Handcrafted Emergency Contraception Opinion - Executive/Judicial Checks & Balances

Linda Greenhouse thinks that the opinion issued by Judge Edward R. Korman of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn in the emergency contraception case is the opinion to read this term -- above anything issued by SCOTUS.

As noted, the ruling ordered the Obama Administration to lift the age restriction on the morning after pill and make it available to anyone (including those 16 and younger) over the counter.

Even though the ramifications of the opinion are hugely important and a win for reproductive rights, it may be what lies between the lines in this opinion that is of the most significance.  Greenhouse said, "[i]f I were teaching a law school course on administrative law — the law of the juncture between citizens and the federal executive branch — I would assign this opinion as homework for the first class and then spend the rest of the semester unpacking it."

The opinion is important for the judicial checks that it places on the executive branch. "Judge Korman overturned the 2011 decision of Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services."  As noted several times throughout the opinion, Sebelius blatantly decided to keep the drug, known as Plan B, on a prescription-only basis for girls younger than 17 because of election concerns.  Plan B is often referred to as the "abortion pill" -- which is inevitably a politically unpopular name, but Judge Korman laid the foundation by defining the drug and how it works.  He showed what all of the experts knew, that Plan B does not terminate a pregnancy, it merely stops a pregnancy from ever happening.

So admin profs take note -- when discussing the checks and balances of executive and judicial branches, make sure to look to this opinion.

NYTimes -- Greenhouse 'Of Judges and Judging'

Emergency Contraception Opinion


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