Roberts, high court liberals toss strict abortion law.
WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics, reasserting a commitment to abortion rights over fierce opposition from dissenting conservative justices in the first big abortion case of the Trump era.
Chief Justice John Roberts and his four more liberal colleagues ruled that the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violates abortion rights the court first announced in the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973.
The outcome is not the last word on the decadeslong fight over abortion with dozens of state restrictions winding their way through the courts. But the decision was a surprising defeat for abortion opponents, who thought that a new con
servative majority with two of President Trump’s appointees on board would start chipping away at abortion access.
The key vote belonged to Roberts, who had always voted against abortion rights before, including in a 2016 case in which the court struck down a Texas law that was virtually identical to the one in Louisiana.
The chief justice wrote he continues to think the Texas case was wrongly decided, but believes it’s important for the court to stand by its prior decisions. “The result in this case is controlled by our decision four years ago,” Roberts wrote.
The case was the third in two weeks in which
Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, joined the court’s liberals in the majority. One of the earlier decisions preserved the legal protections and work authorization for 650,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The other extended federal employmentdiscrimination protections to LGBT Americans.
In dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “Today a majority of the Court perpetuates its illfounded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without jurisdiction.”
Antiabortion demonstrators gather in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington.