Kavanaugh is team player with Supremes on Planned Parenthood cases; Thomas dissents

by WorldTribune Staff, December 10, 2018

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined with the court’s liberals on Dec. 10 in a decision to deny the review of three cases related to Republican efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood at the state level.

Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the court’s four liberals in denying the review. Four votes are needed for the Supreme Court to take up a case.

Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. / Getty Images

“This move could indicate that Roberts and Kavanaugh are loath to take take up an abortion-related question in the aftermath of Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation,” The Daily Caller noted. “The Court’s new junior justice has generally kept a low profile since taking the bench in October.”

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

In his dissent, Thomas wrote: “So what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood.’ ”

Thomas continued: “Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty. If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background.”

The cases arose when Republican state leaders in Louisiana and Kansas stripped Planned Parenthood of state Medicaid funds after a pro-life advocacy group presented evidence that the abortion-provider was harvesting and selling fetal materials, which Planned Parenthood denied.

Planned Parenthood and several unnamed female patients challenged the states’ move in federal court. The legal question was whether Medicaid recipients can challenge the disqualification of a provider under the Medicaid law. As such, it did not touch on abortion directly.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Planned Parenthood on that question in June 2017, prompting an appeal to the Supreme Court. That ruling is left in place now that the justices have refused to take the case.

“We are disappointed the Supreme Court declined to hear this case,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. “The pro-life citizens of states like Kansas and Louisiana, through their elected representatives, have clearly expressed their will: they do not want Medicaid tax dollars used to prop up abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood.”

The Trump administration is currently formulating a new federal regulation called the Protect Life Rule which would forbid public funding of Planned Parenthood under Title X.

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