Supreme Court Declines Cases That Would Allow States to Block Planned Parenthood From Medicaid Funding
Justice Clarence Thomas not thrilled: “Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty.”
The Supreme Court delivered a blow to the pro-life movement when it decided not to hear cases from Louisiana and Kansas that would allow the states to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding. From The Washington Examiner:
Planned Parenthood will continue to receive Medicaid funding in Louisiana and Kansas after the Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear cases in which the states sought to stop the organization from participating in the program.
The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case leaves intact lower court decisions that allowed Planned Parenthood to continue to receive Medicaid funding.
The issue at question was whether individuals on Medicaid who received medical care from places such as Planned Parenthood have the right to challenge a state’s decision to cut off funding from the organization.
Four Supreme Court justices need to agree in order for the court to accept the case. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch wanted to take up the case. This means that new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the liberals along with Chief Justice John Roberts.
While the cases did not specifically mention abortion, the dissent from Thomas suggested that is the reason why the court did not want to get involved. Clarence wrote:
So what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named “Planned Parenthood.” That makes the Court’s decision particularly troubling, as the question presented has nothing to do with abortion. It is true that these particular cases arose after several States alleged that Planned Parenthood affiliates had, among other things, engaged in “the illegal sale of fetal organs” and “fraudulent billing practices,” and thus removed Planned Parenthood as a state Medicaid provider. Andersen, 882 F. 3d, at 1239, n. 2 (Bacharach, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). But these cases are not about abortion rights. They are about pri- vate rights of action under the Medicaid Act. Resolving the question presented here would not even affect Planned Parenthood’s ability to challenge the States’ decisions; it concerns only the rights of individual Medicaid patients to bring their own suits.
Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty. If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background. The Framers gave us lifetime tenure to promote “that independent spirit in the judges which must be essential to the faithful perfor- mance” of the courts’ role as “bulwarks of a limited Consti- tution,” unaffected by fleeting “mischiefs.” The Federalist No. 78, pp. 469–470 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961) (A. Hamilton). We are not “to consult popularity,” but instead to rely on “nothing . . . but the Constitution and the laws.” Id., at 471.
We are responsible for the confusion among the lower courts, and it is our job to fix it. I respectfully dissent from the Court’s decision to deny certiorari.
The Washington Post pointed out that since “[F]ive regional courts of appeal have said they do, while one has said they do not,” the Supreme Court usually picks up a case in that split. Thomas reminded the other justices that they should have done this:
“It is true that these particular cases arose after several states alleged that Planned Parenthood affiliates had, among other things, engaged in ‘the illegal sale of fetal organs’ and ‘fraudulent billing practices,’ and thus removed Planned Parenthood as a state Medicaid provider,” Thomas wrote.
“But these cases are not about abortion rights. They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act. Resolving the question presented here would not even affect Planned Parenthood’s ability to challenge the states’ decisions.”
Honestly, I am not shocked that the Supreme Court declined to hear these cases after the circus that erupted around Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) made public statements that she wants justices to protect abortion and uphold Roe vs. Wade in every possible way.
There’s a chance President Donald Trump will nominate another Supreme Court justice during his term. So it makes sense to not want to ruffle any feathers, especially so soon after the Kavanaugh fiasco.
It goes to show that even the neutral Supreme Court isn’t immuned from politics.DONATE
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