Supreme Court Notebook

 High court action sought by Planned Parenth­ood group 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Planned Parenthood asked the Supreme Court Monday to place Texas’ new abortion restrictions on hold.

The group said in a filing with the high court that more than a third of the clinics in Texas have been forced to stop providing abortions since a court order allowed the new restrictions to take effect Friday.

Planned Parenthood said that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals went too far in overruling a trial judge who blocked the law’s provision requiring doctors who perform abortions in clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The filing was addressed to Justice Antonin Scalia, who oversees emergency matters from Texas. Scalia has asked Texas to respond by Nov. 12, meaning that the provision will remain in effect at least until then.

The appeals court ruling came three days after U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said the provision serves no medical purpose.

The three-judge appellate panel acknowledged that the provision “may increase the cost of accessing an abortion provider and decrease the number of physicians available to perform abortions.” However, the panel said that the Supreme Court has held that having “the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate” a law that serves a valid purpose, “one not designed to strike at the right itself.”

The three judges are appointees of President George W. Bush, as is Yeakel.

The appellate panel’s ruling is temporary until it can hold a complete hearing, likely in January.
The restrictions are among the toughest in the nation and gained notoriety when Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis launched a nearly 13-hour filibuster against them in June. Davis has since launched her own gubernatorial campaign and could face Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is defending the law, in the November 2014 election. Republican Gov. Rick Perry has said he will not seek another term.
 
 

Court decli­n­es to act on Facebook suit settlement 

 
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has left in place the settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Facebook over a marketing program that broadcast users’ purchasing and shopping habits to their friends.
 
The justices declined Monday to review the $9.5 million settlement of a lawsuit about the now-shuttered Beacon marketing program. The money from the settlement was used to pay lawyers and set up an Internet privacy foundation. Almost none of it reached Facebook users.

The case offered a court that has been hostile to class-action lawsuits the opportunity to limit a popular way of settling such claims by directing the bulk of the money involved to lawyers and charity, rather than people affected by a company’s practices.

Chief Justice John Roberts said the court should take up the issue in another case.
 
 

High court ends Okla. bid to limit drug abortions 

 
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Monday it will leave in place an Oklahoma court ruling that struck down a state law limiting drug-induced abortions.
 
The justices did not comment in dismissing the state’s appeal of last year’s ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. That ruling had invalidated a law requiring doctors to administer the drugs in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocol.

Although the Supreme Court said in June that it would take up the case, the justices took the unusual step of first asking the Oklahoma court to clarify its ruling. Writing last week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said that the law would not only limit drug-induced abortions, but also effectively ban them altogether.

Oklahoma is among five states — the others are Arizona, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas — that have sought to restrict medical abortions by limiting or banning off-label uses of drugs.

Among the drugs covered by the laws is mifepristone, originally known as RU-486. FDA approved its use in 2000 through the first seven weeks of pregnancy. It is prescribed along with a second drug, misoprostol.

Since the FDA approval, medical researchers and clinical trials have shown that mifepristone is effective in much smaller doses and for two weeks longer in a pregnancy, the law’s challengers argued.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court noted that such off-label uses of drugs are standard medical practice.

More than 1.4 million women have taken the drugs to induce abortions. The state argued that at least eight women have died, justifying its law requiring adherence to the FDA protocol.

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