ACLJ Files Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court To Reverse Injunction Blocking Idaho's Pro-Life Law After Biden DOJ Ignores Dobbs To Attack State Abortion Ban


Laura Hernandez

March 12

4 min read

Pro Life



Last week, in Mike Moyle and Idaho v. United States, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States supporting Idaho’s Defense of Life Act. As we explained here, Idaho’s pro-life law provides that “[e]very person who performs or attempts to perform an abortion . . . commits the crime of criminal abortion.” The law imposes penalties of two to five years’ imprisonment and license suspension for medical professionals who perform or assist in performing the abortion. The law includes exceptions for rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overruling Roe v. Wade, the states once again have the authority to enact pro-life laws. As we told you earlier, the Biden Administration strongly opposes any and every pro-life state law. It was no surprise then that before the ink on the pages of the Dobbs opinion was dry, the Biden Administration swung into action to thwart state laws protecting life. One such action was a lawsuit against Idaho. The Department of Justice claimed that Idaho’s abortion ban conflicts with a federal law requiring hospitals that receive Medicare funding to administer emergency care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. The law is called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). EMTALA’s sole purpose is to ensure that everyone who goes to an emergency room gets the health care they need regardless of whether they have health insurance. The law says nothing about abortion, but it does require hospitals to give pregnant mothers care that “stabiliz[es] . . . the unborn child.”

Over the course of about 18 months, there was a flurry of activity in the case, resulting in 1) The district court judge’s injunction of Idaho’s law; 2) a panel of the Ninth Circuit vacating that injunction; and 3) the full Ninth Circuit vacating the panel’s decision and reinstating the injunction. Then in early January 2024, the United States Supreme Court granted a stay of the district court’s injunction and review on the merits. Signaling the importance of this case, the Court also ordered an expedited briefing schedule so that the case could be argued this term. Oral argument will be held on April 24th.

In the ACLJ’s brief, we argued that the district court lacked the power to enjoin Idaho’s Defense of Life Act. “The [Biden Administration] sought, and the district court exercised, an unbridled equitable power that strikes at the heart of federalism and separation of powers.” We explained that the district court’s injunction “trespassed on the state’s legislative power to regulate the practice of medicine, a traditional police power reserved to Idaho under the Constitution, and expressly not preempted by EMTALA.” Our brief concluded that the Biden Administration’s attempt to coerce the states into adopting pro-abortion policy must fail:

Displeased with Dobbs’s return of the abortion issue to the states, the Executive Branch again skipped Congress, resorting this time to the equitable powers of the federal judiciary. The Executive Branch haled Idaho into federal court on the grounds that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) preempted Idaho’s Defense of Life Act. The district court acquiesced without ever considering if doing so was within its equitable powers. It was not. The historic limitations on the federal judiciary’s equitable power exist precisely to prevent such brazen attempts at “government by lawsuit.” Robert H. Jackson, The Struggle for Judicial Supremacy 286-87 (1st ed. 1941).

With your ongoing support, we have stood with the state of Idaho every step of the way and will continue to defend state laws defending the life of the unborn.