Chief Justice John Roberts has been ruling with liberal justices in recent abortion cases, including a Monday opinion striking down a Louisiana law that requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
The ruling was a blow to the pro-life community, and was celebrated by pro-choice advocates, but The Daily Caller notes that a footnote in Roberts' opinion has some abortion advocates concerned.
In that footnote, Roberts says, "I agree with JUSTICE ALITO that the validity of admitting privileges laws 'depend[s] on numerous factors that may differ from State to State.'"
Such language could open the door to different rulings in different states, pro-choice advocates fear.
Julie Rikelman, who successfully argued against Louisiana's law before the Supreme Court for the Center for Reproductive Rights said that the footnote language was "obviously concerning for us."
"Roberts clearly did say that this law is unconstitutional, that it imposes an undue burden to abortion access in Louisiana," Rikelman told CNN. "What the other parts of the opinion will mean will play out in the coming years. We think the opinion did muddy the waters a bit, and so will lead to more litigation rather than less."
The ruling delivered a defeat to anti-abortion activists, but President Donald Trump's reelection campaign quickly invoked it as part of a new appeal to voters — signaling its power to motivate religious conservatives who are a key part of his base ahead of November's election.
Vice President Mike Pence summed up that argument, tweeting that the Supreme Court's decision made one thing clear: "We need more Conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court." Underlining his case, Pence added "#FourMoreYears."
Top pro-Trump religious conservatives noted pointedly that both justices he named to the high court dissented from Monday's decision, aligning with Pence in making the case that Trump should get another term in office to potentially tap more conservative nominees.
The Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and a member of Trump's Catholic voter outreach effort, said the president's "two appointees voted the right way" in supporting Louisiana's ability to require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
"Once again this ruling underscores the importance of elections," Pavone said in a statement. "We need a solid pro-life majority on the Supreme Court to uphold the rights of women and the unborn."
Johnnie Moore, an evangelical adviser to the Trump administration, said the decision could help motivate anti-abortion activists to vote to reelect the president.
"Conservatives know they are on the one-yard-line," Moore tweeted. "Enthusiasm is already unprecedented, evangelical turnout will be too."
O. Carter Snead, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, said in a statement that Roberts' positioning in the decision was "cold comfort" on an otherwise "sad day."
Support for rescinding Roe remains strong among evangelical Protestants. Sixty-one percent of them said they wanted to see the court fully overturn the decision in a survey conducted last year by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. That survey found support for overturning Roe at 28% among Catholics and 42% among Protestants generally.
The court's abortion ruling on Monday follows its 6-3 decision earlier this month that found a central provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shields LGBT people from employment discrimination. Religious conservatives also openly lamented that decision, while noting that potential faith-based exemptions could be carved out.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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