The U.S. Supreme Court this week weighed in on a state-level disagreement surrounding a Kentucky abortion ban.
State Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, asked the high court to allow him to defend the law without the backing of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, and his request was approved in a decision handed down on Tuesday.
“Ensure that its laws are fully defended”
This landmark case could shape how abortion-related disputes are litigated in the future.
As for the statewide abortion ban, it was enacted in 2018 before a string of lower court rulings struck it down. When Cameron sought to appeal the case further, his requests were initially shot down.
He has since argued that he has “not only the power but also the duty” to defend all of the state’s laws, asserting that his responsibility does not depend on the governor’s approval.
Cameron argued that the case has evolved into a deeper argument about the state’s “authority to ensure that its laws are fully defended” through the judicial branch. At least for now, the Supreme Court appears to be sympathetic to that position.
Even liberal Justice Stephen Breyer asked the attorney for one abortion provider why the conservative attorney general should be prevented from making his case in court.
“We don’t want to be dragged into it”
“Now, he may lose, and he may lose for the reasons that you say,” Breyer acknowledged. “But I don’t see why he can’t, if Kentucky allows him to make the argument, why can’t he make the argument?”
Of course, others on the court’s progressive wing were not so sympathetic to Cameron’s cause.
“We don’t really care what has happened in the political arena,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “We don’t want to be dragged into it.”
This week’s ruling comes on the heels of a prior Supreme Court decision that allowed a restrictive abortion law in Texas to remain in place, angering many on the left and prompting a renewed call to protect abortion rights at the federal level.
Such criticism is an extension of the broader dissatisfaction progressives felt after former President Donald Trump shifted the Supreme Court further to the right with three nominees appointed to the bench during his term in office.