Supreme Court decides not to hear cases involving state efforts to defund Planned Parenthood

The US Supreme Court today declined to hear cases involving state efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Three Justices (Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch) dissented from the denial of certiorari. The dissenters said the Court should have granted review to address the important legal issue the cases presented–whether there is a private right of action under the Medicaid Act. The lower court rulings enabled Medicaid recipients to challenge state determinations of “qualified” Medicaid providers under federal law. The dissenters thought the Court declined review because various Planned Parenthood affiliates brought the challenges. The dissenters noted, however, that the legal question presented “has nothing to do with abortion.” The dissenting opinion further noted that “Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty.” Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh voted with the majority to decline review.

As noted, the cases did not deal with abortion directly and so one should not read too much into the Court’s denial of review. It may be though, as the dissent suggested, that the Court wanted to avoid a case with sensitive political implications. This suggests that the Court may, for the moment at least, not take up cases dealing with the right to abortion.


Richard Myers

Richard S. Myers, the Vice-President of UFL, is Professor of Law at Ave Maria School of Law, where he teaches Antitrust, Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, and Religious Freedom. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Kenyon College and earned his law degree at Notre Dame, where he won the law school's highest academic prize. He began his legal career by clerking for Judge John F. Kilkenny of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Professor Myers also worked for Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in Washington, D.C. He taught at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law before joining the Ave Maria faculty. He is a co-editor of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Natural Law Tradition: Contemporary Perspectives (Catholic University of American Press, 2004) and a co-editor of Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy (Scarecrow Press, 2007). He has also published extensively on constitutional law in law reviews and also testified before Congressional and state legislative hearings on life issues. Married to Mollie Murphy, who is also on the faculty at Ave Maria School of Law, they are the proud parents of six children - Michael, Patrick, Clare, Kathleen, Matthew, and Andrew.