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In Support of States’ Rights to Regulate Abortion under Dobbs (2022)

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On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, America’s Future filed an Amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in Mike Moyle, Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives, et al. v United States, Dkt No. 23-726.  The SCOTUS public docket in this case is located here.  The SCOTUS has granted Idaho’s petition for certiorari and has scheduled oral argument in this case for Wednesday, April 24, 2024.  It will be live streamed and recorded.  Access to the live stream and recording is located here, and later located in the SCOTUS’s audio archives which is located here.

The question in the case to be resolved by SCOTUS is:

Whether EMTALA [the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986, 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd] preempts state laws that protect human life and prohibit abortions, like Idaho’s “Defense of Life Act”.

For background, the original plaintiff in this case is the United States Justice Department (DOJ). Once again, Americans are burdened with a brazen federal government trying to tie the hands of a state legislature.  And, yet again, the Biden administration plays word games in an attempt to import its demonic ideology onto Americans and usurp states’ rights as conferred to the states by the Constitution.  The Tenth Amendment of our Constitution plainly recognizes,

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Here, in contravene of the Constitution and contrary to the June 24, 2022 SCOTUS decision in Dobbs which overturned Roe v Wade (1973) thereby returning the right to regulate abortions back to the states and its residents, the Biden Administration’s DOJ employed taxpayer money and resources to challenge the constitutionality of Idaho’s state law entitled Defense of Life Act.  This state law was duly passed by the Idaho elected members of the Idaho legislature, and properly signed into law by Idaho’s Governor Brad Little.

Idaho’s Defense of Life Act proscribes abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother.  It was scheduled to take effect on August 25, 2022 (30 days following the Dobbs decision), however, on August 2, 2022, the DOJ filed suit, seeking injunctive relief to enjoin Idaho from implementing and enforcing the law, arguing EMTALA preempts state law and requires abortions to be performed under circumstances far beyond the scope of Idaho’s duly enacted Defense of Life Act.

As detailed in our brief, the DOJ’s argument undermines the SCOTUS, manipulates the meaning of words to gain leverage against residents of the states, and rejects the idea that Americans can decide for themselves which platforms of elected official best advances their interests when they vote in elections.  To clarify, subsequent to Dobbs, the DOJ surreptitiously took a  corrupt and wayward approach to interpreting a federal law that has been “on the books” for nearly 40 years.  As explained in our brief, 

[The DOJ’s] theory [is] that the [Idaho Defense of Life Act] violated a July 11, 2022, post-Dobbs interpretation [by the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)] of [] EMTALA is commonly referred to by the practice it was enacted to prevent — the Patient Anti-Dumping Act. The district court granted an injunction against the Act on August 24, 2022, the day before the Idaho law was to take effect.

The brief posits that the DOJ’s theory is deficient on its face and fatally flawed primarily based on the following four reasons, each of which is fully set forth in the “Argument” section of our brief:

HHS had no statutory authority to issue the HHS guidance documents…EMTALA never required abortions to be performed…the lower courts’ injunction against Idaho law undermines the SCOTUS decision in Dobbs…[and] HHS’s guidance documents constitute an unconstitutional exercise of a federal police power…[and] the Founders intended dual sovereignties (by and between the 50 states’ governments and the one national, i.e. federal, government) to preserve liberty.   

 America’s Future urges the SCOTUS to reverse the preliminary injunction in this case and uphold Idaho’s Defense of Life Act as a valid exercise of states’ rights.

Editor’s Note: To read all of our Amicus briefs, please visit our Law & Policy page.

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