Friday, May 25, 2012

Abortion Ultrasound Cases (Updates and Correction)

The last Circuit Split Watch article addressed pre-abortion ultrasound laws in three states and a developing circuit split. Updates and a correction:

The cases challenging the North Carolina and Oklahoma laws are still pending. As noted in the article, former acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger is now counsel in the North Carolina case, signaling its possible Supreme Court track.

The Texas case is essentially over, though, and the ultrasound law there has gone into effect. The only ongoing dispute is about attorneys' fees.

Following the Fifth Circuit ruling discussed in the article, which vacated a preliminary injunction against the Texas law, and later, the denial of rehearing en banc, the plaintiffs did not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Their window to appeal closed earlier than reported in the original article, due to further action in the district court; see below. In any case, plaintiffs did not ask the Supreme Court to step in.)

On remand from the Fifth Circuit, the district court judge entered summary judgment for the state defendants. However, he did so unconvinced, explaining that "the legal principles articulated by the [Fifth Circuit] left little room for meaningful discussion." The plaintiffs did not appeal that summary judgment ruling to the Fifth Circuit.

The Center for Reproductive Rights represents plaintiffs in the Texas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma cases. One can only assume that it saw the North Carolina and Oklahoma cases as better vehicles.

Although the Texas case is over, it remains significantone side of a developing circuit split that could very well end up at the Supreme Court.