Chief Justice John Roberts has once again sided with Supreme Court liberals, ruling Monday that a Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals is an unconstitutional bid to restrict abortion rights. GOP manipulation of the high court has utterly failed to deliver results on President Donald Trump's signature campaign promise to his religious-conservative base.
Louisiana, like Missouri, has tried to restrict abortion rights by imposing onerous rules on doctors and clinics in a blatant attempt to make them give up and shut their doors. Missouri's effort in that regard suffered a big setback after a judge blocked Republican Gov. Mike Parson's administration from using overly rigorous health inspections to deny an operating permit to a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. It was clear from the start that, despite administration assertions that it was trying to protect women's health, the real motivation was to force the clinic's closure.
Missouri, like Louisiana and other GOP-dominated states, has tried to pile on expensive requirements, such as extra-wide hallways and doorways, in an additional effort to revoke clinic permits. At issue before the Roberts court was a separate rule, also imposed in Missouri, requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In Louisiana's case, the hospital had to be within 30 miles of the clinic. The rule forced all but one clinic in Louisiana to shut their doors. Missouri's requirement was even stricter — thus, less constitutionally sustainable.
Religious conservatives have worked methodically for years to attain supermajorities in Republican states, then rewrite laws to skirt the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 ruling giving women a constitutional right to abortion access. Despite all his un-Christian foibles, they backed Trump based on his promises to yield victory on abortion.
Although Trump's two conservative nominees did vote against Monday's decision, Roberts sided with liberals to swing the decision the other way. He cited court precedent, including an important 2016 ruling regarding onerous clinic restrictions in Texas, as the reason he sided with liberal justices. But Roberts also appears increasingly disinclined to deliver anything resembling a victory to Trump. Earlier this month, Roberts cast the deciding vote blocking Trump from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for young undocumented immigrants.
For years, Trump has engaged in behavior that religious conservatives found appalling — blatantly lying, cursing, engaging in marital infidelity, paying off a porn star and bragging about sexually abusing women, to name a few. Yet he retained their support by remaining steadfast on abortion. It should now be clear that Trump's considerable cons outweigh what religious conservatives rationalize as his pros, which were always dubious.
Neither he nor GOP leaders like Parson can deliver because the nation's highest court has ruled, repeatedly, that a woman's right to dominion over her own body is constitutionally sacrosanct, as it should be.
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