High Court could rule in abortion clinic cases this week

In a case that has raised the issue of whether the Supreme Court can afford to take up all manner of cases simultaneously, the court is due to issue a written order Thursday clearing the way for it to decide whether the federal government can shut down abortion clinics it deems inhumane.

In two of the six abortion cases before the court in the past four months, the justices are asking whether the government is justified in shutting down clinics that offer abortions, which are legal in this country. The issue in that case revolves around a new federal regulation for clinics that was enacted in the wake of the 2010 health-care overhaul. The regulation would shut down abortion clinics if all three elements are met: at least one clinic is facing an operating license revocation or revocation; the clinic had not filed an application for an operating license; and its owners would not agree to operate with the state if they were reappointed to boards with constitutional responsibilities over abortion clinics.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissent in that case, which the Obama administration said Thursday it intended to oppose at the Supreme Court. Sotomayor said the new regulation was unconstitutional and argued that the justices should not “cherry-pick the most narrow categories of abortions eligible for abortion provider restrictions.”

The justices heard arguments in the case on March 6 and could issue an order Thursday that closes a second part of the case in order to reach a final outcome in the abortion case and the previous one.

The New York Times reported the two cases were discussed on Monday, April 1, while Justice Stephen Breyer was on the road attending to a previously scheduled Senate confirmation hearing on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Those reporting changes did not happen until Wednesday, April 9, the newspaper reported.

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