomas, University of Akron director of constitutional law, said it came as a surprise that the state attorney is continuing the lawsuit fight to try to save the law.

“Given the vote [on Issue 1], given the governor saying ‘we’re going to respect the vote,’ I think what was expected was not keeping this lawsuit going,” Thomas said.

Immediately after the abortion amendment passed, DeWine told News 5 that he did “certainly accept the results of Issue 1 in Ohio.”” 

But given the polarizing politics on the issue of abortion rights, Thomas said keeping the lawsuit going, if just to delay a ruling until more legislative decisions on reproductive rights can be made, could be one strategy at play.

“Laws and constitutions are only as good as the courts enforcing them,” she said.

February 9, 2024 in Abortion, Courts, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Empirical Study of Appellate Patent Litigation Reveals Ongoing Racial and Gender Disparities of Lawyers

Paul Gugliuzza, Rachel Rebouche & Jordana Goodman, Inequality on Appeal: The Intersection of Race and Gender in Patent Litigation  

Today, roughly 40% of lawyers are women, 15% are persons of color, and 8% are women of color. Yet people of color, and women of all races, rarely climb to the most elite levels of law practice. This article, based on an original, hand-coded dataset of the gender and race of thousands of lawyers and case outcomes, provides a stark illustration of on-going racial and gender disparities, focusing on the high-stakes world of appellate patent litigation.

All appeals in patent cases nationwide are heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a court that is itself quite diverse: out of twelve active judges, five are women and four are persons of color, two of whom are women of color. But, out of 6,000-plus oral arguments presented to the Federal Circuit in patent cases from 2010 through 2019, a staggering 93% were delivered by white attorneys. Barely 2% were by Black or Hispanic/Latino attorneys. Adding in data about gender, white male attorneys alone argued 82% of patent cases during the decade we studied. Women of color, by contrast, argued fewer than 2%.

Crucially, those disparities bear no relation to attorney performance. Appellants in Federal Circuit patent cases win about a quarter of the time and appellees win about three-quarters of the time—with no correlation based on race, gender, or the intersection of the two. The one cohort of lawyers in our study that does win more frequently is a small group of lawyers at large law firms who argue Federal Circuit patent appeals more frequently than anyone else. That group of roughly 65 lawyers is, like our dataset overall, overwhelmingly white and male.

In general, our study tells a dispiriting story: despite increasing diversity among law students and lawyers, and no connection between a lawyer’s gender or race and case outcomes, a lack of diversity persists at the legal profession’s highest levels. However, we identify discrete areas of patent practice where women, people of color, and women of color are more visible—most notably, in representing the federal government (as opposed to private-sector clients) in patent appeals. Those findings provide a foundation for ideas to make the patent system, and high-level law practice generally, more diverse and inclusive.

January 18, 2024 in Courts, Equal Employment, Technology, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 18, 2023

Legal Scholar Amicus Brief Argues to Sustain or Increase Scrutiny Level for Transgender Inmate

Kyle Velte, Ezra Young, Jeremiah Ho, M. Dru Levasseur, Nancy Marcus, Dara Purvis, Eliot Traez, Ann Tweedy, Brief Amici Curiae Legal Scholars of Sex and Gender In Support of Plaintiff-Appellant

This amicus brief was filed in Griffith v. El Paso County, Colorado, case no. 23-1135 (10th Circuit) in support of appellant Darlene Griffith. Amici curiae are legal scholars of sex and gender. They offer expertise in their personal capacities to assist the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in assessing whether the El Paso County Sheriff officials violated Ms. Griffith’s Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection when they refused to house Ms. Griffith, a transgender woman, in the women's unit of the El Paso County Jail as a pretrial detainee.

December 18, 2023 in Constitutional, Courts, Gender, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Legal Experts Examine Controversial Forensic Test That Has Helped Convict Women of Murder for Stillbirth

Legal Experts to Examine a Controversial Forensic Test That Has Helped Convicted Women of Murder

Legal experts from two universities will convene a group to study a dubious forensic test that has helped send some women to prison for murder though the women insisted they had stillbirths.

Last month, ProPublica reported on what’s known as the lung float test, which some medical examiners use to help determine whether a child was stillborn or was born alive and took a breath.

