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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Supreme Court struck down abortion restrictions in Louisiana on Monday, a sign that even if the court's newly expanded conservative majority wants to chip away at abortion rights, it will likely do so incrementally.

Why it matters: The court's 5-4 ruling largely leaves the status quo of abortion law unchanged, affirms the court’s precedents and leaves big decisions about the future of abortion access for another day.

The big picture: Louisiana had required abortion providers to maintain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The Supreme Court struck down nearly identical requirements in Texas in 2016. And the justices said today that their earlier decision controls this case, too.

  • Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's more liberal justices in the decision, though his concurrence was based on the precedent established by the Texas case.

This is not a particularly groundbreaking ruling on the law.

  • But it will likely upset conservative activists who want to see the court — and Roberts, in particular — constrain abortion rights and move more aggressively on a host of issues.
  • This is the third blockbuster case in a row, following rulings last week protecting LGBTQ workers and upholding the DACA immigration program, in which at least one of the conservative justices sided with the liberals.

The bottom line: Legal experts from both sides of the ideological divide still expect the court to ultimately chip away at access to abortion and narrow the scope of the precedents that make it legal.

  • And it will likely get there by upholding state laws that place some type of limits on access to the procedure. Those laws will need to be a little more different from restrictions the court has already, and recently, struck down.

Read the ruling.

Go deeper

Oct 6, 2020 - Technology

In Google/Oracle case, Supreme Court will weigh software's future

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Oracle and Google will have their day at the Supreme Court Wednesday, tangling via teleconference in oral arguments aimed at resolving a decade-long battle over whether common interfaces between software programs can be protected by copyright.

Why it matters: The case lies at the heart of how modern software development works, and each side says a ruling in the other's favor will chill innovation. More narrowly, the Supreme Court may settle the question of whether Google owes Oracle nearly $9 billion in damages, as Oracle claims.

Updated 34 mins ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

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