U.S. Supreme Court

Over 200 federal lawmakers urge SCOTUS to reconsider Roe; DOJ takes narrower stance

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More than 200 members of Congress filed an amicus brief Thursday that encouraged the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider and possibly overrule Roe v. Wade when it decides a case on a restrictive Louisiana abortion law.

Only two of the 207 lawmakers who signed the brief are Democrats, report the Washington Post and the New York Times.

The brief was filed in two consolidated Louisiana cases challenging the constitutionality of a Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions in the state to have admission privileges at a nearby hospital. The law is nearly identical to a Texas law struck down by the high court in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans had upheld the Louisiana law, reasoning that it had a different impact on access to abortion than the Texas law.

The lawmakers’ brief said the 5th Circuit’s struggle to determine the law’s burden on abortion access “illustrates the unworkability of the ‘right to abortion’ found in Roe v. Wade … and the need for the court to again take up the issue of whether Roe and [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled.”

Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 Supreme Court decision, reaffirmed the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade in 1973 and created the “undue burden” standard to evaluate laws that restrict abortions.

In December, 197 members of Congress submitted an amicus brief supporting Roe v. Wade. The ABA has also filed an amicus brief that says the 5th Circuit disregarded the precedent set by Whole Woman’s Health and its decision upholding the Louisiana law should be reversed.

The U.S. Department of Justice also weighed in. Its amicus brief, submitted Thursday, said the Supreme Court should toss the Louisiana case because the abortion providers that brought the case don’t have standing to sue, report Law.com and SCOTUSblog.

If the Supreme Court finds there is standing, the justices should rule that the Louisiana law does not impose an undue burden under Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the government argues.

If Planned Parenthood v. Casey appears to conflict with Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the latter decision should be narrowed or overruled, the DOJ argued.

The Louisiana cases are Gee v. June Medical Services and June Medical Services v. Gee.

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