SCOTUS Rules On Abortion Pill Access Amid Pandemic | Justices Talk T-Swift During Oral Argument
January 13, 2021
YOUR BODY, YOUR CHOICE|
In its first abortion case since JUDGE AMY CONEY BARRETT joined SCOTUS, the justices yesterday handed down a ruling that reinstated a federal requirement that women must receive abortion pills in-person from a hospital or medical office — not via mail. The Supreme Court effectively pushed aside a judge’s prior ruling that receiving in-person medication abortions was dangerous during the COVID-19 public health crisis. JUSTICES SONIA SOTOMAYOR, ELENA KAGAN, and STEPHEN BREYER dissented. Sotomayor wrote in her dissent, which was joined by Kagan, “This country’s laws have long singled out abortions for more onerous treatment than other medical procedures that carry similar or greater risks. One can only hope that the government will reconsider and exhibit greater care and empathy for women seeking some measure of control over their health and reproductive lives in these unsettling times.”
STAY IN YOUR LANE|
In the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday on the administration of abortion pills, the conservative majority did not provide a reasoning for its decision. However, CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS wrote separately to note he wanted to defer to the views of experts. Roberts argued that the question before the justices was whether a federal judge should have second-guessed FDA guidance. Roberts wrote, quoting an earlier opinion, “My view is that courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the ‘background, competence and expertise to assess public health.’” Sotomayor wrote of the FDA rule requiring in-person visits to receive abortion pills, “The FDA’s policy imposes an unnecessary, unjustifiable, irrational, and undue burden on women seeking an abortion during the current pandemic.”
ANOTHER FEDERAL EXECUTION CLEARED|
Jess Bravin with The Wall Street Journal reports on SCOTUS authorizing the execution of a woman, Lisa Montgomery, who was the first female inmate put to death by federal authorities in nearly 70 years. Shortly after midnight, justices denied Montgomery’s application for a stay of execution. She was pronounced dead at 1:31 AM. JUSTICES BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN voted to grant the stay to pursue claims of mental illness that would have rendered her execution unconstitutional. Bravin writes, “Mrs. Montgomery, 52 years old, was convicted in 2007 for the 2004 murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant when the two women met in Skidmore, Mo. Mrs. Montgomery, prosecutors said, cut the baby from Ms. Stinnett’s womb and claimed the infant as her own.”
THERE'S NOTHING LIKE A MAD WOMAN|
Adam Liptak with The New York Times reports, “About 70 minutes into what had been a meandering and technical Supreme Court argument on Tuesday about whether two Georgia students could sue their college for nominal damages, a series of questions about TAYLOR SWIFT brought the issue into focus.” JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN brought up Swift’s sexual assault case in which she sued a Denver radio host she claimed had groped her. Swift sought just one dollar in damages and as Kagan noted during argument, “It was unquestionable physical harm, but she just asked for this one dollar to say that she had been harmed.” Liptak suggests that the discussion on Swift could be a good sign for the students in the case who argue officials at Georgia Gwinnett College violated their First Amendment rights by enforcing “a particularly severe version” of speech codes that have become common on university campuses.
“The Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation into PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S business has slowed as investigators wait for a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to people familiar with the investigation, making it likely that a decision on whether there is a case to bring will be weeks or months away.” Kara Scannell with CNN covers the slow-moving fight over a subpoena for the president’s tax returns.
BOUNCE FROM THE BAR|
Fix the Court sent a letter to the Supreme Court requesting that SENATORS HAWLEY and CRUZ be removed from the Supreme Court Bar for their role in the insurrection at the Capitol last week. GABE ROTH, Executive Director of Fix the Court, shared in a statement today, “It’s unlikely that these senators will be removed from Congress, so we seek a consequence that is both meaningful and achievable. Suspension and removal from the Supreme Court Bar hits that mark, as both senators would find such expulsion deeply unsettling given their SCOTUS experience. We welcome members of the Supreme Court Bar to join us in our effort.”