The US Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments to determine whether Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron could defend his state’s abortion law. Reports interpreted justices — both conservative and liberal — as responding favorably to arguments for allowing a defense. As a result, there is speculation that the court may vote in favor of the attorney general.
Cameron, as the petitioner, was represented by Deputy Solicitor General Matthew Kuhn. Kuhn argued that the attorney general has a duty to defend the laws of Kentucky. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the sole abortion provider in Kentucky, was the respondent. The clinic was represented by ACLU Attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, who argued that Cameron had waited beyond the required deadline to intervene.
The law, HB 454, was passed in 2018. It restricts access to dilation and evacuation procedures. The law was ruled unconstitutional on appeal by the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Attorney General Cameron seeks to appeal and defend the law, while Governor Andy Beshear has chosen not to do so.
The political situation is complex and arises out of a split Kentucky government. When the bill was passed, Kentucky was under the control of Republican Governor Matt Bevin. However, Bevin was defeated in 2019 by Democrat Andy Beshear. Beshear is less keen to actively appeal and defend a law relating to abortion restrictions. However, Kentucky also elected the state’s attorney general, who, as a Republican, may be more interested in defending the law.
The topic of the case is one of a handful of controversial subjects the court will face in the current session. It is unclear if a positive decision will have any effect on the constitutionality of the law. However, an unfavorable decision could defeat the law.