In orders released this afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court added two controversial cases to this term’s docket, agreeing to hear a case out of Texas concerning a requirement that abortion physicians have hospital admitting privileges and a case out of Virginia concerning the redistricting of one of the state’s congressional districts.
The Texas case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, marks the high court’s first foray into an abortion controversy since 2007, when the justices in a 5-4 decision upheld a ban on “partial-birth abortions.”
The New York Times summarizes the issue in Cole here:
The case concerns two parts of a state law that imposes strict requirements on abortion providers. It was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature and signed into law in July 2013 by Rick Perry, the governor at the time.One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for “ambulatory surgical centers,” including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
The Virginia case, Wittman v. Personhuballah, involves the one congressional district in the state that has a majority-black population. The question is whether race was used unconstitutionally in shaping that district’s lines. Although granting review, the court left open the possibility that the case might be dismissed on procedural grounds, asking for briefing on the question of whether plaintiffs had standing to bring the case in the first instance since none resided in or represented the subject district.