In response to the investigation, Aziza Ahmed, a professor at Boston University School of Law, and Daniel Medwed, professor of law and criminal justice at Northeastern University, announced they will lead the Floating Lung Test Research Study Group. The group, which will consist of lawyers and medical professionals, will be sponsored by the Boston University Program on Reproductive Justice and the Center for Public Interest Advocacy and Collaboration at Northeastern University School of Law.

December 12, 2023 in Courts, Healthcare, Pregnancy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 4, 2023

ABA Program on "Enhancing Language Access for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence in Rural, Urban, and Border Towns"

The ABA is hosting a program on "Enhancing Language Access for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence in Rural, Urban, and Border Towns." The event is from 2 p.m. - 3:30 EST on December 8th. 

The Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence and the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence cordially invite legal service providers and advocates supporting survivors and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to join us for a panel discussion on Enhancing Language Access for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence in Rural, Urban, and Border Towns.


This panel discussion is designed for legal services providers to address the challenges and promising practices in providing language access to victims of domestic and sexual violence who are limited English proficient or use different modes of communication, including those who speak indigenous languages. The panel will explore the unique considerations and approaches required based on the geographic location of the providers, focusing on rural, urban, and border towns. By sharing experiences and expertise, participants will gain valuable insights to improve their language access services and support for these vulnerable populations.

Register here

December 4, 2023 in Courts, Gender, Healthcare, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Afsharipour and Jennejohn on "Gender and the Social Structure of Exclusion in U.S. Corporate Law"

Afra Afsharipour and Matthew Jennejohn have published "Gender and the Social Structure of Exclusion in U.S. Corporate Law" in volume 90.7 of the University of Chicago Law Review. The article abstract is excerpted here: 

Prior qualitative research suggests that [professional] networks are an important source of information, mentoring, and opportunity, and that those social resources are often withheld from lawyers who do not mirror the characteristics of the typically male, wealthy, straight, and white incumbents in the field. We have a common nickname for the networks that result, which are ostensibly open but often closed in practice: “old boys’ networks.”

For the first time in legal scholarship, this Article quantitatively analyzes gender representation within a comprehensive network of judges and litigators over a significant period of time. The network studied is derived from cases before the Delaware Court of Chancery, a systemically important trial court that adjudicates the most—and the most important—corporate law disputes in the United States. Seventeen years of docket entries across more than fifteen thousand matters and two thousand seven hundred attorneys were collected as the basis for a massive network.

Analyzing the Chancery Litigation Network produces a number of important findings. First, we find a dramatic and persistent gender gap in the network. Women are not only outnumbered in the network but also more peripheral within it compared to men. Second, we find that law firm membership and geographical location interact with gender—women’s positions within the network differ by membership in certain firms or residence in particular geographies. Finally, as we drill down into the personal networks of individual women, we find arresting evidence of the social barriers female Chancery litigators regularly confront: from working overwhelmingly—sometimes exclusively—with men in the early years of their careers to still being shut out of male-dominated cliques as their careers mature.

The Article’s findings set the stage for subsequent research to test the connection between gender representation in litigation networks and discrete outcomes, such as the incidence of bias in judicial opinions. It also demonstrates how subsequent research can incorporate network structure into quantitative and qualitative studies of not only gender bias but also other forms of inequality in law. With respect to policy, it provides the necessary first step to crafting normative interventions that improve equitable access to social resources by making networks more empirically concrete. With that added clarity, the network approach then allows us to calibrate remedial options available to bar associations, law firms, and individual attorneys, leaving no level of the institutional setting untouched.

December 4, 2023 in Courts, Equal Employment, Judges, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Where Things Stand on Opposition to Implementation of Ohio's New Reproductive Freedom Constitutional Amendment

Julie Carr Smyth & Christine Fernando, AP, Voters Back Abortion Rights, but Opponents Won't Relent.

As voters in state after state affirm their support for abortion rights, opponents are acting with escalating defiance toward the democratic processes and institutions they perceive as aligned against their cause.

Certain Republican elected officials and anti-abortion activists around the country have responded to losses at the ballot box by challenging election resultsrefusing to bring state laws into line with voter-backed changes, moving to strip state courts of their power to consider abortion-related laws and challenging the citizen-led ballot initiative process itself.

