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

Pennsylvania GOP asks Supreme Court to halt mail-in ballot extension

Applications for mail-in ballots in Reading, Pennsylvania. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Republicans in Pennsylvania on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a major state court ruling that extended the deadlines for mail-in ballots to several days after the election, The Morning Call reports.

Why it matters: It's the first election-related test for the Supreme Court since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and could decide the fate of thousands of ballots in a crucial swing state that President Trump won in 2016. What the court decides could signal how it would deal with similar election-related litigation in other states.

Sep 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Appeals court upholds six-day extension for counting Wisconsin ballots

Photo: Derek R. Henkle/AFP via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that extended the deadline for counting mail-in ballots in Wisconsin until Nov. 9 as long as they are postmarked by the Nov. 3 election, AP reports.

Why it matters: It's a big win for Democrats that also means that the winner of Wisconsin, a key presidential swing state, may not be known for six days after the election. Republicans are likely to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, as the Pennsylvania GOP did after a similar ruling on Monday.

Go deeper: How the Supreme Court could decide the election

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 28, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The Supreme Court's coming rightward shift on climate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amy Coney Barrett's likely ascension to the Supreme Court would affect climate policy beyond shoving the court rightward in the abstract.

Why it matters: If Joe Biden wins the presidential election, his regulations and potential new climate laws would face litigation that could reach the high court.

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