Judges are split on how seriously to take John Roberts' abortion opinion
April 14, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 21.6%. 2 min read.
Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts walks to the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Almost a year after Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the Supreme Court's liberals to cast the determinative vote to block a Louisiana abortion law, his opinion in the case is causing deep divisions among lower court judges and lawyers.
(CNN)Almost a year after Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the Supreme Court's liberals to cast the determinative vote to block a Louisiana abortion law, his opinion in the case is causing deep divisions among lower court judges and lawyers.
As Republican-led states are moving at unprecedented clip to pass restrictive laws, lower court judges are disagreeing not only over what Roberts said, but on whether they are bound to follow his lead at all.
Roberts provided the liberals with the necessary fifth vote to strike the Louisiana law but he rejected their rationale and approached the case from another direction, which has caused the confusion in lower courts.
Judge Eric Clay from the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals argued in dissent in a Kentucky case regarding a requirement that clinics provide transportation agreements with local ambulance services that because Roberts agreed to uphold the law, the rest of his opinion served simply as "one justice's commentary" and shouldn't serve as guiding precedent.
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, in a case concerning an Indiana law's restriction on minors' access to abortion calling Roberts opinion "dicta in a non-majority opinion. "
Friedman of the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee cited Breyer's plurality opinion in June Medical to weigh the benefits against the burdens in the law before blocking it.
Meanwhile, a panel of judges on the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals wiped away a district court opinion that had struck down four state laws in Arkansas that regulated abortion.
The appeals court said that the district court had acted "without the benefit of Chief Justice Roberts' separate opinion," and asked it to take another look.