Earlier this week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of the Texas abortion law (SB2) which effectively shuttered abortion clinics across the state.
In the transcript, the lady justices were fierce during argument, pointing out the hypocrisy of suggesting women could leave the state to go to clinics which weren't burdened with the same restrictions as Texas clinics.
Still, with an even number of Justices on the Court, it was possible that this could be one of those split decisions that left all of the Circuit Court decisions in place, even if in conflict with one another.
Today, the Supreme Court lifted a stay which allows Louisiana clinics to remain open, pending resolution of the same issues as the Texas challenges winding their way through the courts.
The Supreme Court handed down a brief order Monday allowing four Louisiana abortion clinics to reopen after they were closed due to a recent decision by a conservative federal appeals court.
Last week, an especially conservative panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit handed down an “emergency” decision permitting an anti-abortion Louisiana law to go into effect. Under this law, physicians cannot perform abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital — an increasingly common requirement masterminded by an anti-abortion group that drafts model bills for state legislatures. A challenge to a similar Texas law is currently pending before the justices.
The Supreme Court’s order temporarily suspends the Louisiana law, effectively preventing the Fifth Circuit’s Wednesday decision from taking effect. Only Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly dissented from the Court’s order.
The order itself follows logic. The Texas case is pending, and the Louisiana case centers on the very same issues. There's no logical reason to allow a law to go into effect that might be struck down in another case.
But there might still be a glimmer of some handwriting on the wall there. With Justice Thomas as the sole dissent, it could be that they've already voted on the Texas case and found a majority that says it goes too far.
For women in Louisiana, it's welcome news, whatever the ultiimate outcome.