The unsettled future of Supreme Court abortion cases

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Brynn Putnam sells her fitness startup Mirror for $500 million, Ava DuVernay will chronicle Colin Kaepernick’s teen years in a new series, and a nuanced Supreme Court ruling on abortion leaves the issue largely unsettled. Have a lovely Tuesday.

– An unsettled future. Relief, not outright celebration, was the reaction of pro-choice advocates after yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a Louisiana law requiring doctors at clinics that perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges.

The case had been the first opportunity for the Trump-era Supreme Court, with its newly conservative majority, to start rolling back abortion precedents.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s four liberal judges in striking down the law that would have made abortions all but inaccessible in the state of Louisiana. Had the law been upheld, a single doctor in a single clinic in the state would have been able to perform the procedure.

Though he aligned with the court’s liberal cohort, Roberts wrote a solo explanation for his decision, which differed from his peers’. His rationale was a fierce adherence to prior Supreme Court precedent. Because the court had decided an almost identical case involving Texas in 2016, Roberts said the Louisiana case deserved the same outcome, even though Roberts had personally dissented in the previous ruling.

That nuance leaves the future of abortion cases unsettled. On one hand, the ruling was narrow, directly snuffing out just one legal avenue anti-abortion advocates have pursued. On the other hand, Roberts indicates he’s unwilling at this point to overturn the court’s jurisprudence backing a woman’s right to choose.

What’s more certain is that women’s reproductive rights and the makeup of the Supreme Court will remain top agenda items in the 2020 election cycle—in the presidential race and Senate contests—since any future Supreme Court nominee will play an outsize role in shaping forthcoming decisions on the matter.

Claire Zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe. 

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