While reproductive rights advocates expressed relief on Thursday after the Supreme Court temporarily blocked an extreme Louisiana anti-abortion law that could have left the state with just one doctor authorized to perform the procedure, legal experts and women's groups warned that Justice Brett Kavanaugh's dissent in the case confirmed fears that he is dead-set on overturning Roe v. Wade.
"Kavanaugh has declared war on Roe v. Wade," wrote Slate legal affairs journalist Mark Joseph Stern after the high court's 5-4 decision, in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's liberal justices in voting to block the law, while Kavanaugh sided with Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito in voting for the law's implementation.
In a four-page dissent (pdf) that Stern described as "absurd" and "astoundingly dishonest," Kavanaugh brushed aside a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that declared a similar Texas law unconstitutional, and highlighted Louisiana's promise that it would not "move aggressively" to enforce the harsh abortion restrictions as a reason they should be allowed to move forward.
"The most astounding aspect of Kavanaugh's dissent is its credulous belief in Louisiana's ostensible benevolence toward abortion clinics," Stern wrote. The entire state of Louisiana has just three abortion clinics.
Kavanaugh's dissent is absurd. He says SCOTUS should not block the law because Louisiana claims it won't enforce it too "aggressively" at first. Absolute nonsense. A bad-faith pinky promise does not justify flagrant violation of Supreme Court precedent. https://t.co/xSaTIvjYvN pic.twitter.com/cdXQ70gb2I
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) February 8, 2019
Rights groups that warned throughout Kavanaugh's confirmation process last year that he would work to overturn Roe viewed the Trump-appointed judge's dissent on Thursday as further vindication of their worst fears.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), in particular, was called out for her decisive vote to confirm Kavanaugh, and progressives vowed to ramp up their efforts to oust her in 2020.
Following the Supreme Court's decision to temporarily block Louisiana's anti-abortion law, NARAL Pro-Choice America applauded the hold as good news but warned that reproductive rights are still at risk nationwide.
"While this ruling falls on the right side of history," the group concluded, "it's a sobering reminder that our rights hang by a dangerously thin thread."