Americans United for Life filed a “friend of the court” brief in Hopkins v. Jegley, arguing that the Eighth Circuit correctly applied the Casey standard when it vacated and remanded the district court’s injunction.
In June, the United States Supreme Court handed down a split decision in June Medical Services v. Russo, the Louisiana admitting privileges case. Although Chief Justice Roberts concurred in judgment with the plurality, led by Justice Bryer, in striking down Louisiana’s law, the Chief Justice wrote separately. His concurring opinion overruled sub silentio Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Texas admitting privileges case that established a cumbersome benefits-burdens test in 2016.
Responding to the Chief’s concurrence, a panel of judges on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded an injunction halting enforcement of four Arkansas laws on the grounds that it wrongly applied the cost-benefit standard of Hellerstedt, and that under the more permissive Casey standard the laws would have stood.
The four laws at issue in this case were duly passed by the Arkansas General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Asa Hutchinson. They went into effect in August, and are: 1) a ban on dismemberment abortion, 2) a law requiring humane disposal of fetal remains, 3) a mandatory reporting law regarding sexual abuse of minors, and 4) a prenatal non-discrimination law, preventing abortion sex-selective abortions.
Several of the laws at issue in this case are based on or similar to AUL model bills, which have been held constitutionally sound in other states. The Eighth Circuit appropriately applied the standard established in June Medical Services, and should deny the motion for rehearing, allowing the Arkansas laws to remain in effect.
Katie Glenn, Government Affairs Counsel for Americans United for Life, said:
The Hellerstedt test was confusing and subjective. State lawmakers and judges alike were unsure of how to apply it, which is why the Supreme Court heard a remarkably similar case just four years later. While June Medical was a loss for women in Louisiana, I am pleased to see the Eighth Circuit recognize the long-term implications of the Chief Justice’s concurring opinion and return to the Casey test. Hopefully other circuits will follow suit.”
Americans United for Life (AUL) is a nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization that holds the distinction of being the first national pro-life organization in America—incorporated in 1971. It protects and defends human life from conception to natural death through vigorous legislative, judicial, and educational efforts.
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