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Tennesseans listen as Supreme Court hears Kentucky abortion case

Supreme Court
Posted at 9:53 PM, Oct 12, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennesseans paid close attention to arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, surrounding an abortion law in Kentucky.

Those on either side of the abortion debate in both Kentucky and Tennessee were trying to read the tea leaves based on Tuesday's arguments about how the high court may decide future abortion cases, including one potentially involving Tennessee's abortion law.

Tennessee's fetal heartbeat abortion bill has been temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court, meaning Tennessee's law could eventually wind up before the same group of justices.

Debate on Tuesday at the Supreme Court surrounded a Kentucky law that bans a specific second trimester abortion method. But the case wasn't on the law itself — instead, it focused on whether Kentucky's elected Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron could fight against the law in court, after the state's Democratic Governor Andy Beshear already said the state would not.

In a first for the U.S. Supreme Court this term, the public is now allowed to hear arguments from inside the courtroom, broadcast in a livestream as they happen.

In the Kentucky case, even those generally described as the court's liberals seemed to be suggesting Cameron should get a chance to argue the case in court.

"There've been a lot of party changes; first Republicans are in, now Democrats are in, they have different views of an abortion statute," said Justice Stephen Breyer. "Why can't he just come in and defend the law?"

"That creates the problem here, which is there's nobody left defending the state's law," said Justice Elena Kagan.

The court still has to issue its formal opinion on Tuesday's case, which may leave plenty in Tennessee wondering if that ruling may signal how the justices could rule on abortion cases to come.