Monday, August 10, 2020

8th Circuit Vacates Injunction Against Arkansas Abortion Regulations

 In Hopkins v. Jegley, (8th Cir., Aug. 7, 2020), the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 7-page per curiam opinion vacated an Arkansas federal district court's preliminary injunction against four Arkansas statutory provisions restricting abortions. At issue were 2017 enactments: (1) the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act; (2) the Sex Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act, (3) requirements regarding the disposition of fetal remains, and (4) a requirement to maintain forensic samples from abortions performed on a child. The court remanded the case for consideration in light of Chief Justice Roberts’s separate opinion in June Medical Services v. Russo. The court said in part:

According to Chief Justice Roberts, the appropriate inquiry under Casey is whether the law poses “a substantial obstacle” or “substantial burden, not whether benefits outweighed burdens.”...

Here, the district court—without the benefit of Chief Justice Roberts’s separate opinion in June Medical—applied the Whole Woman’s Health cost-benefit standard to the challenged laws....

In addition, the district court relied on Whole Woman’s Health’s “holding that the ‘statement that legislatures, and not courts, must resolve questions of medical uncertainty is . . . inconsistent with this Court’s case law.’” ... Chief Justice Roberts, however, emphasized the “wide discretion” that courts must afford to legislatures in areas of medical uncertainty.

Courthouse News Service reports on the decision. [Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]