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Supreme Court appears poised to act quickly on Texas abortion law challenge

by | Jun 25, 2015

By Dave Andrusko

USSupremeCourtbldgVeteran Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston reported Wednesday that the justices will likely act promptly on the request by abortionists to delay the impact of two provisions of Texas’ H.B. 2 scheduled to go into effect in July until the High Court acts on an appeal they will file later.

As we explained Monday, the provisions at issue are the requirements that abortionists have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles in case of medical emergencies and that abortion clinics meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers.

Denniston reported that Justice Antonin Scalia told attorneys for the state of Texas to reply by 4 p.m. Friday. “Scalia has the authority to act on his own, but he probably will share the issue with his colleagues, as he did in October when the Court dealt with the Texas case at a preliminary stage,” Denniston reported.

The justices appear poised to take some action on the delay request by early next week when its current term ends but not on the appeal itself.

Denniston also reported

Both of those provisions have been upheld, in nearly all situations in the state, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. It modified the surgical facilities requirement slightly to accommodate the clinic in McAllen, the only clinic performing abortions in a wide area of southwest Texas. The Fifth Circuit divided two to one in refusing to delay the enforcement of the law.

As we also reported, there are multiple reasons why this case could be especially important:

First, 16 states have protective laws requiring that abortionists have admitting privileged in a nearby hospital while 22 states have laws mandating that abortion clinics be treated like ASCs.

Second, the justices may—or may not—wish to revisit what it means by an “undue burden” on a woman’s “right” to abortion, first articulated in the 1992 Casey decision.

And third, if the High Court does take the case, a decision could come down a year from now, squarely in the middle of the 2016 presidential contest.

Categories: Judicial
Tags: H.B. 2