Kavanaugh reportedly tried to find middle ground in Louisiana abortion case, but other justices weren't having it

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Kathryn Krawczyk
·2 min read
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Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh reportedly didn't want to be on the losing side of a major case.

In late June, the court ruled 5-4 that a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have "active admitting privileges" at a hospital within 30 miles was invalid. Chief Justice John Roberts joined with liberals to provide the pivotal vote in the case, but as people familiar with court discussions tell CNN, that's not how Kavanaugh wanted it to go down.

Abortion rights were a big focus of Kavanaugh's 2018 confirmation hearing, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) saying Kavanaugh's promise to uphold Roe v. Wade was a big reason the pro-choice Republican overlooked a sexual assault allegation and cast a deciding vote to confirm him. The Louisiana ruling in late June brought Kavanaugh's stance into question, as he joined conservatives to claim the law protected women's health.

But as CNN reports, "Kavanaugh wanted the justices to sidestep any ruling on the merits" of the law and avoid having to "put their own views on the line." In an internal memo and in conversations, Kavanaugh tried to convince the justices to return the case to a trial court judge to gather more facts on just how burdensome the law would be on abortion doctors, sources say. That would stop the law from going into immediate effect, but also spare the justices from making a clear determination on abortion restrictions. But even Roberts, who upheld a Texas law just like Louisiana's 2015, didn't go for it.

Kavanaugh also reportedly tried a similar strategy in cases regarding subpoenas for President Trump's financial records, but ultimately sided with the majority to declare Trump wasn't absolutely immune to those subpoenas. Read more about Kavanaugh's attempt to keep the middle ground at CNN.

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