Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana's Controversial Abortion Law

By Bill Galluccio

June 29, 2020

The Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that required anybody who performs an abortion at a clinic to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Chief Justice John Roberts, who dissented in a similar case in 2016, sided with the liberal justices in the 5-4 decision this time around.

Louisiana's Unsafe Abortion Protection Act was "almost word-for-word identical" to a Texas law that was ruled unconstitutional in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016. Roberts said that he had to rule against Louisiana's law because of the legal precedent set by the Court.

"The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike," Roberts wrote in a concurring opinion. "The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana's law cannot stand under our precedents."

Justice Clarence Thomas rejected Roberts' argument, saying that when the Court's "prior decisions clearly conflict with the text of the Constitution, we are required to 'privilege [the] text over our own precedents.'"

"Today a majority of the Court perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction," Thomas wrote in his dissenting opinion.

Photo: Getty Images

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