4th U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS – Though state lawmakers have not been able to advance a ‘Hear Beat Bill’ filed by Rep. Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort), and Democrats successfully upheld Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the ‘Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act,’ previous legislatures were able to pass into law a ban on abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy. Unfortunately, though, the law protecting the lives of unborn children halfway through a pregnancy was challenged by abortion advocates and ruled against in federal courts. Hope is not lost, however, as officials with the N.C. Department of Justice (NCDOJ) are appealing the ruling in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The NCDOJ is led by Attorney General Josh Stein (D), a quite liberal abortion advocate. While Stein, and Cooper before him, have too often let politics how honestly they defend the state in court, Stein has handed the case off to career attorneys at NCDOJ to pursue an appeal.
From the AP:
“The department filed the notice after conferring with Republicans leading the General Assembly, which approved the challenged law. Department lawyers represent the state in legal actions.
Stein publicly criticized recent laws in states to restrict abortion, as well as attempts by President Donald Trump’s administration to impose additional hurdles for women seeking abortions.
“In this hostile environment, it is critical for those who support women’s freedoms to speak out,” Stein said in a news release. “I intend to do so, and for that reason, I am unwilling to participate in the appeal of the ruling that struck down the current version of the North Carolina abortion statute.””
Not that pro-life advocates would necessarily want the defense of the ban to be carried out in half-hearted fashion by AG Stein, but it is remarkable how political the position of the State’s top lawyer has become. As mentioned above, the department lawyers — nay the entire department and especially the attorney general — are duty-bound to represent the state with a robust defense in legal matters. That means defending the laws enacted by the legislature and the will of the people by extension. Instead the partisan AG can pick and choose when to perform this duty and when not to, kind of like when Stein chose to withdraw the state from federal appeals action related to voter ID laws against the objections of the General Assembly.
Lucky for those with an interest in protecting unborn children, the appeal of this court ruling could lead to restoring a 20-week abortion ban in the Old North State. The appeal was filed Monday, just hours before the window for appeal closed. Hopefully the NCDOJ lawyers who have taken on the case are well-equipped, and sufficiently motivated, to argue the case and defend the State of North Carolina.