“We.Are.Not.Done.,” Ohio state Rep. Jennifer Gross declared on the social media platform X two days after voters enshrined the right to abortion in the state constitution earlier this month. She and 25 other Republican lawmakers vowed to block the amendment from reversing Ohio’s existing abortion restrictions.

A strong majority of Ohio voters passed the amendment, by roughly 57% to 43%. In response, the group of lawmakers said in a joint statement: “We will do everything in our power to prevent our laws from being removed based upon perception of intent.”

Gross joined three fellow Republicans to go even further, proposing legislation to prevent Ohio courts from interpreting any cases related to the abortion-rights amendment, known as Issue 1. Similar efforts have emerged in six other states since state courts became the new abortion battleground after the Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022, that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Douglas Keith, senior counsel to the Brennan Center for Justice’s Judiciary Program, said abortion politics prompted successful efforts to limit the power of state courts in Montana and Utah and unsuccessful legislation in Alaska and Kansas. Such bills are attempts to dismantle the government’s system of checks and balances, he said.

See also The Fight for Abortion Access in Ohio Isn't Over and Analysis: OH Legislature Threatens Jurisdiction Stripping to Prevent Enforcement of New Constitutional Amendment


Ohio Senate Leader Says After Issue 1 Vote, Abortion Won't be Back on the Ballot Soon

The Republican leader of the Ohio Senate says he doesn’t want an abortion amendment to change parts of Issue 1 passed by voters earlier this month to go before voters soon.

On Election Night, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) issued a statement saying he thinks there would be a “revolving door of ballot campaigns to repeal or replace Issue 1.” But Huffman said that doesn’t mean he wants to see another abortion amendment on the ballot right away.

“I don’t think there, certainly, should be anything on the ballot, certainly in '24 and we will have to see about that going forward," Huffman said.

Ohio's 2024 primary is in March, and the contests for the Republican nominations for president and U.S. Senate are likely to bring out GOP voters. But Huffman said, "I didn't say anything about putting something on the ballot in March."

Abortion also played a key role in the August special election, in which voters rejected a proposal to require 60% voter approval to pass future constitutional amendments. The abortion and reproductive rights amendment passed with just under 57%.

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and Gov. Mike DeWine, who both strongly opposed Issue 1, have also said an abortion issue shouldn’t be on the ballot next year.


Ohio's Top Court to Consider How Issue 1 Affects Six-Week Abortion Ban                                                                                   

The Ohio Supreme Court, which has been considering a technical question about the state's ban on abortion after six weeks, asked the parties involved in the lawsuit to file written arguments on the impact of a constitutional amendment approved by voters last week.


November 21, 2023 in Abortion, Constitutional, Courts, Legislation, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Analysis: Ohio Legislature Threatens Jurisdiction Stripping to Prevent Enforcement of New Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom

In November, people in Ohio passed an initiative for Reproductive Freedom of abortion, contraception, and reproductive rights by 57%. The initiative was proposed by a public petition process, where pro-choice supporters from the medical profession led the petition signing campaign to get the amendment on the ballot.

Maneuvers to Defeat Reproductive Freedom Amendment

The Ohio legislature and executive, Republican controlled, tried many maneuvers to defeat this amendment. The legislature added an August special election to change the standard for passing a constitutional amendment by initiative from 50% to 60%. After prohibiting special August elections the year before. The voters rejected that change in the one-hundred year standard by 57%. Then the Secretary of State “summarized” the actual language of the amendment in ways that suggested abortion would be freely allowed any time (while the amendment expressly says prohibitions are allowed after fetal viability) and changed fetus to “unborn child.” One poll showed this impacted 5% of the voters, particularly men and conservative women in the middle, who would have withdrawn their support based on the language. Then the Attorney General issued an “explanation” of the amendment that called it an extreme law that established a new level of “exclusive scrutiny” under the constitution never before seen. Even though the amendment is a reasonable restoration of the prior balance of Roe and state law drawn at viability and applying strict scrutiny. The Governor advocated strongly against the amendment, calling it extreme and jeopardizing parents’ rights over minors’ abortions. See Jessica Bulman-Pozen & Miriam Seifter The Right to Amend State Constitutions, Yale L.J. Forum (Nov. 10, 2023) (discussing larger trend of  maneuvers to block the right to amend). 

