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As has been reported by The National Law Journal, ABC News, Bloomberg, HuffPost and elsewhere, Paul, Weiss has submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 368 lawyers and law students who have exercised their constitutional right to abortion. Paul, Weiss filed a similar brief three years ago, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, on behalf of 113 women in the legal profession.
Paul, Weiss’s brief is in support of June Medical Services, an abortion provider challenging a Louisiana law identical to the Texas law struck down in Whole Woman’s Health—that would require all doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a state-authorized hospital within 30 miles of the clinic (an impossibility where no local hospitals will give credentials to a doctor who performs abortions). In its own petition, Louisiana is asking the Court to depart from the longstanding precedent and practice that enables abortion providers to sue on their patients’ behalf. As the amicus brief explains, this would deter challenges to unconstitutional laws because it “would require that a patient-plaintiff initiate legal proceedings—with all that entails, including finding and retaining a lawyer and potentially engaging in invasive civil discovery—nearly contemporaneously with making the decision to terminate, and simultaneously with trying to access medical care.”
Amici included equity partners of the largest U.S. law firms, counsel to Fortune 100 companies, appointed and career officials in state government, employees of all three branches of the federal government, retired judges, prosecutors and public defenders, and public interest advocates. Multiple amici have argued cases before, or clerked on, the Supreme Court. All amici felt “compelled to come forward with their names and stories on behalf of those who still cannot.”
Litigation associate Alexia Korberg told ABC News that the brief was intended to show the justices that access to abortion is not an “abstract” concept. The amici’s stories illustrate the profound affect that abortion access, and the ability of women to control their reproductive lives, has had on individuals and even the legal profession itself. As one woman wrote: “A doctor’s appointment years ago is not the most important part of who I am, but it has allowed my life to be everything that it is today.”
Lead signatories included litigation partner Claudia Hammerman, Michele Coleman Mays, Vice President and General Counsel of The New York Public Library, and Charanya Krishnaswami, Americas Advocacy Director for Amnesty International USA.
Claudia led the Paul, Weiss team, which included litigation partner Audra Soloway, litigation associates Alexia Korberg, Tanya Manno, Melina Meneguin Layerenza, Daniela Lorenzo and Caroline Williamson. Pro bono counsel Emily Goldberg was also instrumental in the effort.December 3, 2019