The Association’s upcoming January luncheon will feature Adam Liptak, New York Times reporter who covers the United States Supreme Court. In his Friday article, Liptak noted that the Supreme Court agreed to hear its first major abortion case since 2007, Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, No. 15-274. Many states have enacted restrictions that test the limits of the constitutional right to abortion established in the seminal case of Roe v. Wade in 1973. The Cole case is a challenge to a Texas law that would reduce the number of abortion clinics in the state from 40 to 10. One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for "ambulatory surgical centers," and another part requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Officials in Texas claimed that the provisions are needed to protect women's health, while abortion providers responded that the regulations are "expensive, unnecessary, and intended to put many of them out of business."
Liptak opined that the "future of abortion rights in the United States probably rests almost entirely in [Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's] hands, given the deadlock on the court between conservatives and liberals." Liptak based this opinion on the fact that Justice Kennedy helped write the controlling opinion in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which said states may not place undue burdens on the constitutional right to abortion before fetal viability.
The Cole case, which will likely "produce the term's most consequential and legally significant decision," will probably arrive in June.