After the passage of amendment, the Governor announced he accepted the results of the election and recognized the amendment. “He said along with the rest of Ohioans, the state will wait to see how the constitutional amendment is applied.” “I always said that all of at least can be up to the courts," DeWine said. "So these things will have to play out in the court of law. So we will we'll see how they how they play out and what the courts decide."

Repeal or Replace

There have been some hints of new amendments to be quickly proposed to “repeal or replace” the 2023 Amendment. Reproductive Freedom Wins in Ohio. But That's Not the End of the Story.  Ohio has no regulatory limits on new amendments, unlike some states that have laws prohibiting these types of immediate proposals. Seven states have limits on repeat measures, typically temporal restrictions that prevent similar measures within 2 to 3 years.

Ohio has some precedent on this type of repeal. Ohio’s constitution originally banned gambling. But in 1973, voters approved a state lottery. Between 1973-2009, four initiatives failed to approve casinos, with one barely passing in 2009.

A similar back and forth happened with women’s presidential suffrage in 1917. Presidential suffrage was a partial suffrage measure granting women the right to vote in presidential elections. The legislature passed a bill authorizing presidential suffrage. But opponents, most from the liquor industry fearing women voters would vote for prohibition, quickly put together an initiative to repeal the law. Women suffragists led by attorney and later Judge Florence Allen challenged the petition signatures as fraudulent. But the amendment was placed on the ballot and strongly passed, thus overturning women’s limited suffrage. See Tracy Thomas, The Jurisprudence of the First Woman Judge, 27 William & Mary J. Race, Gender & Social Justice J. 293, 316-17 (2001).

Threats of Jurisdiction Stripping

However, the legislature has not. A significant minority of legislators issued a statement saying they intend to strip courts of jurisdiction to hear cases about the amendment. See Ohio GOP Lost on Issue 1. Now Some Want to Strip Power Over Abortion Laws from the Courts. “Jurisdiction” is a court’s power or authority to consider a case. What this proposal does is prevent courts from enforcing the amendment by injunction and by declaring laws in contravention of the Reproductive Freedom Amendment unconstitutional. Because these legislators have indicated they will not recognize or enforce this right.

The Ohio legislative group issued a statement saying it would pass a bill saying that the state courts and/or Supreme Court could not hear cases about reproductive rights and/or would limit enforcement remedies like injunctions and contempt it could award. “The draft proposal from Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester) said state lawmakers would have exclusive authority over implementing Issue 1, with all jurisdiction withdrawn from local and state courts. It also would order the immediate dismissal of lawsuits, and violations by judges would be impeachable offenses.” Id.

 "It's even more extreme than I expected. A better title would be the Issue 1 Non-Implementation Act," said Steven Steinglass, dean emeritus at the Cleveland State College of Law and wrote the best known book on Ohio’s constitution.

Steinglass said the draft proposal violates the state's constitution in several ways. He said it goes against the new reproductive rights amendment, it violates the constitutional role given to the judiciary to interpret constitutional issues and goes against principles of separation of powers. He said it violates due process at the state and federal level, and he also said it arguably violates equal protection laws.

"So it seems to me that legally it really is and should be a non-starter," Steinglass said. Id.

 The Unconstitutionality of Jurisdiction Stripping

Jurisdiction stripping is a political tool from conservative playbooks to limit judicial action on social issues. In the 1980s, federal Congress members proposed bills to remove or limit the power of the U.S. Supreme Court to adjudicate issues of abortion, desegregation busing, and school prayer. Four bills were introduced in 1981 specifically to limit jurisdiction over abortion in opposition to Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice Roberts, then working as a lawyer in the Senate, did the research endorsing this approach. (And recently, liberals have grabbed on to jurisdiction stripping as a court-reform strategy to limit the impact of the current Supreme Court).

Jurisdiction stripping assumes that the legislature has power to dictate the jurisdiction of the courts, and thus has the power to limit that jurisdiction. At the federal level, this is Congress’ power under Article III of the Constitution to create the appellate jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court with exceptions and its power over the lower courts.

However, jurisdiction stripping is blatantly unconstitutional conduct. It violates separation of powers, one of the key principles of the U.S. Constitution establishing three branches of government with checks and balances on each. Eliminating jurisdiction from courts over targeted controversial issues encroaches on the legislature’s power to interpret the law and check the excesses of the legislature. It threatens the rule of law itself if the dialogue with the judicial branch is strangled and legislatures are unaccountable to constitutional rights.

