The procedural ruling allows the Republican Kentucky administration to appeal a lower court ruling against state law.
The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed Kentucky’s Republican attorney general to take over the defense of a restrictive abortion law after the state’s Democratic governor dropped the case when lower courts overturned the law.
Judges on Thursday ruled 8-1 in favor of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the state’s top legal officer, in his appeal against a lower court’s dismissal of his request to intervene in the litigation. A federal appeals court ruled that Cameron’s request to revive the law came too late.
The judges concluded that even if the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had already rendered its decision in the case, it should have used its discretion to allow the state’s attorney general to step in to prosecute. rehearing or appeal to the Supreme Court. To research.
The Supreme Court ruling was written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito and joined by the other five conservative justices. Liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer agreed with the judgment, while Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
Republican-backed abortion restrictions enacted by many US states in recent years have continued to draw the attention of the nation’s highest court.
The 2018 Republican-backed law in Kentucky placed strict limits on the use of an abortion method called dilation and evacuation – the most common form of the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy in the second trimester. Abortion rights advocates said the law would effectively ban the procedure, although its supporters denied it was a ban.
The law was passed by the state legislature and signed by then-Governor Matt Bevin. Bevin, a Republican, later lost his 2019 re-election bid to Democrat Andy Beshear.
EMW Women’s Surgical Center, an abortion clinic in Louisville, challenged the Kentucky law. He argued that Cameron should not be able to pursue the case because the state attorney general’s office previously agreed to be bound by the lower court’s final judgment and then failed to appeal. .
The case heard by the Supreme Court did not involve the legality of the law, instead focusing on the narrow legal issue of Cameron’s right to act when another state official refuses.
The case highlights the sometimes messy conflicts that arise when a governor and a state’s top legal official differ over political or party views, sometimes resulting in disagreements over whether to uphold certain state laws. state in court.
Beshear’s administration dropped the case after the 6th Circuit ruled the law violated Supreme Court precedents that women have the right under the U.S. Constitution to obtain an abortion. The Kentucky Health Department had continued to defend the law in court after Beshear took office, but chose not to pursue the case after the 6th Circuit ruling. Cameron then sought unsuccessfully to take over the defense.
Abortion opponents hope the Supreme Court, with its 6-3 conservative majority, will roll back abortion rights.
Judges heard arguments in December over a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a case in which that state asks them to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalized the procedure nationwide. country. A decision in this case is due at the end of June.