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Justice Barrett: 'Idaho's ability to enforce its law remains almost entirely intact'

Supreme Court Steps on a sunny morning

The following quote may be attributed to Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday in State of Idaho v. United States of America to decline to rule on the merits of the case, but instead send the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for further consideration:

“The Supreme Court sent the case back to the 9th Circuit today after my office won significant concessions from the United States that Justice Barrett described as ‘important’ and ‘critical.’ Today, the court said that Idaho will be able to enforce its law to save lives in the vast majority of circumstances while the case proceeds. The Biden administration’s concession that EMTALA will rarely override Idaho’s law caused the Supreme Court to ask the 9th Circuit for review in light of the federal government’s change in position. Justice Barrett wrote, those concessions mean that Idaho’s Defense of Life Act ‘remains almost entirely intact.’ The 9th Circuit’s decision should be easy. As Justice Alito explained well: the Biden administration’s ‘preemption theory is plainly unsound.’ I remain committed to protect unborn life and ensure women in Idaho receive necessary medical care, and I will continue my outreach to doctors and hospitals across Idaho to ensure that they understand what our law requires. We look forward to ending this administration’s relentless overreach into Idahoans’ right to protect and defend life.”

The following quote may be attributed to Idaho Chief of Constitutional Litigation and Policy Josh Turner, who argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court in April:

“I could not be more proud of what our office has accomplished in this case so far. We forced the Biden administration to make major concessions before the Supreme Court that it did not want to make, and those concessions are going to save many unborn lives. The people of Idaho should not be fooled by the misleading headlines in the media. Instead, I encourage everyone to read the court’s opinions for themselves. The court may have decided to ‘punt’ today on the merits given the Biden administration’s ‘important’ and ‘critical’ concessions, but I have zero doubt after reading the decision, after standing before the justices and answering their questions, and after listening to the DOJ’s best arguments to defend the Biden administration’s legally untenable position, that Idaho’s Defense of Life Act is not preempted by EMTALA and will be vindicated in full.”

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch:

“Both Idaho’s law and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act seek to protect the lives of women and their unborn children, and the consistency between those laws makes us confident about the future of this case. As Justice Barrett noted in her opinion, ‘even with the preliminary injunction in place, Idaho’s ability to enforce its law remains almost entirely intact.’ The Biden administration can’t manipulate federal law to wipe out state protections for unborn children and force emergency room doctors to perform abortions. Under Idaho’s law, doctors will continue to provide care to women experiencing ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, and life-threatening conditions. We’ll continue to assist the state of Idaho and bring a rightful end to the administration’s unlawful overreach and protect the people’s freedom to preserve life.”

While the justices issued four separate opinions, none of the opinions commanded a majority. Five justices voted to return the case to the 9th Circuit, which had scheduled the case for en banc consideration by an 11-member panel.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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John Bursch
John Bursch
Senior Counsel, Vice President of Appellate Advocacy
John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom.