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Supreme Court agrees 5-4 to keep Louisiana’s law on hold

Late Thursday night, February 7th, just hours before Louisiana’s admitting privileges law would go into effect, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed 5-4 to grant June Medical Service’s emergency request to put the law on hold while the case is appealed. 

This decision comes after Justice Samuel Alito temporarily put Louisiana’s admitting privileges law on hold through Thursday so that all the justices could have more time to review the abortion provider’s request. 

No rationale was given for the Court’s decision, which is normal for emergency requests. Despite dissenting in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which involved a similar Texas law, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court’s more liberal justices—Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan—in (presumably) agreeing that there was a “reasonable probability” the Court will agree to take the case and ultimately find the law unconstitutional. 

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh would have denied the abortion provider’s request and let Louisiana’s law go into effect. Justice Kavanaugh wrote a dissent explaining his reasons for why he would not have put Louisiana’s law on hold. He pointed out the many “factual uncertainties” involved in this case and said that there was no reason at this time for the Court to put the law on hold because if abortion doctors in Louisiana really can’t obtain admitting privileges, they could file an as-applied challenge later. 

The hold on Louisiana’s law will automatically be lifted if the case is not timely appealed, if the Court decides not to take the case after all, or after hearing the case when the Court issues a final judgment. 

This case is not going away, as June Medical Services will likely appeal and ask the Supreme Court to permanently stop Louisiana’s law. At that point, the Justices will have more time to look at all of the specific factual nuances in the case. Once they do, AUL is confident that the Justices will vote to uphold Louisiana’s common-sense safety measure that will protect Louisiana women from substandard abortion doctors.