The Supreme Court handed the Trump administration a victory on Monday when the justices vacated a lower court's ruling against the government's policy of not providing abortions to illegal immigrant minors in U.S. custody.
What are the details?
The American Civil Liberties Union has brought numerous lawsuits against the Trump administration on behalf of illegal immigrant teenagers seeking abortions, arguing the government is obligated to provide the young girls with the operation. The lower courts have handed victory after victory to the ALCU, which have allowed the girls to receive abortions, despite government objections.
Monday's decision, which had no dissents, remanded the case the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, according to Reuters.
The court ruled the case had become moot because the teenager in the case, known only as "Jane Doe," had already received an abortion.
The decision is a victory because it, at least temporarily, eliminates a precedent set by the lower court that allowed other illegal immigrant teenagers in Jane Doe's circumstances to receive abortions on the government dime.
The issue central to the dispute is whether the government is legally obligated to provide abortions for immigrant minors who came to the U.S. illegally and are held in federal custody, not the right to abortion, which was settled in Roe v. Wade.
Instead, the Trump administration maintains illegal immigrant minors should return to their home countries or be released to a U.S. sponsor to receive an abortion.
"Under this court’s case law, the government may adopt policies favoring life over abortion. It is not obligated to facilitate abortion, and the government acts permissibly when it does not place an undue burden in a woman’s path," U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco said in court papers, according to USA Today.
Why didn't SCOTUS rule on the case's merits?
While the high court did not rule on the case's merit this time around, it likely will in the future since the ALCU will almost certainly submit similar lawsuits.
However, the Supreme Court may have ruled on the case's merit, but was robbed of the opportunity when ACLU lawyers lied to the Justice Department about Doe's abortion date. If they had been honest, the Supreme Court could have granted an expedited review of the case.