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Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Anti-Abortion Law

In June Medical Services v. Russo, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that would have severely limited access to abortion in the state. Paul, Weiss submitted an influential amicus brief in support of the petitioner in the appeal.

In its appeal, June Medical, an abortion provider, challenged a state law that would have required all doctors performing abortions in Louisiana to have admitting privileges at a state-authorized hospital within 30 miles of the clinic—a requirement both medically unnecessary and an impossible hurdle where no local hospitals will provide such credentials. The Louisiana law is identical to the Texas law struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. If the law had been allowed to stand, all but one clinic in Louisiana would have been forced to close.

In June Medical, as in the earlier, similar appeal in Whole Woman’s Health, Paul, Weiss submitted an amicus brief on behalf of hundreds of lawyers who have had abortions. Described by the press as “powerful” and “remarkable,” both briefs included testimonials by 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. The amici’s stories illustrate the profound impact that abortion access has had on individuals and even the legal profession itself; as one amici 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.”

In an opinion joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, Justice Breyer wrote that the district court’s findings for the plaintiff abortion provider “mirror those made in Whole Woman’s Health in every relevant respect and require the same result. We consequently hold that the Louisiana statute is unconstitutional.” In his concurrence, Chief Justice Roberts explained that, while he thought Whole Woman’s Health was wrongly decided—he had dissented there—that case is binding precedent. Thus, the Court’s opinion is not only a win for reproductive freedom and equality, but also for the rule of law.

The Paul, Weiss team that filed the amicus brief in June Medical was led by litigation partners Claudia Hammerman, Alexia Korberg and Audra Soloway, and associates Melina Meneguin-Layerenza, Daniela Lorenzo, Tanya Manno and Caroline Williamson. Pro bono counsel Emily Goldberg was also instrumental in the effort.

June 29, 2020

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