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Supreme Court further delays ruling on access to abortion pill

In a brief order, the Supreme Court continued to place on hold a trial judge’s ruling blocking the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medication abortions. Wednesday’s order extends the court’s “administrative stay” – i.e., a stay designed to give the justices time to consider the request – of the trial judge’s ruling until Friday at midnight. The justices are extremely likely to issue a further ruling before the administrative stay expires.

A court of appeals already put part of the trial judge’s ruling on hold. But the Biden Administration and the drug’s manufacturer asked the Supreme Court to block it entirely. That is the request now pending before the justices.

The court’s extension of its administrative stay is unusual. That suggests that exchanges are ongoing between the justices. For example, the court could be preparing its own opinion or nuanced stay order. Or one or more justices may be writing opinions supporting or dissenting from a stay ruling. 

The court has several options before it, both with respect to the stay and with how the appeal of the trial court’s ruling proceeds. Regarding the stay, the Supreme Court could entirely block the trial judge’s ruling or permit it to go forward, or adopt some middle ground as the court of appeals has. Regarding the appeal, the justices could allow the case to proceed in the court of appeals or take the case up themselves immediately.

Recommended Citation: Tom Goldstein, Supreme Court further delays ruling on access to abortion pill, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 19, 2023, 3:51 PM),