Monday, February 06, 2012

Judge Sam Sparks, the 5th Circuit, and the Texas sonogram law

This is a somewhat remarkable rebuke by a federal judge of his peers up the food chain.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks declined to stop a new sonogram law from taking effect in a ruling Monday that indicates his hands were tied by an appellate court.

"There can be little doubt that (the law) is an attempt by the Texas Legislature to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights by making it more difficult for caring and competent physicians to perform abortions," Sparks wrote in his decision.

"It appears the (three judge appellate court panel) has effectively eviscerated the protections of the First Amendment in the abortion context," and "in no other medical context does the government go so far in telling doctors what they must, and must not, do," Sparks said in the ruling.

Sparks granted a temporary restraining order last fall, which kept the law from taking effect, but three judges from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last month overturned Sparks, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush.

I've often wondered how the ultra-right freaks on the 5th Circuit can stand to live and work in a den of hedonism like New Orleans. They must be appalled.

"It is a terrible injustice that Judge Sparks could not rule in favor of protecting the constitutional rights of Texas doctors because of the Fifth Circuit panel's decision," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "We urge the full Fifth Circuit to consider Judge Sparks' sound legal analysis when reviewing our request for a new hearing."

Nice thought, but it'll never happen unless Obama gets a shot at replacing some of those folks. The Republican obstructionists in the Senate will keep doing their best to block that, too.

See what happens when you vote GOP? Or when you don't show up to vote at all?

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