FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 10, 2020) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron today led a 17-state coalition in filing an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Curtis T. Hill, Jr. v. Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. In the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ordered the State of Indiana to issue a license to a would-be provider of abortion services, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, after the state initially denied the license.
Attorney General Cameron’s brief supports Indiana’s position that a federal court cannot require a state to issue a license to an abortion provider. The brief argues that, under the U.S. Constitution, the licensing of such entities is left to the states, which are responsible for developing the laws and regulations that govern licensing.
“States should not be forced by the federal courts to issue state licenses,” said Attorney General Cameron. “The Seventh Circuit’s decision endangers our system of federalism and sets a precedent that threatens the sovereignty of states and the safety and well-being of citizens. While our federal courts may determine if the process used by a state to issue or deny a license is constitutional, we do not believe they can order a state agency to license an abortion clinic.”
The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” The power to license medical providers has long been held by states as part of their general “police power,” which includes the responsibility to protect the health, safety, and well-being of citizens.
Across the country, states regulate and license wide-ranging professions and businesses from cosmetologists to dentists to social workers. Attorney General Cameron argues that federal courts are not equipped to evaluate the ethics and qualifications of license applicants, and that the state, being closer to the people, is uniquely qualified to make such decisions.
If federal courts are allowed to overrule the states in licensing decisions, states will be unable to maintain consistent standards within professions and cannot guarantee the safety of citizens who seek services for licensed professionals. If the Seventh Circuit’s decision is upheld, women in Indiana will receive abortion services from a facility that has never been found to meet the standards required by Indiana law.
Attorney General Cameron was joined by Attorneys General from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
To view a copy of the brief, click here.