Oct 4, 2019

In the Supreme Court, it's all been building to this

In this image, the Supreme Court justices stand in a line

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh on Feb. 5. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

This fall will present the first real test of whether a Supreme Court with two Trump appointees will deliver the change Republicans dreamed of when they stonewalled the nomination of Merrick Garland.

What's new: The Supreme Court agreed to take up a case on Louisiana's abortion law which requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in order to perform an abortion.

  • This is very similar to the Texas law the Supreme Court struck down when Anthony Kennedy was on the bench.

Why it matters: It would be highly unusual for the court to so quickly turn its back on one of its precedents, but that's what the justices would need to do to uphold Louisiana's restrictions, Axios' Sam Baker notes.

  • Brett Kavanaugh, who replaced Kennedy, "has indicated his willingness to undermine or discard the 2016 decision," NPR's Nina Totenberg reports.

Between the lines: This is a deliberate strategy, by red states as well as the conservative legal establishment, to force big abortion cases before the court and provide it the opportunity to roll back abortion rights, per Sam.

  • Alabama's near-total ban on abortion, which is still working its way through legal challenges, is the most aggressive step in that effort.

The bottom line: The decision on this Louisiana case will reexamine what qualifies as an "undue burden" on women seeking an abortion, as defined by Planned Parenthood v. Casey of 1992, Axios' Orion Rummler notes.

  • If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Louisiana's law, it could be more difficult to prove in court that state abortion restrictions are unconstitutional.

Go deeper ... Where abortion restrictions stand: The states that have passed laws

Go deeper