NRL News

Supreme Court agrees it will decide whether Attorney General can intervene to defend Kentucky’s law banning the dismemberment of living unborn babies

by | Mar 30, 2021

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-life Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron

On Monday we discussed how the Supreme Court had agreed to consider whether or not to allow pro-life Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to intervene to defend HB 454, the state’s 2018 law outlawing the barbaric practice of dismembering living unborn children. This was very important because the administration of pro-abortion Democratic Governor Andy Beshear dropped the case following a split Sixth Circuit panel’s decision to uphold an injunction against HB 454.

But there was much more that could be said about the High Court agreeing to hear the appeal filed by the Kentucky Attorney General in Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center.

#1. An important distinction not clearly made. What was at issue was whether or not AG Cameron would be allowed to join in the defense of a law that the legislature had passed overwhelmingly and which had been signed into law by then-Gov. Matt Bevin. That issue—not whether HB 454 is constitutional– “will be scheduled for oral argument sometime in the fall,” as Amy Howe wrote. Whether the Supreme Court subsequently takes up the 6th Circuit’s conclusion that HB 454 is unconstitutional is yet to be determined.

#2. Why did Cameron take his case to the Supreme Court? Just a little history about HB 454 about which we have reported before. On June 3, 2020, a split three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the trial judge’s conclusion that the law was unconstitutional. Judge John Bush, appointed by President Donald Trump, offered a brilliant 10-page dissent in which he systematically dismantled the majority opinion.

When Beshear’s new health secretary, Eric Friedlander, declined to appeal, Cameron asked the 6th Circuit to allow him to intervene. However the appeals court turned him down, saying he was too late. Cameron then took his case to the Supreme Court.

#3. What arguments were offered for and against allowing AG Cameron to participate? NBC News’ Pete Williams wrote

Cameron urged the Supreme Court to take the case, saying the appeals court’s refusal to let him defend the law blocked him from doing what state law requires. He said the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in California, allowed state attorneys general to intervene during the later stages of litigation.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the surgical center, urged the justices to stay out of the dispute. It said the 6th Circuit’s ruling was “merely the routine application of the rules.” The law at issue “would effectively prohibit abortion in Kentucky after the first weeks of the second trimester,” the group said.

Categories: Judicial