June 27, 2024

Supreme Court Decides Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States

On June 27, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Moyle v. United States, No. 23-726, and Idaho v. United States, No. 23-727, holding the writs of certiorari before judgment granted to hear the cases were improvidently granted; the Court accordingly dismissed the writs and vacated its previously entered stay of the district court’s injunction.

The State of Idaho passed the Defense of Life Act, which prohibited all abortions unless they were necessary to save the life of the mother. Before the law could take effect, the Federal Government sued the State, arguing that the Act was preempted by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The Government claimed EMTALA preempts state laws that bar a hospital from performing an abortion needed to prevent serious health harms.

The district court preliminarily enjoined enforcement of the Defense of Life Act, pending final resolution of the suit. Idaho then asked the Ninth Circuit to stay the injunction, and the Ninth Circuit declined. Idaho then filed an emergency application to the U.S. Supreme Court and sought a writ of certiorari before judgment. The Court stayed the injunction and granted the petition.

In a per curiam opinion, the Court held that the writs of certiorari before judgment were improvidently granted and should therefore be dismissed. The Court also vacated its stay of the district court’s preliminary injunction of the Defense of Life Act.

Justice Kagan filed a concurring opinion, which Justice Sotomayor joined, and which Justice Jackson joined in part. Justice Barrett filed a concurring opinion, which Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh joined. Justice Jackson filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Justice Alito filed a dissent, which Justice Thomas joined, and which Justice Gorsuch joined in part.

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