Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel has issued an injunction against implementation of Arizona’s precedent-challenging “fetal pain” abortion ban, that was scheduled to take effect today. Appeals court blocks Arizona's 20-week abortion ban:
With the injunction in place, the restrictions in the Mother's Health and Safety Act (sic) cannot be enforced until the San Francisco-based appeals court hears the case, likely in late October or early November, and issues a ruling. A court decision could take weeks, if not months.
The law, which would make abortions illegal 20 weeks after a woman's last menstruation, is based on the concept of fetal pain. Arizona lawmakers this spring justified the abortion ban by citing evidence that they say proves fetuses feel pain at the 20th week after gestation.
The bill passed with strong Republican support, and Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law, saying it "recognizes the precious life of the pre-born baby."
But the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of three abortion doctors in federal court, arguing the law is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court, they argued, has established that abortions are illegal at the point a fetus becomes viable. That is generally between the 22nd and 24th weeks of pregnancy, according to medical experts and abortion clinics.
On Monday, conservative activist U.S. District Court Judge James Teilborg upheld the law, triggering the request for a preliminary injunction. For those of you unfamiliar with Judge Teilborg, Molly Redden at The New Republic explains in Angry at the Arizona Abortion Ruling? Blame Democrats Too.:
At first blush, the players who facilitated the ruling—the uncompromising, rightwing governor who signed the bill; the ultra-conservative general assembly members who shepherded it to passage; and the recalcitrant judge, who was moved by his personal passions to defy well-established abortion law—exhibit a familiar scenario: Conservative dominance of the courts has, once again, thwarted a cherished Democratic objective.
But that’s only half the story. Judge James A. Teilborg, after all, was an appointee of President Bill Clinton. And the tale of how he ended up on the federal bench illustrates perfectly what can transpire in the lower courts when Senate Democrats fall asleep at the wheel.
When Clinton nominated Teilborg to the federal bench in 2000, Arizona’s courts were facing a daunting judicial backlog. To ameliorate it, Congress created three new U.S. District Court positions, and Sen. Jon Kyl recommended Teilborg to fill one of them. At the time, Teilborg was a Phoenix trial lawyer and longtime friend of Kyl’s who had given the senator $13,150 up to that time in campaign donations.
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When Teilborg's confirmation hearing inevitably came to pass, Democrats used it as an opportunity to issue furious sermons about Republican obstructionism, rather than examine the nominee. By the time Senate voted, there had been virtually no talk of his qualifications or objectives. One news account called the vote “an afterthought,” and Sen. Pat Leahy noted that Teilborg and three fellow nominees had “moved very, very, very rapidly.” He was confirmed in a vote of 95-0, becoming one of the very last nominees to join the federal bench in the Clinton era.
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To be sure, in the time since his nomination, Teilborg has served a fairly normal judgeship, sentencing folks who have been found guilty of fraud, violence, and drug trafficking.
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But there have been a few highlights (or lowlights). In 2003, as a visiting judge to a federal appeals court panel in Montana, Teilborg sided with James Bopp, the Citizens United architect, that a Montana campaign finance limit violated the First Amendment rights of a state Right to Life chapter. His fellow panel members later withdrew their opinion, effectively striking down the limit. Four years ago, Teilborg overturned a massive, $280 million jury finding against the company that owns the University of Phoenix network of for-profit colleges.
And now, he has issued a ruling which will force Arizona abortion clinics to stop providing abortions to women who may be just 18 weeks into their pregnancies—even if the fetus has developed horrible abnormalities. Whatever your thoughts on abortion, Teilborg’s decision is something of a legal travesty. As others have pointed out, it defies firmly established Supreme Court precedent that bars states from prohibiting abortions that occur before a baby is viable outside the womb. And Teilborg relied partially on the theory, not widely accepted in the medical community, that an unborn child can experience pain at 20 weeks.
And that is the reason why the injunction was issued until the case can be heard by a panel of the 9th Circuit.