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US Supreme Court declines to take Indiana Planned Parenthood cases

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The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday denied certiorari to two cases stemming from an Indiana law disqualifying a health care provider in participating in a government program because it provides abortion care.

The U.S. justices considered Planned Parenthood of Indiana v. Secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, 12-1159; and Secretary of the Ind. FSSA v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana, 12-1039, at its conference Thursday.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in the Southern District of Indiana granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of I.C. 5-22-17-5.5(b) that bars providing state or federal funds to “any entity that performs abortions or maintains a facility where abortions are performed.” Planned Parenthood and other plaintiffs sued after the defunding law was enacted in 2011. The law prohibits abortion providers from receiving any state-administered funds, even if the money is earmarked for other services.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the injunction in October 2012.

In the case brought by Planned Parenthood, the plaintiffs wanted the Supreme Court to determine whether the law imposes an unconstitutional condition in violation of the 14th Amendment. In the suit brought by FSSA, the agency challenged the decision that Medicaid grants individual rights enforceable under U.S.C. Section 1983. The 7th Circuit ruled that the defunding law excludes Planned Parenthood from Medicaid for a reason unrelated to its fitness to provide medical services, thus violating its patients’ statutory right to obtain medical care from the qualified provider of their choice.

Proceedings had been stayed in the case brought by Planned Parenthood in federal court until a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are happy that the Supreme Court’s action lets stand the appeals court ruling that the state does not have plenary authority to exclude a class of providers for any reason. Federal law protects the right of Medicaid patients to choose a health care provider free of interference from the state,” ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Jane Henegar said in a statement. The ACLU represented the plaintiffs in the case.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller also issued a statement on the Supreme Court decision.

"My office always contended this is ultimately a dispute between the state and federal government, not between a private medical provider and the state. We defended the legal authority of the people's elected representatives in the Indiana Legislature to make a public policy decision to ensure that tax dollars not indirectly subsidize abortion services by funding the payroll and overhead expenses of abortion providers who also offer Medicaid-covered services. We respect the federal courts' rulings in this matter and will confer with our state agency clients regarding any remaining legal avenues, including the separate administrative appeal of the state's Medicaid plan,” Zoeller said.

The justices also denied certiorari to a petition brought by Michael Dean Overstreet. Overstreet was sentenced to death in 2000 for the abduction, rape and murder of Franklin College student Kelly Eckart in 1997. His convictions and sentence have been affirmed by the Indiana Supreme Court, as well as a petition for post-conviction relief.

Overstreet appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the District Court’s decision to deny his petition for writ of habeas corpus regarding his sentence.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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