In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear a case that would have had serious implications for a reproductive rights organization.
A writ of certiorari — a decision to hear a case before the court, which requires at least four sitting justices to agree — was denied in a case involving Planned Parenthood receiving Medicaid contracts from federal government grants to address issues such as preventive care for women, according to reporting from CNN.
Despite the Supreme Court having a five-member conservative bloc of justices, only three of them (Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch) signaled on Monday that they agreed to hear the case. Two other conservative justices on the bench (Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts) joined with their liberal colleagues in denying the writ of certiorari.
The decision by those justices to not hear the case confounded Thomas, who wrote a comment in response to the court’s failure to consider the case before them. “What explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here?” he wrote.
Thomas also suspected that some justices refused to hear the case because Planned Parenthood was involved, and they didn’t want to deal with an organization tied to abortion or interfere with previous rulings on the issue. “That makes the court’s decision particularly troubling, as the question presented has nothing to do with abortion,” Thomas added.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 10, 2018
The question before the high court dealt primarily with states’ rights to deny federal grants to the low-income healthcare provider. These grants allowed organizations like Planned Parenthood and its affiliates to give preventive care to patients entering its doors, and as Thomas noted, didn’t deal primarily with abortion.
However, several states across the nation had sought to restrict family planning centers, like Planned Parenthood, from receiving federal funds if they also provided abortion services, reported the Guttmacher Institute. Planned Parenthood sued the states on the issue, stating that it was improper for states to deny them funds on that basis.
The denial of a writ of certiorari on Monday means that two lower court rulings made prior to the application for a writ of certiorari reinstating Medicaid grant funding to Planned Parenthood and other similar clinics across the nation would remain in place.
Legal challenges to family planning services, including the right to and restrictions on abortion, could soon make their way to the Supreme Court, reporting from AOL indicated.