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.