In what has been a series of cases in the Supreme Court that will have a significant impact on the upcoming November election, Chief Justice Roberts joined the liberal side of the court in a 5-4 decision that upholds abortion rights in Louisiana. As progressives and pro-life advocates feared the conservative leaning body would work to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision in favor of pro-choice groups is a loss for pro-life advocates and conservatives nationwide, and will bring the long-time fight between the two voting sectors back to the forefront ahead of the presidential election. This is the first abortion case decision by the Supreme Court during the Trump administration. President Trump seems understands the promise to his base of a conservative court, and has promised a list of conservative judges by September 1, 2020.
The case centered on a Louisiana law that made admission to an abortion clinic harder through requiring the doctors at the clinic to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. This abortion regulation issued red tape to clinics throughout the state, and mirrors a Texas abortion law that was struck down by the court in 2016. In dissent, Chief Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “As is often the case with legal challenges to abortion regulations, this suit was brought by abortionists and abortion clinics. Their sole claim before this Court is that Louisiana’s law violates the purported substantive due process right of a woman to abort her unborn child.”
Why this matters: Many voters, and especially the pro-life base, vote for a president with the understanding of their power to appoint Supreme Court justices. The Supreme Court’s ability to have an impact on state law, and make decisions on appeals from the lower courts has a serious effect on nationwide politics. As the justices are appointed to life terms, their power is often grossly more long lasting than Congress, whose members can be easily voted out of office in a two or six year period. While certain polls show Trump’s base losing enthusiasm for the president, this decision today may have a big impact on his campaign by firing up pro-life advocates who understand the need of a Republican president to achieve victories for issues they are fighting for.