Two groups that challenged four 2017 laws restricting abortion in Arkansas on Friday asked the full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in St. Louis to reconsider a recent three-judge panel's dissolution of an order that blocked the laws from taking effect.
On Aug. 7, a three-judge panel of the appellate court dissolved an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker of Little Rock and remanded the case back to her with instructions to reevaluate the laws' constitutionality using a different method than the one she used.
The panel consisted of Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Lavenski Smith of Little Rock and U.S. circuit Judges Roger Wollman of Sioux Falls, S.D., and L. Steven Grasz of Omaha, Neb., who cited a June opinion issued by Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court to support using a different method of evaluation.
The laws in question, which remain blocked for now, are Act 45, which bans a common second-trimester abortion procedure, dilation and evacuation; Act 1018, which requires doctors to notify law enforcement when anyone 16 or younger obtains an abortion; Act 733, which requires doctors to review a woman's medical records if she knows the sex of the fetus she is seeking to abort, to ensure she isn't using abortion as a means of sex selection; and Act 603, which regulates the disposal of abortion remains, which opponents say could allow family members to effectively block an abortion.
The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the national Center for Reproductive Choice jointly sued to keep the laws from being enforced.
In a motion filed Friday asking the full court to rehear the matter and override the panel, the plaintiffs argued that the panel erroneously found that Roberts' lone opinion, issued in support of the majority's ruling in a Louisiana abortion case but applying different reasoning, overruled requirements established in an earlier case.
"A single Justice's commentary cannot rewrite a Supreme Court precedent," the plaintiffs argued.
There are 15 judges on the 8th Circuit.