March 6, 2020

June Medical

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court held arguments in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, a case challenging a Louisiana law requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals. This case is similar to one involving a Texas law that was struck down by the court in 2016. SCOTUS Blog

Also on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told a crowd in front of the court, “I want to tell you, Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch, you have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price… You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” The Hill

Chief Justice John Roberts “criticized [the comments] as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘dangerous’” and “Schumer clarified the next morning that he meant political consequences for the justices, not physical ones. He said it was a ‘gross distortion’ to imply otherwise.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left sees Schumer’s remarks as counterproductive and encourages the Supreme Court to strike down the law.

“Not only did Schumer's rhetoric Wednesday sound foolishly threatening, but it reinforced a persistent view too many Americans hold about their political leadership — that Democrats and Republicans are really nothing more than two sides of the same coin… Schumer ‘must pay a severe price for this!’ Trump tweeted Wednesday night, displaying a distinct lack of self awareness… In the fall, Democratic leaders will want to draw a stark contrast with that kind of provocation. That means rising above Trump's attacks on the judiciary or, in the case of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, refraining from tearing up Trump's State of the Union address. Drawing a contrast means having the discipline to avoid stooping to Trump's level.”
Editorial Board, USA Today

“Democrats are in a real conundrum. On the one hand, many of the Democratic Party’s problems — and American democracy’s problems — stems from the fact that our system is not particularly democratic. If Democrats insist on clinging to all established norms, they entrench a system that locks a majority of voters out of power

“Yet while Democrats could be justified in breaking down some norms that undercut democracy (like, say, the filibuster), Schumer’s statement achieves no policy goal. It neither makes our government less dysfunctional, nor is it likely to inspire Gorsuch or Kavanaugh to behave less ideologically. It’s an unforced error that invites a reprisal without benefiting anyone. Chief Justice Roberts is right that Schumer’s comments are the sort of remarks that have no place in a healthy democracy. But the United States is not a healthy democracy. Until that problem is fixed, the continuing erosion of democratic norms is inevitable.”
Ian Millhiser, Vox

Regarding the proposed law, “More than 450 similarly burdensome laws — known as TRAP, or targeted regulation of abortion providers — have passed in states nationwide over the past decade, closing scores of clinics in the name of protecting women’s safety. It’s a confounding rationale — people are generally made safer with more access to health care, not less. And abortion in particular is one of the safest medical procedures there is. Patients are more likely to land in the hospital after having their wisdom teeth removed than they are after an abortion… Concealing an anti-abortion agenda under the guise of efforts to protect women’s health has been an effective legal strategy, though some of those TRAP laws have been successfully challenged in court… Better to quietly chip away at Roe, the thinking goes, than to rip it away at once.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

“The admitting privileges requirement will not make anyone safer, but it does demonstrably shutter abortion clinics. As a result, less than four years ago, the Supreme Court struck down a nearly identical Texas law in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt* after finding that the law provided no benefit to offset the ‘undue burden’ it imposed upon women in Texas… If the Supreme Court now rules in favor of Louisiana, the court will upend its own legal precedent in Whole Woman’s Health* and further erode public confidence in our judiciary, all in pursuit of restricting abortion access.”
Julie F. Kay and Kathryn Kolbert, Slate

“Both the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have said there is no health reason for admitting privileges… Office-based abortion clinics reported a less than 0.5% risk of hospitalization followed a first-trimester abortion, the most common type… As attorney Julie Rikelman of the Center for Reproductive Rights argued for the medical center and doctors who filed the suit, not only is the complication rate for abortion low, ‘but when complications do occur, it’s almost always after the woman has left the clinic.’ At that point, a woman would go to the hospital nearest her home. Also, 40% of abortions in Louisiana are medication-induced, so any complications from those will happen when the patient is at home, anyway.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

From the Right

The right condemns Schumer’s remarks and urges the Supreme Court to allow the law to stand.

The right condemns Schumer’s remarks and urges the Supreme Court to allow the law to stand.

“Schumer threatened Gorsuch and Kavanaugh by name outside the Supreme Court — he was not threatening elected officials, but appointed judges, who never face political consequences. To claim now that he was only talking about President Trump, Senate Republicans, and political consequences is a blatant and brazen act of dishonesty… Few in the history of the U.S. Senate have deserved a censure as badly as Schumer deserves one for his attack on Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and his subsequent lies in denial of what he said.”
Becket Adams, Washington Examiner

“The attacks and threats thrill the progressive base, but they are about as politically wise as impeachment. The most important step Mr. Trump took on his path to the presidency was releasing his list of proposed replacements for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. That inventory of impressive jurists not only reassured conservatives but motivated them to vote. Mr. Trump will make sure his court successes are at the center of his re-election campaign. He will again highlight the stakes, especially for the Supreme Court. And here are Democrats making his case more powerful by promising not only to put an end to Trump picks, but to undo his court victories to date. Talk about a Republican turnout motivator.”
Kimberly A. Strassel, Wall Street Journal

Regarding the proposed law, “Louisiana abortion clinics have routinely committed health and safety violations… We’re talking about serious infractions — untrained staff, expired medications, unsafe and unsanitary clinic conditions, lack of emergency medical equipment, failure to keep proper medical records, failure to monitor patients’ vital signs, and more. Louisiana tried to address these problems by, among other things, requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges…

“The 5th Circuit decision found that no abortion clinic in Louisiana would close because of this law, and that at most it would create a one hour delay, at just one of the clinics, for those seeking abortion. That’s hardly the deprivation of a fundamental right. The court also found that the only reason some of the abortionists did not have hospital admitting privileges was that, in the words of the 5th Circuit Court, they ‘sat on their hands’ rather than apply for those privileges.”
Frank Pavone, Washington Examiner

Dated But Relevant: “First, [the law in question] creates uniformity in the law by bringing abortion providers under the same requirements that already applied to physicians providing similar types of services at other ambulatory surgical centers. Second, the law performs a credentialing function. Since hospitals perform more rigorous and intensive background checks than do abortion clinics in Louisiana, requiring a physician to have admitting privileges at a hospital ensures that the physician has the requisite skills and capacity to perform relevant procedures—in this case, abortions. Third, the law helps ensure that women who suffer complications from abortion procedures receive continuity of care by enabling the direct and efficient transfer of both the patient and her medical records to a local hospital.”
Rachel N. Morrison, Federalist Society Review

“The Louisiana law differs from the Texas law in practice, resulting in no substantial burden to women. For instance, Texas hospitals require doctors to admit a minimum number of patients each year in order to retain their admitting privileges, resulting in more abortion facility closures, but few Louisiana hospitals require such minimums. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Act 620, saying that since only one doctor at a single facility in Louisiana was unable to obtain admitting privileges, there is no evidence Act 620 would result in any closures. While the Texas law led to a 350 percent increase in women having to drive more than 150 miles to get abortions, driving distances did not increase as a result of the Louisiana law.”
Kylee Zempel, The Federalist

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