Supreme Court kills abortion restrictions in Louisiana

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Tuesday, the 30th of June, 2020. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we’re so glad to have you along. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. This is our last day for the June Giving Drive, but as you probably know, you have exceeded the goal we set out. 

Thank you so very much. I’m so humbled by the response!

We hit it around noon yesterday and we’re just so grateful. It’s such a shot in the arm that this mission of Biblically objective journalism means as much to you as it does to us. That’s the message we take away from the generous response we’ve seen during this drive.

EICHER: And that’s what we hear time and again from friends who contribute to our work: Just do more. Here are some more resources, just keep going, and then just do more.

I’ll echo Mary on this. It’s a privilege to do this work, and each time we have a drive, it’s just another reminder of the incredible responsibility you’ve entrusted to us.

We’re leaving up the banner online for the rest of the day today, so if you did want to be part of the June Giving Drive, you can and whatever you send our way that’s what we’ll do with it, we’ll just do more. Because, you know, there’s so much to do. 

So, let’s get to the work:

REICHARD: Absolutely! We’ll start today with analysis on three decisions handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday. 

And we’ll begin with the one that was a bit of a surprise. Another shocker of a decision. This is a split ruling strikes down an abortion law in Louisiana. It required abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. That requirement is no different than for all other ambulatory surgical centers in the state. Yet the majority justices found the rule unduly burdens abortion access.

Challengers to the law were abortionists and abortion businesses who sued to stop the law before it took effect. 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg formed part of the 5-justice majority. She made her position clear during oral argument in March:

GINSBURG: What sense does the 30-mile limit make, considering that certainly for medication abortions and for the overwhelming number of other abortions,  if a woman has a problem, it will be her local hospital she will need to go to for the care. Not something 30 miles from the clinic which has no necessary relationship to where she lives.

EICHER: Back in 2016, five justices decided a nearly identical case out of Texas, striking down its admitting privileges law.  In that case, Chief Justice John Roberts dissented and would have upheld some of the restrictions.

But in this Louisiana case, he joins the liberal majority to uphold the restrictions on the basis of that precedent. That, even though he still says the decision in the Texas case was wrong.

REICHARD: The four dissenting justices:  Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. They argued the majority bent the rules of judicial scrutiny to reach a favored outcome.

Justice Alito wrote that Louisiana adopted the law after the Kermit Gosnell atrocities came to light. Lack of oversight allowed Gosnell for years to kill infants born alive.

And Justice Gorsuch wrote that the majority brushes aside established rules. And that, he wrote, quoting here, “is a sign we have lost our way.”

EICHER: In a second opinion, the court upholds the congressional requirement of an anti-prostitution pledge for overseas groups that receive American funding for HIV/AIDS.

In 2003, the United States created the biggest global health program to fight a single disease. Congress conditioned funding sent overseas to organizations with an explicit policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking. 

But in 2013, the high court decided that policy requirement violated the free speech rights of American organizations that use the money here at home.

REICHARD: Foreign affiliates of American organizations wanted that same standard. But the court said no. It found that these foreign affiliates have no First Amendment rights. Therefore, the policy does not violate the Constitution.

Congress frequently conditions overseas funding to ensure US foreign aid serves American interests. 

This ruling was 5-3 with conservatives in the majority. 

Justice Elena Kagan recused.

EICHER: And finally, a third ruling finds the consumer watchdog agency that grew out of the 2008 financial crisis violates the Constitution.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau remains standing after this ruling, but the structure must change. The Dodd-Frank Act set up the agency, but it left the director largely unaccountable. It placed limits on the president’s ability to fire the director, limiting those reasons only to inefficiency, malfeasance, or neglect.

That’s what the High Court rejected.

You can hear that very argument put forth in March by lawyer Kannon Shanmugam. He argued on behalf of a law firm that objected to one of the agency’s investigations.

SHANMUGAM: The structure of the CFPB is unprecedented and unconstitutional. Never before in American history has Congress given so much executive power to a single individual who does not answer to the president.

REICHARD: Article II of the U.S. Constitution vests executive power in the President, who in turn keeps federal officers accountable with the power to fire them for any reason or no reason. No exceptions. The agency made an exception,  and now it can’t do that.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Clouds roll over the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 29, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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