Newly seated Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s progressive wing on Monday in declining to review three cases centered on Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood at the state level.
In dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas accused the majority of “abdicating” its duty for political reasons.
“So what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here?” Thomas wrote. “I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood.'”
Thomas asserted that a “tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty.”
“If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background,” he wrote.
Associate Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined the Thomas dissent.
The fierce opposition from the left to Kavanaugh’s nomination by President Trump was fueled in part by the prospect of him becoming the deciding vote in a case that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The Supreme Court was considering an appeal of a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that sided with Planned Parenthood after Republican state leaders in Louisiana and Kansas stripped the abortion provider of state Medicaid funds.
A pro-life advocacy group had presented evidence that Planned Parenthood was harvesting and selling fetal materials.
In response, Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of several clients. The 5th circuit ruled that Medicaid recipients can challenge the disqualification of a provider under the Medicaid law.