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Professor Lisa McElroy Discusses Supreme Court Rulings on Radio Times

Professor Lisa A. Tucker

July 01, 2016

As the U.S. Supreme Court ended its term, Professor Lisa McElroy offered perspectives on a string of major rulings during an interview on WHYY’s Radio Times on June 27.

Discussing the court’s 5-3 ruling to strike down parts of a Texas law that restricted abortions, McElroy explained that the court uses an unusual standard when considering abortion-related cases.

“The Supreme Court uses a standard of ‘undue burden,’” McElroy said, noting that reducing the number of clinics that could perform abortions in Texas from 40 to fewer than 10 imposed such a burden on women who sought abortions.

McElroy, who was present when Justice Stephen Breyer announced the opinion, noted that he used the phrase “right to choose” repeatedly.

Joining Penn Law School Dean Theodore Ruger on the program, McElroy also discussed other court decisions, including a unanimous ruling to overturn the criminal conviction of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell who accepted gifts from a businessman who sought favorable treatment from the state.

The judges seemed to be influenced in the ruling by numerous amicus briefs arguing that government officials would face enormous scrutiny for every action they took, McElroy said. 

“The chief justice said there’s no question that what happened here was distasteful,” she said. “The question isn’t ‘Do we dislike it?’ The question is whether we can send someone to prison.’”