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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ind. Decisions - SCOTUS denies cert to Wisconsin appeal of 7th Circuit ruling striking Wis. abortion restrictions

From the end of an April 17th Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story, headed "Major Wisconsin cases could hang in balance at short-handed Supreme Court,"reported by Patrick Marley:

Abortion. Wisconsin Republicans approved a law in 2013 requiring doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where they perform the procedure.

U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison ruled the law violated the right to abortion. In a 2-1 ruling, a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel agreed with that finding.

Attorney General Brad Schimel last month asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

The nation's high court showed divisions in March when it heard arguments over a Texas law that requires admitting privileges and places other restrictions on abortion that critics say would force the closure of three-quarters of Texas' abortion clinics.

If the court split 4-4 on the Texas case, it would leave in place a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision largely upholding those abortion restrictions. But a similar split in the Wisconsin case would cause the opposite result because of the 7th Circuit's ruling.

It is also possible the U.S. Supreme Court would send the Texas case back to lower courts for further proceedings.

ILB: As it turns out, the SCOTUS did neither of those things, but instead yesterday struck the Texas provisions. As a result, as reported today by Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel:
Handing down its second major abortion action in as many days, the U.S. Supreme Court refused Tuesday to rescue a Wisconsin law restricting abortion clinics and doctors in the state, leaving in place lower court rulings that had struck it down.

Tuesday's simple order follows a lengthy decision striking Monday down similar restrictions on abortion providers in Texas that was considered the high court's most significant ruling on the procedure in a generation.

The court, acting on the last day of a term in which it became short-handed after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, ruled 5-3 that the Texas law's restrictions go beyond the type permitted under the court's 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Wisconsin passed similar though less extensive limits on abortion in 2013 only to see them struck down by a trial court in Madison and by the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Justice Stephen Breyer directly cited the lawsuit over Wisconsin's law and those in other states in his majority opinion in the Texas decision Monday. * * *

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias said late Monday that it would have been nearly impossible for Wisconsin to win its appeal of 7th Circuit decision in light of Monday's decision. For that to happen, two Supreme Court had justices would have to change the positions taken in the Texas case — an unlikely scenario.

"It seems like there is no clear or good path. I expect SCOTUS will just 'dismiss' in light of today's opinion," Tobias said, correctly predicting Tuesday's outcome.

And SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston writes this morning, in a post headed "Court to hear major new controversies — next Term":
Following Monday’s ruling striking down a Texas law requiring that doctors who perform abortions must obtain admitting privileges at a hospital near their clinics as part of its decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Justices simply denied review on Tuesday of two other cases by states seeking to defend similar laws: a Mississippi case, Currier v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and a Wisconsin case, Schimel v. Planned Parenthood.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 28, 2016 02:15 PM
Posted to Courts in general | Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions