“Instead of valuing fundamental democratic principles, unelected justices have intruded on the sovereign prerogatives of state governments by imposing their own policy preference in favor of abortion to override legitimate abortion safety regulations,” she said in a statement.
The abortion-rights movement had been using Mr. Trump’s appointments of Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh as rallying calls for campaigns to take Senate seats, such as those held by Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa. Monday’s ruling seemed to reinforce that strategy.
“This is great news, but the battle continues, folks,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group, wrote on Twitter. “As long as Kavanaugh is on the bench, our rights are on the line—and we need your help to flip the Senate.”
Lawyers for the clinic argued that their victory was resounding because it involved the Supreme Court’s ruling in their favor for the second time in four years on a case involving admitting privileges. The law was almost identical to a Texas law, large parts of which the Supreme Court struck down in 2016, and Justice Stephen G. Breyer said as much in his opinion. Even Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who sided against the abortion-rights groups in the 2016 case, gave his qualified support in Monday’s ruling.
“Two strikes, you’re out,” said T.J. Tu, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights and a lawyer for the clinic. The message, he said, was that “states should really knock this off.”
But in many ways the ruling was narrow — putting to rest merely one of many legal strategies used by the anti-abortion movement to reduce access. Legislatures, largely in red states, passed dozens of anti-abortion laws last year alone.
Nor is it a given that the 5-to-4 decision means that Chief Justice Roberts will always side with the court’s liberal wing on abortion cases. Though he was the deciding vote for Monday’s ruling, the chief justice specified in his concurring opinion that he believed the 2016 precedent that Monday’s ruling was based on was “wrongly decided.”