By a 5-3 vote, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that would have made abortion virtually extinct in the state by requiring them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. The court ruled that the law is unconstitutional because it placed an undue burden on women.
In an opinion written by Justice Breyer and joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, a majority of the court ruled:
Common sense also suggests that a physical facility that satisfies a certain physical demand will generally be unable to meet five times that demand without expanding physically or otherwise incurring significant costs. And Texas presented no evidence at trial suggesting that expansion was possible. Finally, the District Court’s finding that a currently licensed abortion facility would have to incur considerable costs to meet the surgical center requirements supports the conclusion that more surgical centers will not soon fill the gap left by closed facilities.
The majority saw through what Texas was trying to pull. The admitting and surgical center requirements were designed to close virtually all of the state’s abortion providers and take away a woman’s constitutionally protected right to choose.
The Texas law would have left on nine abortion providers in the entire state. The impact of this decision around the country is that it could place stronger constitutional protections for abortion access in every state. Republican run states had already rushed to emulate the Texas laws, but any Republican duplicates will also be unconstitutional under today’s ruling.
The ruling is a major victory for the right to choose, and a crushing defeat for Republicans, who thanks to the previously conservative Supreme Court majority have run virtually unchecked over the constitutional rights of women.
The decision in the Texas case along with last week’s decision for affirmative action are just a taste of what is likely coming for the conservative movement. If Hillary Clinton wins the White House, the days of conservative judicial activism coming from the Supreme Court will come to a formal end, but it can be argued that it already ended the day that Antonin Scala died.
Welcome to the future, Republicans. The Supreme Court issued a ruling based on common sense, and this fact does not bode will for the right-wing ideologues who have been counting on the Supreme Court to implement their unpopular agenda.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association