Elder Patriot – WTF is it with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts?
A decade ago, while ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Roberts abandoned the Constitution.
He ignored the long-held protection preventing the federal government from forcing its citizens to buy a product they might not have wanted. Instead, Roberts took it upon himself to rewrite the law that was in front of him.
He qualified penalty attached to the individual mandate by labeling it a tax, in direct contradiction to the Obama administration’s claim that it was not a new tax while lobbying the public for approval.
Instead of returning the law to the legislature so that the people’s representatives could wrestle with the proper wording, Roberts made himself the deciding vote in saving Obamacare. Strike one.
That preserved the ACA’s demand on insurers to pay for contraception and abortions. Roberts decision pitted the Obama administration squarely against practicing Christians and religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor.
For a supposedly smart guy, one wonders how did Roberts not foresee the conflict Obamacare would cause with the First Amendment’s right to religious liberty. Strike Two.
Strike three came earlier this week when the Supreme Court issued a temporary stay of a lower court order that blocked a Louisiana law that would have required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, among other protection for the mother.
This may not be the last of it, the stay is temporary and may be prelude to the High Court hearing the case in a broader context, but for now it’s undeniable that Roberts broke from the conservative block to side with the Court’s four liberal justices in blocking Louisiana Act 620.
Louisiana Act 620, first passed in 2014, would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges to treat patients at a hospital within a 30-mile radius.
There are a number of reasons why a state would decide that abortion doctors need to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, including furthering the continuity of care for patients who experience complications and addressing the problem of emergency rooms not having enough OB-GYN specialists on call to deal with complications resulting from an abortion.
There’s also an additional quality control element because the application process includes peer review of the applicant. After all, although abortion advocates claim it’s one of the safest types of medical procedures, complications such as infection, hemorrhage, and uterine perforation, among others, can occur even in early-stage abortions.
This requirement shouldn’t be considered as a hindrance to obtaining an abortion. But common sense protections for the mother.
To that end, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch in his written dissent.
“The law has not yet taken effect, so the case comes to us in the context of a pre-enforcement facial challenge.”
“I would deny the stay without prejudice to the plaintiffs’ ability to bring a later as-applied complaint … at the conclusion of the 45-day regulatory transition period,”
Kavanaugh explained that there could always be a later challenge if that proved to be necessary after the law went into effect. but in the meantime the increased protection of the mother’s health would be guaranteed.
Bottom line, given the opportunity to put the onus on abortion providers to provide adequate protections, and then to prove these protections put an unreasonable restriction on access to abortion, Chief Justice Roberts chose to maintain the status quo.