The Supreme Court on Tuesday will see if the Kentucky attorney general can defend a state abortion law that bans surgical intervention commonly used in the second trimester of pregnancy.
Immediately after the law was signed by the then government. Matt Bevin, a Republican, challenged the measure in court in 2018, a surgical center for women in Louisville. A federal judge ruled the 2019 law unconstitutional and concluded that it restricted a woman’s right to have an abortion before the fetus was deemed viable.
A three-person jury from the Ohio-based US Court of Appeals for the 6th District approved. At that point, the state health officer who had defended the law decided not to make any further appeals.
But after Republican Daniel Cameron was elected attorney general for the state in 2020, he asked the entire 6th District to reconsider the law, which restricted a procedure known as dilation and evacuation. The appeals court dismissed him on the grounds that he was late for the trial.
Cameron said the appeals court’s refusal to let him defend the law prevented him from doing what state law requires him to do. He said other federal court rulings had allowed attorneys general to intervene in the later stages of the litigation.
As a representative of the surgical center, the American Civil Liberties Union said the appellate court’s ruling was “just the routine application of the rules,” adding that the contested law “would effectively ban abortion in Kentucky after the first few weeks of the second trimester.”
The question before the Supreme Court is whether the attorney general can try to reintroduce the law at this late stage, a technical point which, given the law in question, has turned the case into some sort of proxy dispute over abortion.
If Cameron succeeds in the Supreme Court, he can ask the entire appeals court to uphold the constitutionality of state law, but there is no guarantee that it will.
Supreme Court justices will challenge Mississippi directly against Roe v. Wade won’t accept until December 1st.