Planned Parenthood got some good news from the Supreme Court on Monday, as new Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the court's more liberal judges—as did Chief Justice John Roberts—in deciding not to hear a case involving the group. The upshot is that state court rulings will remain in place; those rulings allow Planned Parenthood to contest laws in Louisiana and Kansas to defund the organization. If either Kavanaugh or Roberts had joined conservative justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch, the court would have taken up the case, turning it into the first major abortion test of the new court, reports Politico. Lawmakers in the two states sought to deny public funding to Planned Parenthood because the group provides abortions.
However, federal law already prohibits Medicaid funds from being used for abortions, notes NPR. In his dissent, Thomas blasted the decision. "What explains the Court's refusal to do its job here?" he wrote. "I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named Planned Parenthood." He contended that the cases at hand "are not about abortion rights" but "about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act," per CNN. Still, USA Today sees the court's move as a setback for conservative interest groups who have been pushing for action on Planned Parenthood over the issue of abortion. (Abortion rights groups won a reprieve in Iowa earlier this year.)