Yesterday the Court issued additional orders from its November 13 Conference. Perhaps most notably, it denied a request by a New Hampshire anti-abortion group to review a ruling by the First Circuit that upheld the refusal of the Department of Health and Human Services to provide the group with access to documents submitted to the federal government by Planned Parenthood. Lyle Denniston covered the order for this blog, with other coverage coming from NPR’s Nina Totenberg. Continue reading »
Over the dissent of two Justices, the Supreme Court refused to clarify a privacy clause in the Freedom of Information Act that protects commercial information that private organizations are required to share with the federal government. That is Exemption 4, which the Court has never interpreted, according to the dissenting Justices.
The Court’s denial of review of New Hampshire Right to Life v. Department of Health & Human Services thwarted an attempt by an anti-abortion group to get access to internal papers of Planned Parenthood that had been sent to the government in 2011 to support a grant of federal money for family planning projects in New Hampshire. The Court did not explain its order.
On Friday afternoon, the Court announced that it will review a challenge to two provisions of a Texas law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and requires abortion clinics to have facilities equal to an ambulatory surgical center. Molly Runkle rounded up coverage of the order for this blog; additional coverage comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg and from Lawrence Hurley of Reuters, who reports that the announcement “raises questions about the legal fate of similar laws in more than a dozen other states.” (Reuters also has a related graphic on statistics and state laws.) Commentary comes from Michael Bobelian of Forbes, whoe suggests that the “Court’s five conservatives could still institute major changes to the state of the law by applying the standards first issued in Casey in a way that’s more favorable to legislative restrictions of abortion rights.” Continue reading »
The Court issued additional orders from its November 13 Conference on Monday morning, but it did not grant any new cases. (Last Friday the Court added two new cases, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole and Wittman v. Personhuballah, to its docket for the Term.) The December sitting will begin on Monday, November 30.
Oyez has posted audio and transcripts from this week’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court.
The Court heard arguments this week in:
The petition of the day is:
Issue: Whether the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ determination that the property at issue contains “waters of the United States” protected by the Clean Water Act, constitutes “final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court,” and is therefore subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act.
Moving to defend its new immigration policy promptly in the Supreme Court, the Obama administration plans to file its appeal papers by the end of next week, it is understood. That will be less than two weeks after a federal appeals court blocked enforcement of the year-0ld plan to delay deportation of more than four million undocumented immigrants — parents of young people who already are being allowed to remain in the U.S., at least temporarily.
For the case to be heard and decided in the current Term, there can be no significant delays in the unfolding of the Court’s normal process. Ordinarily, if a case is not granted by the end of January — less than three months from now — there would not be time for it to be handled in the usual way, with a decision by late June. It ordinarily takes more than one hundred days for briefs to be filed after a case is granted. The twenty-six states that challenged the policy, so far successfully, could attempt to slow the case down.
The administration is eager to have the legality of its policy settled before the Justices recess for the summer, so that federal agencies can provide the benefits to at least some of the eligible immigrants — a right to remain in the U.S. temporarily, a right to get a job, and access to some public benefits such as getting a driver’s license. The election next November will choose a replacement for President Barack Obama, but he will serve until January 20, 2017, so there could be several months of active enforcement of the policy if the Court upholds it.
This afternoon the Court granted review in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, involving the “undue burden” standard for state laws that restrict the availability of abortions. Writing for this blog, Lyle Denniston covered today’s orders, while Amy Howe covered the grant in “Plain English.”
Other early coverage of this case comes from Pete Williams at NBC News, Mark Sherman of the Associated Press, Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed, Ariane de Vogue at CNN, Sarah Ferris of The Hill, Jeff Overley at Law360, David Savage of the Los Angeles Times, Sam Baker at National Journal, Adam Liptak of The New York Times, Lawrence Hurley of Reuters, Lana Shadwick of Breitbart, Richard Wolf of USA Today, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Haberkorn at Politico, Tony Mauro at the National Law Journal, and Robert Barnes of the Washington Post.
Eight years after its last major ruling on abortion rights, the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon agreed to decide the constitutionality of a 2013 Texas law imposing new rules for clinics and doctors. The earliest that the case would be heard is February. The Court granted review of one of two appeals on such laws; the other was from Mississippi.
In a second order, the Court said it would hold a hearing on a constitutional test of a new congressional districting map for Virginia, but left open the possibility that the case would be dismissed for a procedural reason. The case (Wittman v. Personhuballah) involves District 3, the one congressional district in the state that has a majority-black population. The question is whether race was used unconstitutionally in shaping that district’s lines.
In recent years, the Supreme Court has mostly stayed out of the decades-long battle over abortion rights. But today the Justices stepped back into the abortion wars in a big way. They announced this afternoon that they would review a challenge to a Texas law that, abortion rights supporters say, would close seventy-five percent of the clinics in Texas. Texas officials counter that the law is intended to protect women’s health, and that women will still be able to obtain abortions, even if they may have to drive a little further to do so. Let’s talk about today’s grant in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole in Plain English.
Nearly a quarter-century ago, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a challenge to the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s efforts to restrict abortions by, for example, requiring a married woman to notify her husband that she intended to have an abortion and requiring women under the age of eighteen to first obtain consent from at least one parent. A divided Court reaffirmed that the heart of its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, holding that a woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy in its early stages, was still good law. But it also ruled that states can impose restrictions on that right as long as the restrictions do not impose an “undue burden” on the mother: a law will be struck down if it creates, or is intended to create, a “substantial obstacle” to seeking an abortion before the fetus is able to survive outside the womb. Since then, though, the Court has said very little else about exactly what that “undue burden” standard means. Continue reading »