Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion restrictions

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Louisiana abortion law, handing a win to abortion rights advocates who feared the conservative court would break with past rulings to rein in protections that emerged from the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade.

The justices voted 5-4 to invalidate Louisiana’s admitting-privilege law in the first major abortion ruling of the Trump era, which came after the court struck down a nearly identical Texas restriction four years ago.

Why it matters: The plaintiffs in the case argued the requirements would not improve a woman’s health or safety and would result in the closure of nearly every abortion clinic in Louisiana. The law required physicians who perform abortions to hold “active admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of their facility.

Narrow concurrence: Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in ruling against Louisiana. In a concurring opinion, Roberts said his vote was guided by deference to prior rulings, particularly the court’s 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down a nearly identical Texas law. Roberts dissented in that case, which teed up his vote in the Louisiana case as a crucial assessment of his image as an “institutionalist” justice dedicated to honoring prior Supreme Court opinions, especially recent ones.

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