The potential power of jurisdiction stripping is also different whether a statutory or constitutional right is at issue. Tracy Thomas, Congress' Section 5 Power and Remedial Rights, 34 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 673 (2001). There is some support for the argument that legislatures can remove or limit jurisdiction or remedies for statutory rights, because they created those very statutory rights and could eliminate those rights completely. Id. at 696. However, constitutional rights are superior paramount rights that are not created by the legislature. The legislature cannot eliminate or change that constitutional right short of subsequent constitutional amendment. Without the power to change the right, there is no power to change the procedure, remedy, or jurisdiction over that right.

November 15, 2023 in Abortion, Constitutional, Courts, Legislation, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Recent Appointments: Women are Improving the Federal Bench


Women Are Improving the Federal Bench: Milestones and Historic Firsts, Ms.

The professional and demographic diversity these judges bring to our federal courts matters. Our diverse nation needs judges who reflect and represent all of us. And we know this: Demographic and professional diversity on our courts has been shown to increase public trust in the judiciary and improve judicial decision-making. More diverse courts include the perspectives of communities who have been traditionally excluded from seats of power in the judiciary’s formal and informal decision-making, and judges from different demographic and legal backgrounds infuse more viewpoints into judges’ deliberations. Diverse courts help communities trust that judicial decisions are fair and do not favor a select few like the wealthy and powerful.

November 7, 2023 in Courts, Judges, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Deep Disagreements in the Last Five Years of Equality Jurisprudence at the Supreme Court of Canada

Jennifer Koshan & Jonnette Watson Hamilton, "'Clarifications' or 'Wholesale Revisions'? The Last Five Years of Equality Jurisprudence at the Supreme Court of Canada" (2023) Supreme Court Law Review (Forthcoming)
Presented at the Asper Centre's Litigating Equality Symposium at the University of Toronto in May 2023

Over the past five years, the Supreme Court of Canada’s equality jurisprudence under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has revealed deep disagreements within the Court. This paper reviews the six decisions that comprise that jurisprudence, drawing out the major points of contention on the role of substantive equality, the test for section 15(1), adverse effects discrimination, causation, evidence, contextualization, and positive obligations. Our argument is that while the section 15 majorities in the first three decisions – Alliance, Centrale, and Fraser – attempted to respond to the critiques of equality-seeking groups, these decisions could not paper over the profoundly ideological disagreements embedded in equality rights jurisprudence, particularly in cases of systemic discrimination. In light of the recent push-back by a significant proportion of the Court in R v CP and a majority in Sharma, we also discuss the implications of the six decisions for equality-promoting litigation strategies going forward.

October 19, 2023 in Constitutional, Courts, Gender, International, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Reconstructing the Myth of the Perfect Victim in Rape Crimes Through the Use of Experts

Deborah Tuerkheimer, Victim, Reconstructed: Sex Crimes Experts and the New Rape Paradigm, U. Illinois L. Rev. (forthcoming)  

The “perfect victim” embodies enduring misconceptions about how victims behave during and in the wake of sexual violence. However misguided, these myths are sufficiently pervasive to pass for common sense—the same common sense that jurors in sex crimes trials are instructed to deploy when judging the credibility of accusers. One obvious corrective is expert testimony. But expertise in rape cases has mostly been anchored to an odd syndrome—the “rape trauma syndrome,” which, quite apart from its questionable scientific underpinnings, suffers from two conceptual defects: the syndrome individualizes the structural, and it pathologizes the normal. As #MeToo has brought into sharp focus, sexual violence is not aberrant; nor is it possible to abstract rape and its aftermath from a social context defined by steep social hierarchies. Expert testimony should account for these realities, reconstructing the victim accordingly. This move can reverberate beyond rape trials to other parts of the criminal justice system and—most urgently—to the cultural realm, where quotidian credibility judgments dictate the path forward for countless survivors. The paradigm that emerges promises to upend entrenched understandings of who counts as a victim and what constitutes rape.

October 18, 2023 in Courts, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 9, 2023

Kenyan Court Exonerates Health Care Provider and Mother of Adolescent Girl From Abortion Charges

The Center for Reproductive Rights reported on the dismissal of Republic v. Samson Mwita & Grace Wanjiku on September 25th. The Center for Reproductive Rights summarizes the case: 

The defendants, Samson Mwita and Grace Wanjiku, were arrested and charged in September 2018 when police stormed the health facility where Wanjiku’s 16-year-old daughter was being treated by Mwita for pregnancy related complications following a sexual assault as a minor.

Under the charges of procuring an abortion, Mwita and Wanjiku faced up to 14 years imprisonment under section 158 of Kenya’s Penal Code—but the Court determined that the prosecution presented no evidence to sustain the charges. Following the acquittal by the Chief Magistrates Court, neither Mwita nor Wanjiku can be charged again for the same allegations.

Kenya’s 2010 Constitution protects abortion as a fundamental right guaranteed when life or health, including mental health, are at risk, and in cases of sexual assault. Despite those protections, Kenya’s Penal Code continues to criminalize abortion, and abortion care remains almost unobtainable in most of the country, especially in rural areas. In addition, women, girls and health care providers continue to face harassment, arrest and prosecution when attempting to access or provide abortion care.

October 9, 2023 in Abortion, Constitutional, Courts, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Ohio Supreme Court Considers Procedural Issues in Appeal of Decision Striking Down Six-Week Abortion Ban

Some of my thoughts on the pending procedural appeal in the case declaring Ohio's six-week abortion ban unconstitutional are included in Eric Heisig, Abortion Case Pits Ohio Against Doctors Suing to Treat Patients, Bloomberg.

For more details and history of this case, go to Court News Ohio, Oral Argument Previews.  Oral arguments are Wednesday, Sept. 27 and are livestreamed by the Court.

In other Ohio news, the Supreme Court upheld the secretary of state's revision of the proposed ballot language for the pro-choice constitutional amendment, changing the word "fetus" to "unborn child."  See Ohio Abortion Rights Activists Suffer Blow in Suit Over Referendum Language.  

September 26, 2023 in Abortion, Constitutional, Courts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 25, 2023

Milan Markovic on "Charging Abortion"

Milan Markovic has posted Charging Abortion on SSRN. The article is forthcoming in the Fordham Law Review. The abstract is excerpted here. 

As long as Roe v. Wade remained good law, prosecutors could largely avoid the question of abortion. The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health has now placed prosecutors at the forefront of the abortion wars. Some chief prosecutors in anti-abortion states have pledged to not enforce anti-abortion laws whereas others are targeting even out-of-state providers. This post-Dobbs reality wherein the ability to obtain an abortion depends not only on the politics of one’s state but also the policies of one’s local district attorney has received minimal scrutiny from legal scholars.

Prosecutors have broad charging discretion, but prevailing ethical rules and standards do not allow them to disregard laws that they regard as unjust. Nevertheless, since prosecutors do not have unlimited resources, and abortion cases are complex and sensitive, they should use their discretion to focus only on cases where abortion care endangers women and in instances of coercion, as they did pre-Roe. Extraterritorial applications of anti-abortion law are constitutionally suspect and are unlikely to further the public interest.

Abortion is one of the most contentious issues in American life. In a morally pluralistic society, prosecutors must strive for neutrality in the abortion wars by relying on professional standards to guide their charging discretion rather than following public opinion and the dictates of individual conscience.

September 25, 2023 in Abortion, Courts, Pregnancy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 18, 2023

Abortion Law as Protection Narrative

Lolita Buckner Inniss has published Abortion Law as Protection Narrative in volume 101 of the Oregon Law Review (2023). Here is the abstract: 

Is there value in exploring centuries-old legal historical accounts in the assessment of contemporary legal matters? If the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is any example, the answer is decidedly yes. In Dobbs, the Court relied upon understandings about abortion and fundamental rights that dated back to the early United States. That reliance, however, fails to address the ways that abortion law narratives have consistently been structured: most such narratives center on the idea of protection, in one form or another. Dobbs also fails to acknowledge that the notion of protection is contingent and contested. This Article centers on a key protection narrative in the history of United States abortion law: the case of the Reverend Ammi Rogers, a popular but unconventional Yale-educated Episcopalian minister. In 1820 Rogers was accused of engaging in nonmarital sex with Asenath Smith, impregnating her, and providing her with an abortion. In telling the story of Rogers’ sensational case, this Article urges analyzing the case as a protection narrative: a story whose goal is to promote the erection of defenses against attack, invasion, or injury or other loss. This Article concludes by asserting that contemporary protection narratives surrounding abortion, such as those seen in the opinion of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, are still as much a part of the modern legal (and political) landscape as those protection narratives that helped to give birth to the earliest codified abortion law in the United States.


