SCOTUS takes up abortion pill case, Ramaswamy hopes court will put FDA bureaucracy 'back in its place'

 December 14, 2023

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it would take up this term a pair of cases that challenge a lower court's ruling to restrict access to the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said Wednesday that he hoped the high court would use the opportunity to rein in the administrative state, specifically the Food and Drug Administration, and the bureaucrats who habitually overstep their regulatory bounds, according to The Hill.

Regardless of how the Supreme Court ultimately rules on the matter, with an opinion most likely in June or July, the issue will probably be a substantial factor in motivating voters to the polls in the 2024 election.

SCOTUS "should put the FDA back in its place"

Business entrepreneur Ramaswamy took part Wednesday evening in a CNN town hall-style event in Iowa and was asked at one point about the Supreme Court's decision earlier that day to grant a review of an appellate court's ruling earlier this year in a challenge against the FDA's initial approval and subsequent expansion of access to the mifepristone abortion drug.

"It’s my opinion," Ramaswamy said, "that the FDA exceeded its statutory authority in using an emergency approval to approve something that doesn’t fit Congress’s criteria for what actually counts as an emergency approval."

He went on to say that the alleged overreach of FDA bureaucrats was "symptomatic of what’s going on in the administrative state," and observed, "The people who we elect to run the government, they’re not even the ones who run the government right now. It’s the bureaucrats in those three-letter agencies that are pulling the strings today."

According to The Hill, Ramaswamy said that, if elected, he would "shut down that fourth branch of government" and take action to revoke all "unconstitutional" federal regulations not specifically authorized by Congress.

Asked if he believed that mifepristone should be banned by the Supreme Court, the candidate replied, "I believe that the Supreme Court should put the FDA back in its place," though he acknowledged that doing so would likely "result in mifepristone being taken off the market until it goes through the process that’s ordained for every drug that doesn’t go through emergency approval."

SCOTUS to review ruling on later expansion of access; won't address initial FDA approval

Ramaswamy and other pro-life Americans who'd like to see mifepristone banned, or at least pulled from the market until it clears the normal FDA approval process, will not see that desire come to fruition -- at least not during this term with these cases, according to SCOTUSblog.

That is because the Supreme Court took up and consolidated two cases challenging an appeals court ruling that limited access to the abortion drug but declined to take up a related case that challenged the FDA's initial approval of mifepristone in 2000.

Instead, the cases of Danco Laboratories v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, featuring the company that manufactures the abortion drug and the agency that approved it versus pro-life doctors and activists, respectively, are focused on the questions of standing and FDA actions in 2016 and 2021 to vastly expand access to the drug.

Decision likely to come near end of term next summer

SCOTUSblog reported that a federal judge in Texas had sided with the alliance of pro-life doctors and suspended the FDA's initial approval of mifepristone in 2000 and subsequent expansion of access, which has led to the drug, which is part of a two-drug protocol, to account for more than half of all abortions in the country.

An appeals court panel later overturned the district court's suspension of the initial approval but upheld the suspension of the later access expansions, though that decision was essentially stayed by the Supreme Court earlier this year, such that the status quo of wide availability in place before the lawsuits were reinstated.

No dates have been set yet for the two cases consolidated into one in terms of briefs and arguments, but SCOTUSblog predicted that the cases would be heard early next year and, given the hot-button nature of the issue, will probably be among the final opinions released at the end of the term in late June or early July.

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