Supreme Court rejects state attempts to defund Planned Parenthood; Kavanaugh part of majority

Planned Parenthood went back to the district court and asked for a temporary restraining order to block the law late Tuesday night, May 29, 2018.
Planned Parenthood went back to the district court and asked for a temporary restraining order to block the law late Tuesday night, May 29, 2018. | Pixabay/Free-Photos

The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed lower court rulings stopping Louisiana and Kansas from defunding Planned Parenthood to stand, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining the majority.

In an order released Monday, the high court declined to hear an appeal in the cases of Andersen v. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Gee v. Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh were part of the six-judge majority. Earlier this year, Kavanaugh weathered a heated confirmation process in which many progressive activists claimed that if he joined the Supreme Court, he would represent a militantly anti-abortion presence.

Justice Clarence Thomas authored a dissent to the decision to not hear either appeal, being joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

Justice Thomas argued that the Supreme Court should have heard the appeals since they deal with an “important and recurring” question of “whether Medicaid recipients have a private right of action to challenge a State’s determination of ‘qualified’ Medicaid providers.”

“Five Circuits have held that Medicaid recipients have such a right, and one Circuit has held that they do not. The last three Circuits to consider the question have themselves been divided,” wrote Justice Thomas. “Because of this Court’s inaction, patients in different States—even patients with the same providers—have different rights to challenge their State’s provider decisions.”

Thomas also speculated in his dissent that the majority of the high court might have refused to take the cases because they had to do with Planned Parenthood.

“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,’” continued Thomas, adding that he considered this trouble because the question surrounding the cases technically “has nothing to do with abortion.”

“It is true that these particular cases arose after several States alleged that Planned Parenthood affiliates had, among other things, engaged in ‘the illegal sale of fetal organs’ and ‘fraudulent billing practices’ … But these cases are not about abortion rights. They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act.”

Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast posted a celebratory statement on Monday on their Twitter account regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the appeals.

“Today's #SCOTUS ruling means that Louisianans can continue to access lifesaving health care at Planned Parenthood, which they have relied on for more than thirty years,” tweeted the Planned Parenthood affiliate

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life SBA List, expressed disappointment, noting that “the pro-life citizens of states like Kansas and Louisiana, through their elected representatives, have clearly expressed their will: they do not want Medicaid tax dollars used to prop up abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood."

"We support their right to redirect taxpayer funds away from entities that destroy innocent lives and instead fund comprehensive community health care alternatives that outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities at least 20 to one nationwide," she added.

“The pro-life grassroots will not stop fighting until every single tax dollar is untangled from the abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood. We urge the Trump Administration to quickly finalize the Protect Life Rule, which would prevent taxpayer funding of the abortion industry under Title X, Planned Parenthood’s second biggest stream of taxpayer revenue after Medicaid.”

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