Even if a statute does not appear unconstitutional on its face, it is nevertheless invalid if enacted for an improper discriminatory purpose, and the evidence before the court is that it was enacted precisely for this purpose, Marten said. (LINK)
These are the words of the judge in a ruling granting Planned Parenthood an injunction against Kansas’ recent law defunding the healthcare provider. According to the judge, Kansas lawmakers were potentially in violation of both the first and the fourteenth amendments. But beyond that, he opined, it goes against the constitutional spirit of the law because it appears to be targeted legislation designed to punish a group for their controversial — but still legal — practices and beliefs.
That’s the crux of the matter, and something we non-believers need to remember to bring up in print and conversation. These lawmakers, those who have brought literally hundreds of similar bills before state legislatures this year, are doing nothing less than trying to find alternative ways to ban abortion. And abortion is absolutely legal in the U.S. What they are doing is functionally no different than organized crime. They are using their positions of influence within state and local government bodies to create their own brand of local justice — despite flying in the face of prior Supreme Court rulings and established federal law.
The description of the legal battle is eerily colonial:
Monday’s hearing was the first legal test of the statute. Planned Parenthood is challenging its constitutionality based on the Supremacy Clause, which prohibits states from imposing conditions of eligibility on federal programs that are not required by federal law.
In other words, the Supremacy Clause — in the Constitution that the Tea Baggers and Fundamentalists so love to cite — is a very direct and unequivocal a priori ruling that whenever a state and federal law butt heads, the federal law wins.
The Kansas ruling, if it is upheld by the Supreme Court, has the potential to have long reaching effects for this type of state legislation. In effect, it would provide precedent at a national level for throwing out similar laws in all states. For the forseeable future, it would make it very difficult for any state to hinder a woman’s access to healthcare at any provider that also offers abortion services.
This is one of those cases that needs to be watched very closely. The injunction ruling is a clear call to challenge similar laws in other states. It could represent a tremendous victory for progressives, and significantly more than a slap on the wrist for Christian bigots and haters attempting to legislate their religion.
- Judge blocks Kansas law that cuts money for Planned Parenthood (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Planned Parenthood defunding law blocked in Kan. (cbsnews.com)