The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected appeals by Louisiana and Kansas seeking to end their public funding to women’s healthcare and abortion provider Planned Parenthood through the Medicaid program, with President Donald Trump’s appointee Brett Kavanaugh among the justices who rebuffed the states.
The justices left intact lower court rulings that prevented the two states from stripping government healthcare funding from local Planned Parenthood affiliates. The case was one of a number of disputes working their way up to the Supreme Court over the legality of state-imposed restrictions involving abortion.
Three conservative justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, dissented from the decision by the nine-member conservative-majority court, saying it should have heard the appeals by the states.
At least four justices must vote to grant review for the court to hear an appeal. Along with the four liberal justices, Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts – the court’s two other conservative justices – opposed taking up the matter.
Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in Louisiana do not perform abortions, but some in Kansas do. Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for low-income Americans, pays for abortions only in limited circumstances, such as when a woman’s life is in danger.
It marked the first-known vote by Kavanaugh in a case since he joined the court in October after a fierce confirmation fight in the Senate. Some Kavanaugh opponents had feared he would back legal efforts to overturn or further restrict the legal right to abortion.
Thomas suggested that the justices who rejected the appeals had put politics over the law.
“So what explains the court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood,’” Thomas wrote in dissent.
“Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty,” Thomas added.
Full story at Reuters.