Professor Gillian Metzger, Other Constitutional Law Scholars, Files Brief in Abortion Rights Case
Scholars Argue that Supreme Court Should Reverse the Fifth Circuit and Hold Texas's Abortion Regulations Unconstitutional
New York, January 5, 2016—Columbia Law School’s Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG) on Jan. 4, 2016 filed an amicus brief on behalf of 16 leading constitutional law scholars in Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, the first major abortion-rights case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court in nearly a decade. The brief was written by Professor Gillian Metzger '96, CCG’s faculty director, along with Lori Alvino McGill ’03, a member of CCG’s board and an experienced Supreme Court litigator, and Professor Geoffrey Stone, the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago School of Law.
The brief argues that courts have to review abortion regulations that are justified as protecting women’s health to make sure that they aren’t merely a pretext for restricting abortion and yield real health benefits for women that justify the burdens imposed.
This brief caps off a year of intensive amicus work by CCG, and is the third Supreme Court brief CCG has filed this year. In January of 2015, Metzger and CCG co-authored an amicus brief in King v. Burwell, the major Affordable Care Act case heard by the Court last term. That brief, joined by Columbia Law School Professor Thomas Merrill among others, argued that federalism principles of statutory construction supported reading the Act to allow the government to provide tax credits for health insurance purchased on a federal exchange — the result the Court ultimately reached in the case. Metzger and CCG additionally co-wrote an amicus brief on behalf of federal courts and civil procedure professors at the certiorari stage in Whole Women’s Health, arguing that the providers’ claims were not barred by res judicata and urging the Court to grant review (as it did).
CCG also filed an amicus brief, along with Professor Robert Jackson of the Law School’ Millstein Center, in MetLife v. Financial Stability Oversight Council, a significant challenge to financial regulation in the wake of the Dodd-Frank Act. In addition, Metzger and Jackson, through CCG and the Millstein Center, have an ongoing project to challenge state poison pill laws limiting corporate takeovers as preempted by the federal Williams Act. As part of that project, in November they—along with CCG’s McGill and Lucian Bebchuk of Harvard Law School’s Program on Corporate Governance—filed an amicus brief in Horizon Pharma Inc. v. Anido, a state court challenge to a poison pill in California.
CCG’s amicus work reflects its continuing focus on issues of governmental regulation, including the constitutional framework against which regulations should be assessed. It has devoted particular attention to the relationship between administrative law and financial regulation, the subject of CCG’s 2014 annual conference, a symposium that was published in Law and Contemporary Problems, and a recent event in Washington D.C.
These amicus projects also offer important opportunities for students to gain practical experience and work closely with professors on litigation. CCG also sponsors the School’s Public Law Workshop, a student-faculty workshop which is being taught this spring by Professors Olati Johnson and David Pozen, along with Metzger. The subject of this spring’s workshop — and of CCG’s annual conference which will be held on March 25, 2016 — is “The Constitution and Economic Inequality.”