Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Supremely surprising

A 6-3 SCOTUS majority finds that the Texas abortion restrictions are too harsh.  For now.

On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court issued an injunction that will allow abortion clinics in Texas to remain open, temporarily blocking a package of harsh abortion restrictions that Texas lawmakers approved last summer. That measure, which was unsuccessfully filibustered by gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, requires that abortion clinics make costly renovations to bring their building codes in line with ambulatory surgical centers and stipulates that abortion doctors must secure admitting privileges from local hospitals.

Socratic Gadfly points out that Davis won the battle staged by her filibuster.  For the time being.

The Supreme Court order noted that Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas disagreed with the Court’s injunction. The decision will now remain in effect until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit “rules on a constitutional challenge to the two measures,” SCOTUS blog reports.

And once more, the fellow who is presumptively the next governor of Texas shows us what a really weak lawyer looks like.

In response, Greg Abbott, Texas’ attorney general and the Republican candidate for governor, told the justices that “it is undisputed that the vast majority of Texas residents (more than 83 percent) still live within a comfortable driving distance (150 miles)” of an abortion clinic in compliance with the law. Others live in parts of the state, he said, that did not have nearby clinics in the first place.

Those in the El Paso area, Mr. Abbott continued, could obtain abortions across the state line in New Mexico.

It's disputed, Wheels, and you lost.  You lost John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.  That is losing.  The only good news for you is that it ain't over just yet.

Last November, the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 ruling, rejected a request to intercede in a separate case challenging the law, one that centered on the admitting-privileges requirement. In dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he expected the Supreme Court to agree to hear an appeal in that case regardless of how the Fifth Circuit ultimately ruled.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld the admitting-privileges requirement in March. On Thursday, the full Fifth Circuit refused, 12 to 3, to reconsider that ruling. In light of Justice Breyer’s comment, Supreme Court review of the admitting-privileges case appears likely.

I wonder if Ken Paxton can argue this case any worse.  I'm guessing yes.

More from RH Reality Check and the Houston Press.  Charles has a post that also covers the other big court ruling from yesterday, the voter ID decision by the Fifth Circuit, with a good roundup of the various linkage in both cases.

Update: And more also from MSNBC, including the snip from Rachel Maddow's report last evening.

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