September 18, 2023 in Abortion, Courts, Healthcare, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

I. India Thusi Reviews Maybell Romero's "Ruined"

I. India Thusi has published a review of Maybell Romero's article, Ruined, 111 Geo. L.J. 237 (2022). Thusi's review is titled Un-Marking Rape Victims. Thusi writes: 

[Romero's] vulnerability in this piece is laudable, but her positionality as someone who has experienced the trauma of rape makes her especially qualified to assess how a rape victim might experience judges marking them as ruined. And labeling someone as ruined is a marking. Ruined means “the physical destruction or disintegration of something or the state of disintegrating or being destroyed.” Ruined reflects a permanence. A complete destruction of the person. It is an irrevocable status, and when the highest authority within a courtroom – the judge – labels a victim ruined, it is a permanent marking of the person’s disintegration. Romero experienced the harm of this labeling as she sat in courtrooms listening to judges repeatedly mark rape victims ruined. She was able to identify the issues with this labelling because of her subjective position in society, and she is using the tools of the law, which include legal scholarship, to address this harm that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

* * * 

Romero’s piece invites judges to embrace a language that rejects a narrative that reduces rape victims to the permanent status of ruination. Given the legal history of rape, the direct harm that might flow from labeling someone permanently destroyed, and Maybell’s personal account of how she experienced the use of the term, I am persuaded that judges should avoid this term. I hope others in the legal academy are similarly moved by this remarkable article.

Romero's full article is available here

September 18, 2023 in Courts, Gender, Judges, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Center for Reproductive Rights Files Three Suits on Behalf of Pregnant Women Denied Abortion Care

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed three more suits last week on behalf of patients denied abortions while facing grave medical conditions. Here are the CRR's summaries of the cases and links to the complaints:  

IdahoBrought on behalf of four women denied abortion care, two physicians and the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP), Adkins v. State of Idaho challenges the limited scope of the medical exceptions to Idaho’s two abortion bans. The medical exception to Idaho’s near-total ban permits abortion only to prevent death, and its six-week ban—with “vigilante”-style civil liability provisions—similarly has a narrow medical exception. Clarifying the laws’ exceptions would allow physicians to provide life-saving care without waiting for patients to be near death. The lawsuit also seeks to clarify and expand the exceptions under the two bans to ensure physicians can provide abortion care to preserve a pregnant person’s health and for cases of fatal fetal diagnoses. The case was filed in Idaho state court.

TennesseeBrought on behalf of three women denied abortion care and two physicians, Blackmon v. State of Tennessee challenges the limited scope of the “emergent medical condition” exception to Tennessee’s total abortion ban. Such clarification would allow physicians to provide life-saving care without waiting for patients to be near death. The lawsuit also seeks to clarify that the law’s exception permits abortion for cases of fatal fetal diagnoses. The case was filed in Tennessee state court.

OklahomaIn this action, the Center filed a complaint against Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, alleging it violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) when it denied medically indicated abortion care to a woman suffering a life-threatening pregnancy complication. The complaint under EMTALA—a federal law requiring hospital emergency departments to provide “stabilizing treatment,” which can include abortion care—was filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

September 18, 2023 in Abortion, Courts, Healthcare, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Biden Administration Asks the Supreme Court to Intervene in Mifepristone Litigation

The Department of Justice petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the Fifth Circuit's decision in U.S. Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. Here are key excerpts: 

The Fifth Circuit’s decision warrants this Court’s review because it would impose an unprecedented and profoundly disruptive result: Neither respondents nor the courts below identified any prior decision abrogating FDA’s approval of a drug or limiting a drug’s availability based on a disagreement with the agency’s judgment about safety or effectiveness much less doing so at the behest of plaintiffs with such an attenuated claim of standing and imminent harm.
In taking that step here, the Fifth Circuit countermanded a scientific judgment FDA has maintained across multiple administrations; imposed unnecessary restrictions on the distribution of a drug that has been safely used by millions of Americans over more than two decades; and upset reliance interests in a healthcare system that depends on the availability of mifepristone as an alternative to surgical abortion for women who choose to lawfully terminate their early pregnancies. At earlier stages of this case, hundreds of amici filed briefs underscoring the harmful consequences of the lower
courts’ decisions.
Beyond those destabilizing practical consequences, the Fifth Circuit’s decision also warrants this Court’s review because of its serious legal errors.  
For a full summary of the case, check out this coverage at

