News and Commentary

SCOTUS Gave Planned Parenthood A Victory Today Thanks To Justices Roberts & Kavanaugh

Planned Parenthood got another victory at the Supreme Court today thanks to the fecklessness of Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh, who both declined to hear a case on whether states can defund abortion businesses under the Medicaid Act.

According to CNN, the Roberts-led court “left in place two lower court opinions that said that states violate federal law when they terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood affiliates who offer preventive care for low-income women.”

It requires four justices to hear a case before the court; only three agreed it should be contested – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Both Kavanaugh and Roberts sided with the court’s liberals.

In a fierce dissent, Justice Thomas argued that that the Supreme Court declined to do its job by rejecting the case.

“What explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here?” Thomas wrote. “I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named Planned Parenthood.”

Thomas further argued that the case in question had nothing to do with abortion rights and everything to do with private rights under the Medicaid Act.

“But these cases are not about abortion rights,” he said. “They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act. Resolving the question presented here would not even affect Planned Parenthood’s ability to challenge the states’ decisions; it concerns only the rights of individual Medicaid patients to bring their own suits.”

CNN profiled this particular case’s history from a lower court ruling to the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday:

Kansas — one of the states that had asked the Supreme Court to step in — wanted the justices to review a lower court opinion that held that while states have “broad authority” to ensure that Medicaid health care providers are qualified to provide medical services, “the power has limits.”

“States may not terminate providers from their Medicaid program for any reason they see fit, especially when that reason is unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the health care it provides” a panel of judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals held last February.

Kansas and Louisiana moved to terminate Medicaid contracts with the affiliates after a group opposing abortion published edited videos in 2014 they said depicted officials Planned Parenthood Federation of America discussing fetal tissue and appearing to talk about the price of such tissue.

While CNN’s description of the videos as “edited” is clearly intended to portray them as deceptively edited, the group has released unedited raw footage of some of the famous undercover videos. Though Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh did give Planned Parenthood a victory today, the decision does not necessarily mean they do not have “serious objections” to the case, according to CNN Supreme Court analyst Steve Vladeck. Likely, the two justices declined the case to avoid any high-profile decisions in the first year of Kavanaugh’s tenure on the court to maintain its appearance of impartiality following his contentious nomination process.

Recently, Chief Justice Roberts signaled his desire to keep the Supreme Court out of controversial territory for the sake of appearances when he publicly rebuked President Trump for calling out judicial activism from the Left.

The pro-life organization Americans United For Life expressed disappointment with Monday’s ruling.

“AUL is disappointed that the Court declined to hear argument in these cases, and we join the dissent in calling on the Court to ‘do its duty,’” said AUL’s President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster. “But the good news is that there are other similar cases pending in lower courts, which may give the Supreme Court another opportunity to decide this important issue. In the meantime, AUL will continue to fight to protect states from being forced to use their limited public funds to subsidize abortion businesses.”