The Supreme Court opted against reviewing three cases relating to efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. In a 6-3 vote, the high court declined to take up the issue of whether states can strip the abortion provider of Medicaid funds if it’s found the group is harvesting and selling “fetal materials.” The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Planned Parenthood in 2015 in the cases; the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case upholds that decision. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas accused the court majority of playing into political concerns.
ALSO—Disappointing liberals who insisted Brett Kavanaugh was the next Hitler, the newest Supreme Court justice sided with Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s liberal bloc in declining to hear the case, effectively siding with Planned Parenthood.
—QUOTABLE: “So what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here?…I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood’…Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty…If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background.” -Thomas opinion
The Supreme Court handed property owners a big victory in a recent dispute over an endangered frog. On Tuesday, the court unanimously said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was wrong in declaring a 1,500 acre tract of land in Louisiana to be “critical habitat” for the endangered Dusky Gopher Frog—which hasn’t lived in the area for decades. The FWS told the plaintiff, Edward Poitevent, in 2011 that his land would be listed as a “backup” habitat for the frog, which was last seen there in the 1960s. The government can only list the actual habitat of a species as “critical habitat,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced on Tuesday she has dementia. The 88 year old Ronald Reagan appointee, the first female on the court, said she plans to withdraw from public life, but wanted to communicate her condition in a public letter while she still can. She retired from the court in 2006 to care for her husband, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
—”While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings of my life.” -Day O’Connor
—”Although she has announced that she is withdrawing from public life, no illness or condition can take away the inspiration she provides for those who will follow the many paths she has blazed.” -Chief Justice John Roberts
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh started his new job on Monday, and heard his first case on the nation’s highest court Tuesday. And he hit the ground running. Hearing arguments over what should be considered a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act, Kavanaugh asked nearly as many questions as Chief Justice John Roberts. Speculation was that he might lay low at first, but Kavanaugh—who has 12 years of experience as a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals—did the opposite. No protesters managed to crash the proceeding.
The swearing in of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was interrupted by protesters wailing outside. They also scratched and clawed at the door. The protesters broke through a police line outside, where they were mostly being held at bay, and barged into the Court’s chamber, outside the door to the room where Chief Justice John Roberts was administering the oath of office late Saturday. In a video posted online, the protesters—angry about the confirmation vote earlier in the day—screamed and tried to pry to obviously very heavy, and very locked, doors open.