Alabama’s controversial abortion law may be put on hold until May 2020 while a legal challenge plays out, according to a court filing on the measure.
The state made headlines in May when it passed a pro-life law outlawing all abortions except in the case when a mother’s life is threatened. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood claim the law, which is scheduled to go into effect on November 15th, is unconstitutional and filed suit on May 24th.
In a joint report filed to a judge last week, both sides indicated that if a way forward in the case cannot be resolved by November 15th, they would each ask for a temporary restraining order to block the law until May 24, 2020, one year after the lawsuit was filed. However, both sides disagree about the scope and purpose of discovery, which consists of fact-finding done by means of written interrogatories, requests for documents, and depositions.
The plaintiffs in the case claim that no due process should be given to the state of Alabama because discovery in this case is “unnecessary and inappropriate” due to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Planned Parenthood v Casey. “It is Plaintiffs’ view that the only relevant fact in this case is undisputed: this law bans pre-viability abortions. No amount of discovery can change this outcome.”
In the report, Attorney General Steven Marshall countered that “Alabama is not the first state to enact a law that seeks a change in Supreme Court precedent.” He cited the court case South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. involving state taxation laws. Marshall pointed out that “South Dakota argued in lower courts that the Supreme Court’s precedent was flawed, particularly in light of changed circumstances, and the Supreme Court ultimately agreed.”
In a statement released Wednesday, the Attorney General further clarified his position: “The U.S. Supreme Court often assesses new facts when determining whether its precedents should be reconsidered. In defending H.B. 314, we intend to submit evidence that supports our argument that the Supreme Court erred in deciding two key abortion cases, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Because developing a record can take time, we stated in our court filing this week that we would be willing to agree to a temporary stay of the law if that could help us make our case that Alabama’s law is constitutional. We will be filing briefs on August 5 in the district court that will address these issues.”
Supporters of the law have recognized from its inception that the law would almost certainly be struck down by lower courts; however, their hope then, as now, was that the law would allow for a challenge to major Supreme Court precedents on abortion.
The judge in the case has given the state’s Attorney General until August 5th to file a response to the plaintiff’s motion. The plaintiffs will respond by August 19th.
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