The Supreme Court is in the midst of its 2016 decision season, when legal cases that have been winding their way through the system for years have their big day. Since the Republicans in Congress refuse to do their job and confirm a new SCOTUS justice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly, many recent decisions have been deadlocked 4-4, allowing the lower court’s decision to stand.
Today’s decisions were wins for women because both decisions will save lives.
Abortion Clinic Restrictions Shot Down
In a 5-4 decision, Supreme Court justices struct down Texas abortion clinic restrictions that would have closed all of the clinics in Texas, except a handful in the five major urban areas. This was the Texas law that catapulted Texas Legislator Wendy Davis to national prominence when she filibustered it in 2013. That year, Republican-controlled Legislatures across the country debated 300 bills to limit women’s rights and abortion access. Thanks to copycat laws pedaled by anti-abortion groups like the Center for Arizona Policy, today’s SCOTUS decision means similar restrictions in other states (like Arizona) are likely unconstitutional. (Check out the New York Times maps here.)
From the New York Times…
One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital
‘We conclude, ‘ Justice Breyer wrote, ‘that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substatial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution.'”
No Guns for ‘Reckless’ Domestic Abusers
Two men who were convicted of domestic violence in Maine and subsequently denied access to firearms sued to get their guns back. They admitted that they committed domestic violence “recklessly” but not intentionally or knowingly.
So “reckless” domestic violence in the heat of an argument is somehow OK? Not according to the Supreme Court (in a 6-2 decision). From the Huffington Post…
“Reckless conduct was intended to be covered under the Lautenberg Amendment, which was enacted to bar domestic abusers convicted of ‘garden-variety assault or battery misdemeanors’ from owning guns, she [Justice Kagan] added.
“The case was followed closely by anti-gun violence organizations, which warned that it could put women’s lives at stake.”
Domestic violence and guns are known to be a deadly combination. Experts say that if an abuser has access to a gun, victims are five times more likely to be killed. A study published earlier this year found that simply living in a state with a high rate of gun ownership increases a woman’s chance of being fatally shot in a domestic violence situation.
Good job, SCOTUS. Can you strike down Citizens United next?