Supreme Court to hear Louisiana abortion law case March 4

By Sommer Brokaw
The U.S. Supreme Court has set a March 4 date for oral arguments over abortion law in Louisiana, which it agreed to review last month. File Photo by Chris Chew/UPI
The U.S. Supreme Court has set a March 4 date for oral arguments over abortion law in Louisiana, which it agreed to review last month. File Photo by Chris Chew/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday it has set March 4 as the date to hear oral arguments in case over physician requirements in a Louisiana abortion law blocked temporarily from taking effect earlier this year.

The case, June Medical Services versus Gee, was listed on a schedule the court released Tuesday afternoon.


At issue, is Act 620, Louisiana's "Unsafe Abortion Protection Act," which would require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital no further than 30 miles from location where abortion is performed.

The Center for Reproductive Rights representing June Medical Services, doing business as Hope Medical Group, originally filed the lawsuit with Rebekah Gee, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, being a defendant, in August 2014.

The controversial law has been tied up in legal battles and blocked since then with the Supreme Court most recently temporarily blocking implementation in February.


The Supreme Court agreed last month to hear arguments over the Louisiana abortion law.

"In 2014, our duly elected legislators overwhelmingly passed Act 620 to require doctors who perform abortion to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals," Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement, which was linked to his Twitter account Tuesday. "Today, the United States Supreme Court has agreed to consider our case; and we remain hopeful the justices will affirm the Fifth Circuit's decision, as we firmly believe that the facts in our case show Act 620 is constitutional and consistent with our overall regulatory scheme for surgical procedures."

CBS News first reported last month that if the law is implemented all of Louisiana's abortion clinics would close.

"All eyes must be on the Supreme Court come March. This case will have lasting consequences for abortion access across the country," Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northrup told CBS News in an emailed statement Tuesday."Many states have been openly defying Supreme Court decisions in an effort to criminalize abortion. At this critical juncture, the court needs to set those states straight."

The Center for Reproductive Rights already filed its opening brief Monday evening as the first of four to be filed before March arguments.


The Louisiana Attorney General's Office has until Dec. 26 to file a response.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal justices in the February decision to temporarily block the law's implementation, but it's unclear if he'll vote to permanently block the law.

The Supreme Court struck down 5-3 a similar law in Texas in 2016, but Roberts voted to uphold the 2016 law.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the Louisiana law wouldn't put the same burden on Louisiana women because it's not as big a state as Texas.

The makeup of the bench has also changed since then with Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote on many decisions, retiring, and President Donald Trump's nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joining.

Still, Northrup expressed hope for the court to make a similar ruling to its decision with the Texas law.

"The facts, the law, and the Constitution have not changed since an identical law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016," Northrup said in a statement. "We are relying on the court to reaffirm that decision and preserve abortion access for women in Louisiana and across the country."


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