Federal courts step in on abortion, civil rights | Arkansas Blog

Federal courts step in on abortion, civil rights

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Another day to be thankful for the federal judiciary.

* ABORTION: A federal judge in Florida has struck down a state law, which — as in Arkansas — requires abortion providers to have a doctor with hospital admitting privileges. Our law is already on hold thanks to a preliminary ruling. Action by the U.S. Supreme Court this week spells its doom. But Attorney General Leslie Rutledge continues to fight for this infringement on women's medical autonomy. In this, Arkansas emulates Missouri, which apparently intends to continue enforcing an uneven more clearly unconstitutional law requiring that abortions past 16 weeks of pregnancy be performed in hospitals.

The Florida law, like an Arkansas law already under challenge, also cuts off family planning money for Planned Parenthood because its other, non-supported, services include abortion. Judge Robert Hinkle said states cannot deny money because it provides services protected by the U.S. Constitution.

"You may have a CEO of a company who may support another party or another candidate," Hinkle said. "But the state can't stop a contract with them because they don't like who he supports."
(HMMMM. Never mind abortion. I can think of other times the government denies money to businesses on account of their positions on political issues.)

* CIVIL RIGHTS: A federal judge in Mississippi has struck down a state right that establishes a religious pretext for refusing to provide services to gay people. The Arkansas egislature passed, and the governor signed, a similar, though not identical law. But it's intent was precisely the same: To give an excuse to those who want to discriminate against gay people in employment, housing and public services. Kudos to Judge Carlton Reeves,who wrote nothing but the simple truth about the law in Mississippi (and, by extension, Arkansas). These laws extend protection for bias only to that sector of the religious community that favors discrimination against gay people.

The state has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others.

...  HB 1523 favors Southern Baptist over Unitarian doctrine, Catholic over Episcopalian doctrine, and Orthodox Judaism over Reform Judaism doctrine, to list just a few examples.
Arkansas's day in court will come.

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