Louisiana law is virtually identical to a Texas law court struck down in 2016, before Trumps two high court picks took the bench

The US supreme court is adding an abortion case to its busy election-year docket, agreeing to take up a Louisiana law that could leave the state with just one clinic.

The justices will not hear arguments until the winter, and a decision is likely to come by the end of June, four months before the presidential election.

The high court in February indicated it would look at the case when it agreed to block the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The Louisiana law is virtually identical to a Texas law the supreme court struck down in 2016, when Justice Anthony Kennedy was on the bench and before Donald Trumps two high court picks, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

The justices met in private earlier this week to discuss the hundreds of appeals that piled up over the summer.

The most significant of those pending appeals involved abortion regulations in Louisiana and an ultrasound requirement in Indiana, on which the court did not act Friday. Both cases involve the standard first laid out by the court in 1992 that while states can regulate abortion they cannot do things that place an undue burden on a womans right to an abortion.

Louisiana abortion providers and a district judge who heard the case said two of the states three abortion clinics may have to close under the new law. There would be at most two doctors who could meet its requirements, they said.

But the appeals court in New Orleans rejected those claims, doubting any clinics would have to close and saying doctors had not tried hard enough to establish relationships with local hospitals.

In January, the full appeals court voted 9-6 not to get involved in the case, setting up the supreme court appeal.

In February, justices split 5-4 to keep the law on hold. Chief Justice John Roberts, a dissenter in the 2016 case from Texas, joined with the courts four liberal justices to temporarily block the Louisiana measure.

For Roberts, it was a rare vote against an abortion restriction in more than 13 years as chief justice, perhaps a reflection of his new role since Kennedys retirement about the court being perceived as a partisan institution.

Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, along with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, would have allowed Louisiana to begin enforcing the clinic regulations.

The Hope Medical Group clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, and two doctors whose identities are not revealed said in their appeal justices should strike down the law without even holding arguments because the decision so clearly conflicts with the Texas ruling from 2016. The court did not follow that path Friday.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us


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