Chief Justice John Roberts was the decisive swing vote in a ruling which struck down Abortion restrictions in Louisiana, Thursday, marking a reversal in his jurisprudence.
The Bush-appointee ruled in favor of a nearly-identical law in the past, fueling speculation that Roberts is shifting leftward.
Fox News reports:
The ruling comes as Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, has increasingly and deliberately sought to present the federal judiciary as nonpartisan, amid a flurry of attacks from progressive groups arguing that the Supreme Court’s new conservative majority imperils the country. Last year, in a highly unusual statement, Roberts rebuked President Trump for criticizing partisanship in the federal judiciary.
The Louisiana law is virtually identical to a Texas measure the justices struck down three years ago by a 5-3 vote, shortly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Roberts dissented in that case, when he was not the deciding vote, and sided with the conservative minority that wanted to uphold the anti-abortion law — making his decision on Thursday a significant reversal.
The justices decided in a 5-4 vote on Thursday, with Roberts as the swing vote, that they will not allow Louisiana to put into effect a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The Supreme Court is set to issue a final ruling on the merits of the case later, and Thursday’s majority ruling did not spell out a rationale.
In the 2016 Texas case, the Supreme Court held that the admitting-privileges requirement “provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”