Our new friend?

Our new friend?

Something really interesting happened recently at the U.S. Supreme Court.

For those of you who failed high school social studies, let me remind you that for a case to reach the Supreme Court, four members of the Court must agree to grant a “writ of certiorari.”  This is otherwise known as the “Rule of Four.”    

Now, several years ago the state of Oklahoma, in all of its wisdom, enacted the cleverly titled “Oklahoma Ultrasound Act” that required a physician or certified technician to perform an obstetric ultrasound on the pregnant woman, using either a vaginal transducer or an abdominal transducer, whichever would display the embryo or fetus more clearly for a woman that desired an abortion.  The technician would also have had to provide a simultaneous explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting, display the ultrasound images so that the pregnant woman may view them and describe the presence of organs if viewable.

A state trial court struck down the statute and later the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld that decision.  Then, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a Republican, decided to appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The one thing that most people do not understand is that when a state appeals any cases, it actually costs the taxpayers a bunch of money because of the expensive legal process.   Don’t get me started on that issue.

So, at some point this case was considered by the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.  They all meet in a private room and there is absolutely no record of the proceedings.  The Chief Justice simply asks the justices to vote on whether or not to grant cert in the thousands of cases before them. 

Truth be told – I was not in that room.  But I will bet the ranch that the Court’s extreme right wing – Scalia, Alito and Thomas – voted to grant cert.   But the next day, the Court announced that it was not granting cert to this abortion-related case, no doubt shocking a lot of people and ticking off the anti-abortion movement.   The decision to not review the case upheld the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision striking down the statute. 

So, what happened?

No doubt that the liberal wing of the Court – Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsberg and Breyer – voted to not grant cert.  And Justice Kennedy, who is always a swing vote on the issue, probably just decided he’d had enough of abortion cases for the time being so he joined the liberals.

That leaves Justice Roberts, an anti-abortion conservative who could have been the fourth vote.

Thank you, Justice Roberts???