The Supreme Court will hear arguments in March for the first abortion case the court has taken up since Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed, shifting the court to a 5-4 conservative majority. The case, June Medical Services v Gee, centers on a Louisiana hospital admitting privileges law identical to a Texas statute the court struck down in 2016. If the Supreme Court lets the Louisiana law go into effect, it would not only shut down multiple clinics in the state but could also call into question past abortion precedent and make it nearly impossible to fight abortion bans in court, thanks to a "wrecking ball" provision in the state's appeal. Anti-abortion advocates are psyched.
The case is, in short, a big fucking deal.
On Monday, nearly 200 organizations submitted what are known as amicus briefs opposing the Louisiana law. Major medical groups, constitutional law scholars, and civil rights organizations all filed these “friend of the court” briefs. Even the non-partisan American Bar Association submitted one, marking the first time the ABA has ever filed a brief in an abortion case, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, lead counsel for the plaintiffs.
Democratic members of Congress also submitted a brief opposing the law, signed by 36 Senators and 161 House members—including nearly every member of Congress currently or formerly running for president. Senators Cory Booker, Michael Bennet (yes, he's still running), Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren all joined the brief. Among candidates who've dropped out: Senators Kamala Harris (who suspended her campaign on Tuesday) and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representatives Tim Ryan and Eric Swallwell joined the brief, while Representative Seth Moulton did not.
One 2020 candidate still in the race was notably absent from that list: Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.
In the October debate, Gabbard said she thinks abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare"—a decades-old talking point that advocates say is stigmatizing to people who have abortions, suggesting the procedure is always unfortunate. In that debate, Gabbard also said while she supports codifying Roe v Wade, she would want to ensure that "during the third trimester, abortion is not an option unless the life or severe health consequences of a woman are at risk.” That stance does nothing for people who seek abortions later in pregnancy because of an unviable fetus or because of barriers to abortion access.
Neither Gabbard's campaign or House office responded to VICE's request for comment on the Congressional amicus brief as of press time.
Gabbard has not yet commented on the Supreme Court brief on social media, but it's not because she's been offline. On December 1 she posted a video to Twitter announcing that her campaign hit the threshold of 200,000 individual donors, one of the requirements for making the December 19 debate. Gabbard is now one qualifying poll away from making the debate.
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