WASHINGTON – The The Supreme Court Monday took up a number of cases that challenged federal rules created under former President Donald Trump’s administration, including a highly contested effort to cut funding for medical centers referring patients for abortions, and a rule designed to curb legal immigration.
Described by critics as a “gag rule,” the provision referring abortion in 2019 cited condemnation from Democrats at the time and praise from anti-abortion groups who saw the movement as a way to reduce funding for planned parents and similar entities. Federal federal courts have been divided on the constitutionality of the rule.
Proponents say the rule will ensure that federal money is not used for abortions, while opponents say it will limit women’s ability to get abortion counseling. The decision to take the case can give the new 6-3 Conservative majority in the Supreme Court his first opportunity to wade into the abortion debate.
The Trump-era rule “is designed to target abortion providers to score political points,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The damage of the gag rule is felt most by those who have always had systemic barriers to health care.”
The Supreme Court also announced Monday that it will take up a case for another Trump administration regulation that allows federal officials to deny green cards and visas to immigrants if they believe the recipients will receive government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid or housing coupons.
Opponents said the regulation amounted to a wealth test for new immigrants.
The “public indictment” rule was one of several efforts by the Trump administration to reduce legal immigration. Officials said at the time that the rule was intended to ensure that those who were proven to be legally resident support themselves. A federal court of law ruled against Trump’s immigration ordinance in December, dismissing that argument.
President Joe Biden has already begun to relax both Trump policies, but he also will not be able to come quickly because they were implemented through a process regulation process at the department level rather than with an executive order that could be revoked with a stroke of the president’s pen. The court could also decide that the rules were constitutional if a future president tried to implement them again.
Trump effectively blocked clinics from receiving federal funding through the Title X program if they offered abortion services by other means. The program was established in 1970 and offers more than $ 250 million in annual federal funding for health care for low-income and uninsured families. The money cannot be used to pay for abortion.
Trump tightened the program’s rules by also excluding references to abortion services. Since these changes, approx. a quarter of clinics and other providers who had received federal grants to help the uninsured or low-income patients no longer, according to the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Spokesmen say it has reduced women’s access to contraception, cancer screening and preventive care.
Conservatives have for generations pushed Republican presidents to elect Supreme Court justices who will overthrow – or at least cut off – the milestone in 1973, the Roe v. Wade ruling, which established a constitutional right to abortion. Trump’s three nominees – associate judges Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – have given the court its most conservative split since the 1930s.
The U.S. District Court of Virginia for the 4th Circuit recently blocked the rule from coming into force in Maryland. But the California 9th Circuit maintained it.
Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said the anti-abortion group is convinced the Supreme Court will uphold the rule, which she said would give future presidential administrations the right to “remove” taxpayers’ funding from abortions.
“Abortion is not ‘family planning,'” Dannenfelser said in a statement, predicting that the Supreme Court would stop “the treatment of Title X taxpayers’ dollars for the abortion industry.”
The cases of both rules from the Trump era will not be argued in court until the fall.
Contribution: Maureen Groppe
This article was originally beaded in the US TODAY: Supreme Court to deal with Trump abortion cases, immigration rules