September 11, 2023 in Abortion, Courts, Healthcare, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Judicial Dark Matter and the Continued Gender and Racial Inequalities on Federal Appellate Panels

Nina Varsava, Keith Carlson, Michael Livermore & Daniel Rockmore,  Judicial Dark Matter, 91 U. Chicago L. Rev. (forthcoming)  

Judicial reform efforts aimed at rectifying historical gender and racial inequalities understandably focus on increasing the number of women and people of color on the bench. While this is an important program, this Article sheds light on another aspect of the representation problem, which will not necessarily be resolved through greater diversity in judicial appointments. This problem has to do with the understudied and largely covert practices of judicial administration. Through a large-scale empirical study of federal appellate decisions, we examine the distribution of judges along the lines of gender and race across decision panels and find systematic gender and racial biases in representation. We argue that these imbalances are most likely a product of disparities in decision reporting; some decisions, which we call judicial dark matter, go unreported, which results in concerning distortions in reported cases. This is the first study of the representation and distribution of judges by gender and race across decision panels. Ultimately, our findings suggest that assessing the distribution of legal power and influence across gender and racial groups based on the numbers of judges from these groups serving on the bench may be misleading and may create an inflated sense of the influence of judges from historically underrepresented groups. The diversity reform agenda, then, as it is typically cast in the scholarly literature, the political sphere, and the popular media alike, is incomplete. One cannot hope to understand how representation translates into power nor to remedy demographic power imbalances in the judiciary without attending to the features of judicial administration examined here. We propose reforms to judicial administration aimed to protect against the kind of demographic biases in representation that we uncover.

August 30, 2023 in Courts, Gender, Judges, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 21, 2023

Lawsuit Challenges U.S. Dept. of Veteran's Affairs' Policy Limiting Access to IVF

The National Organization for Women is suing the United States Department of Veteran's Affairs over its policy limiting access to in vitro fertilization to only opposite-sex and married couples. For news coverage of the lawsuit, check out 19th News here.  The complaint alleges that the existing policy requires as follows:

6. Veterans and service members seeking coverage of IVF treatments must, together with a spouse, be able to provide their own sperm and eggs and are prohibited from using gametes from third parties (“Member Gamete Requirements”). Defendants’ policy also limits the benefit to service members and veterans who are lawfully married (“Marriage Requirements”).


7. Additionally, no matter how much an active-duty service member struggles with fertility, only active-duty service members with a “serious or severe” illness or injury from service can access IVF. Similarly, only veterans with infertility diagnosed as “service-connected” can receive IVF from VHA (“Service-Connection Requirements”).


8. The IVF policies facially exclude service members who are a) single or in an unmarried couple; b) unable to use their own eggs or sperm because of illness or injury; c) in a same-sex couple or couple with the same reproductive organs; or d) lacking a service-connected disability or Category II or III illness causing infertility.


The complaint alleges that this policy is discriminatory and it seeks injunctive and declaratory relief: 

9. By excluding service members and veterans from IVF coverage on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, marital status, and/or the cause of their infertility, Defendants’ discriminatory policies violate Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, the due process and equal protection guarantees of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, and the Administrative Procedure Act.


* * *  


11. NOW-NYC seeks injunctive and declaratory relief on behalf of itself and its members enjoining Defendants from enforcing the discriminatory eligibility provisions of their IVF policies and declaring those provisions unlawful, so that no service member or veteran is denied the care they need to start a family solely because of who they love, their choice whether or not to marry, or the precise source of their fertility challenges. Specifically, NOW-NYC asks that this court declare unlawful and permanently enjoin Defendants from enforcing the Marriage Requirements, the Member Gamete Requirements, and the Service-Connection Requirements (collectively, the “Discriminatory Provisions”).


The full complaint is available here. 


August 21, 2023 in Courts, Equal Employment, Healthcare, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights, Same-sex marriage, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)