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Supreme Court will decide if Kentucky AG can appeal ruling that struck down pro-life law

Kentucky

The Supreme Court will decide whether or not to allow Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to continue the legal fight to overturn a lower court’s decision to strike down a pro-life law in the state.

House Bill 454, which passed and was signed into law by former Gov. Matt Bevin back in 2018, banned the D&E abortion procedure. D&E abortions, also called dilation and evacuation or dismemberment abortions, involve tearing the preborn child’s arms and legs from his or her body to cause death. It is the most commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure and is performed on babies old enough to survive outside the womb.

In June, a federal appeals court upheld a district court’s ruling that Kentucky’s ban on D&E abortions was unconstitutional. At that time, Cameron said the state was “disappointed with the court’s ruling and will take any steps necessary to continue defending the law, which protects the unborn from a gruesome procedure.” Cameron attempted to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, but Kentucky’s Democratic administration — more specifically, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear — did not wish to continue defending the law. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals barred Cameron from filing the appeal, according to CNN. Now, the Supreme Court will determine if a state’s attorney general or governor should be able to intervene in such a situation.

“The trickier question, and the one the Supreme Court agreed to resolve today, is when federal courts should allow one of those state actors to intervene if the other one declines to pursue an appeal,” explained CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “And although it comes in the politically fraught context of a challenge to Kentucky’s controversial abortion law, its implications are at once much broader and much more technical.”

Kentucky’s deputy attorney general, Barry Dunn, said in court documents that Cameron “has not only the power, but also the duty” to defend the law against any legal challenges. “When another state official declines to appeal an adverse ruling,” he said. “Kentucky law empowers the Attorney General to step in and continue defending state law on appeal.”

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