The vote was not a ruling on the legal merits of the restriction, but the decision to keep the law on hold signals that a majority of the justices have doubts about its constitutionality. Passed by the state legislature in 2014, the measure requires any doctor offering abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Plaintiffs argued that it was identical to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016, in which the court said Texas imposed an obstacle on women seeking access to abortion services without providing them any medical benefits. Plaintiffs said Louisiana's law would leave only one doctor at a single clinic in New Orleans to perform the procedure.
In dissenting, Justice Antonin Scalia-- joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas--said the majority erred in reading the law's language describing an "Exchange established by the State" to mean "Exchanges established by the State or the Federal Government."
"That is of course quite absurd, and the Court's 21 pages of explanation make it no less so," Scalia wrote in his own 21-page opinion. "Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is 'established by the State,'" he said. "It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words 'established by the State.' It is hard to come up with a reason to include the words 'by the State' other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges."
Situation: Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer were married in Toronto, Canada in 2007. Their marriage was recognized by New York state, where they resided. Upon Spyer's death in 2009, Windsor was forced to pay $363,000 in federal taxes, because their marriage was not recognized by federal law.
OnTheIssues explanation: This ruling led to a series of state legalization of same-sex marriage, as well as federal equality of same-sex rights (but not federal equality of marriage).
Opinions:Majority: Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, & Kagan; dissent: Roberts, Alito, Thomas & Scalia, on mixed grounds of federalism & traditionalism.
OnTheIssues explanation: This ruling led to a spate of "Voter ID" laws, which proponents claim is needed to protect the integrity of the vote, and which opponents say discriminates against youth & minority voters.
Opinions:Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, & Alito; concurrence: Thomas; dissent: Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, & Kagan.
Opinions: Roberts wrote majority opinion; Ginsburg, Sotomayor; Breyer, and Kagan concurred in part (noting that the Commerce Clause alone justifies ObamaCare's mandate); Scalia, Kennedy & Alito dissented (on grounds that the individual mandate was unconstitutional); Thomas separately dissented (on grounds that the Commerce Clause is interpreted too broadly).
OnTheIssues explanation: Roberts, Scalia & Alito concurred; Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, & Sotomayor partly dissented (on grounds that electioneering spending is not protected free speech); Thomas partly dissented (on grounds that anonymous spending is protected free speech).
The above quotations are from Supreme Court decisions 2010-2019.
Click here for other excerpts from Supreme Court decisions 2010-2019.
Click here for other excerpts by Samuel Alito.
Click here for a profile of Samuel Alito.
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