Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge isn’t through defending the state’s unconstitutional law banning abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy.
Two weeks ago, a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower federal court’s ruling that the 2013 Arkansas law was unconstitutional. Today, Rutledge’s office filed a petition with the 8th Circuit requesting a rehearing on the issue, this time before the entire court.
Sounds like nothing but theater to me. As Max noted previously, the language in the May opinion issued by the panel made it clear the judges — all of whom are George W. Bush appointees — didn’t particularly want to undo Arkansas’s ban, but were compelled to do so because it was so clear the state law flew in the face of decades of established precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court. Viability is still the deciding line for prohibitions on abortion. The 12-week mark is months before any fetus could be viable outside the womb.
To put it mildly, it’s hard to imagine the full 8th Circuit delivering a different opinion on the “Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act,” but I suppose if the court costs are on the public dime, why not press ever onward?
Rutledge said in a statement on the AG’s website, “I have and will continue to be a strong advocate for the unborn … The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act, which prohibits abortions after 12 weeks when a heartbeat is detected, was passed by lawmakers in 2013, and it is my duty to defend this law. I believe that the State’s appeal is entitled to a full hearing before the entire Eighth Circuit and not just a three-judge panel.”
P.S. — It’s entirely irrelevant to the serious issue at hand, but I have to mention this. I took a look just now at Wikipedia’s list of judges on the 8th Circuit to see who appointed who: Bush, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Obama … “L. Johnson”? Indeed. Myron H. Bright, born 1919, was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. Bright obtained ‘senior status‘ some time ago (um, the year of my birth, actually) but apparently he still hears cases at age 96. He’s also recently written a memoir.