The Supreme Court declined to review three cases relating to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood at the state level Monday, over a vigorous dissent from Justice Clarence Thomas.
The dissent was significant because it indicates that Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the high court’s liberal wing to deny review of a lower court decision that favored the nation’s largest abortion provider.
“So what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here?,” Thomas wrote. “I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood.’”
Ship of Fools: How a S... Best Price: $2.05 Buy New $6.17 (as of 10:20 EST - Details) “Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty,” Thomas added. “If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background.”
Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined the Thomas dissent, meaning there were three votes in favor of taking the case. Since four votes are needed for the Supreme Court to take up a case, the opinion indicates that Chief Justice John Roberts and Kavanaugh joined with the four liberals to deny review.
This move could indicate that Roberts and Kavanaugh are loath to take take up an abortion-related question in the aftermath of Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation. The Court’s new junior justice has generally kept a low profile since taking the bench in October.