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In 3-3 Vote, Iowa Supreme Court Won’t Reinstate Strict Abortion Law

In 3-3 Vote, Iowa Supreme Court Won’t Reinstate Strict Abortion Law

“In our view, it is legislating from the bench to take a statute that was moribund when it was enacted and has been enjoined for four years and then to put it into effect.”

Republican Iowa gov. Kim Reynolds asked the state’s supreme court to reinstate a law that would ban abortion after one could determine a heartbeat in the baby, which is roughly six weeks.

The court voted 3-3 to uphold a 2019 district court ruling that blocked the law. From The Des Moines Register:

In opinions released Friday, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen and Justices Edward Mansfield and Thomas Waterman favored affirming a district court’s order blocking the law; Justices Christopher McDonald, Matthew McDermott and David May favored reversing the district court.

The 3-3 split — Justice Dana Oxley was recused from the case — means the district court’s order is affirmed and that the law will remain permanently blocked.

Waterman, in the opinion joined by Christensen and Mansfield, wrote that it would be “legislating from the bench” to allow the law to go into effect.

Waterman wrote:

The State appealed, and now asks our court to do something that has never happened in Iowa history: to simultaneously bypass the legislature and change the law, to adopt rational basis review, and then to dissolve an injunction to put a statute into effect for the first time in the same case in which that very enactment was declared unconstitutional years earlier. In our view, it is legislating from the bench to take a statute that was moribund when it was enacted and has been enjoined for four years and then to put it into effect.

It’s a 3-3 tie because Justice Dana Oxley recused herself from the case “because her former law firm represented an abortion clinic that was a plaintiff in the original case.”

It’s weird because the same court ruled the state’s constitution does not guarantee a fundamental right to an abortion.

The legislature passed the heartbeat bill in 2018 when Roe v. Wade still existed. Reynold signed it. Pro-abortionists took it to court.

Abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy is still legal in Iowa. The women have to wait 24 hours before going through with the procedure.


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It’s good luck for Republicans, who badly misread read the room on abortion and otherwise would fall in elections.

    jhkrischel in reply to rhhardin. | June 16, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Even our most “liberal” european friends find the idea of abortion for any reason at all times barbaric.

    While the MSM has managed to spin it to their advantage so far, I think the fact that more 1000x more children are killed by abortion than by firearms is going to win out in the end. The end of Roe v. Wade was a moral good, even if it may be considered a temporary electoral disadvantage.

    chrisboltssr in reply to rhhardin. | June 16, 2023 at 2:36 pm

    No, this isn’t good luck and no one badly misread. I grow tired of evil people and cowards like you who think the best position on baby murder is to give in to the murderers.

    geronl in reply to rhhardin. | June 16, 2023 at 2:45 pm

    Republicans aren’t the ones misreading anything, they understand the Constitution pretty well

    gonzotx in reply to rhhardin. | June 17, 2023 at 5:18 pm

    It’s murder, no way around it it’s life

    The_Mew_Cat in reply to rhhardin. | June 20, 2023 at 2:17 pm

    That depends on whether the Legislature does something stupid like enact a new abortion ban. If they do that they will get creamed in 2024.

Lucifer Morningstar | June 16, 2023 at 1:23 pm

So then why doesn’t the Iowa state legislature just pass legislation to re-enact the law and bypass the IA Supreme Court altogether. Seems to me that would be easier than trying to get the liberal IA Supreme Court to agree to remove the injunction on the original law.. Especially now that Roe has been overturned on a national level.

    henrybowman in reply to Lucifer Morningstar. | June 16, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    I guess that would depend on why the original court blocked the law. If it was account of unconstitutionality, passing it again won’t go anywhere.

      chrisboltssr in reply to henrybowman. | June 16, 2023 at 2:37 pm

      Then it’s time for states and legislatures to start challenging the notion set forth in Marbury vs. Madison on the concept of judicial review.

      Lucifer Morningstar in reply to henrybowman. | June 17, 2023 at 12:22 pm

      They are apparently claiming in their published opinion(s) that even though they have previously ruled there is no constitutional right to an abortion in the IA Constitution they left the “Undue Burden Test” in place and under that doctrine the abortion law in question is still unconstitutional.

      But it’s all a moot point in any case. Under Iowa law if the Supreme Court is tied (3-3) then state law requires that the decision of the lower court stands and more importantly nothing the IA Supreme Court publishes on the matter has the force of law (it’s considered an “advisory opinion” only) and does not have any precedential value ,(Iowa Code § 602.4107)

      In other words, anything the IA Supreme Court states in their published opinion(s) does not make a difference. The decision was simply one that they had to administratively make under Iowa law when a tie occurs.

    The_Mew_Cat in reply to Lucifer Morningstar. | June 20, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    Maybe they lack the votes.

chrisboltssr | June 16, 2023 at 2:38 pm

The Iowa legislature should keep pushing this until it is shoved down the throats of the Supreme Court in all states and at the federal level that there is no constitutional right to murder in any instance.

Off topic, but anyone following Weasel Zippers see their landing page today?

“Site Suspended” — have to wonder if this was the censors or not. I know Google has been threatening ads if you don’t censor comments. Not sure if this was something else or exactly that.

The controlled opposition always loses on purpose in the end

The SCOTUS has already ruled that states get to make abortion law.

    Which probably should have mooted the case and affirmed the law if the enjoinment relied on Roe v. Wade.

    And the guy thinks he’s NOT “legislating from the bench”….

RepublicanRJL | June 16, 2023 at 6:25 pm

How can any court uphold the right to kill an unborn child?

    By phrasing it as “the right of a woman birthing person to choose to end her their pregnancy”.

    No, that doesn’t make it moral or ethical, but it does make it politically correct.

Some judges can’t resist the temptation to be a super-legislator when presented with the opportunity. Looks like Iowa S.Ct has some too.

Waterman appears to be saying, if he is intellectually consistent, that anything taking a long time to get through appeals should not win that appeal. That is an astonishing thing to say.

Question: If the law had been enjoined last year — instead of four years ago — would it still be “legislating from the bench” to overturn the lower courts’ decision and let it stand?

And a follow-up: How long is long enough to let it stay enjoined? Conversely, how short is too short to let the fact it’s been enjoined be a deciding factor?

    henrybowman in reply to Archer. | June 17, 2023 at 12:29 am

    Government is too full of cases of “it’s right because we’ve done it that way a long time.”
    Even Bruen, which introduced the “in common use” test for legitimizing firearms, fails because there are many firearms that MIGHT or even WOULD be in common use today had the federal government not banned them 90 years ago.

A twilight faith, an ethical religion, a liberal ideology, a trans/humane outlook.

That said, keep women affordable, available, and taxable, and the “burden” h/t Obama of evidence sequestered in sanctuary States.