Judge Baker predictably slaps preliminary injunction on four pro-life Arkansas laws

By Dave Andrusko

You have to say this about pro-abortion U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker. Being slapped down repeatedly by higher courts has not fazed her in the least.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported today that Baker has again put a hold on four pro-life laws — Acts 45, 1018, 733, and 603–passed overwhelmingly  by the Arkansas legislature in 2017.

Those four laws, which Judge Baker preliminarily enjoined in July 2017, banned the dismemberment of living unborn babies; prohibited sex-selective abortion; required forensic samples from abortions performed on a minor; and mandated humane disposal of the aborted baby’s remains.

Since then the 8th Circuit threw it back to her twice. Dale Ellis summarized what has happened since last August when a three judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Baker’s 2017 injunction

asking her to use a different legal standard to review any request to keep the state’s laws from taking effect. In December, the 8th Circuit declined to reconsider its decision to vacate Baker’s preliminary injunction, which cleared the way for the laws to go into effect on Dec. 22.

On Dec. 22, Baker issued a temporary restraining order blocking the laws from taking effect until Jan. 5, at which time she issued the preliminary injunction in a 253-page order that was filed at the end of the day Tuesday. The injunction is to stay in effect until further orders from the court are issued.

Of course, everybody knew Judge Baker would replace the temporary restraining order with a preliminary injunction. It was just legal gamesmanship on her part.

Ellis reported that Stephanie Sharp, a spokeswoman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said  that Rutledge was disappointed with Baker’s decision.

“Those regulations protect unborn girls from systematic discrimination, protect children from predators and sex traffickers, require the respectful treatment of human remains, and prohibit a particularly barbaric and inhumane late-term abortion practice,” Sharp said. “Just months ago, the Eighth Circuit overturned Judge Baker’s nearly identical order in this case, and we are confident that the Eighth Circuit will do so again.”

So why did the full 8th Circuit uphold the upholding the three-judge panel’s conclusion? Here is a very nice summary from Courthouse News:

In their decision reversing the district court’s injunction [Judge Baker’s] that had previously blocked the regulations, the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals cited “June Medical Services v. Russo,” the Supreme Court’s June 29 ruling striking down a Louisiana abortion restriction. Though Chief Justice Roberts sided with the court’s liberal bloc, he offered his own separate opinion. In it, he wrote that states do not have to prove that the benefits of an abortion restriction outweigh the burden on a person’s ability to access the procedure— it just has to show that it does not present a “substantial” obstacle or burden.

“Nothing about [previous Supreme Court precedent] suggested that a weighing of costs and benefits of an abortion regulation was a job for the courts,” Roberts wrote.