Ninth Circuit Hears Oral Arguments On Lawsuit Against Genetic Defects Abortion Ban

Ninth Circuit Hears Oral Arguments On Lawsuit Against Genetic Defects Abortion Ban

By Corinne Murdock |

On Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a lawsuit arguing against the state’s ban on abortions solely for genetic defects.

In the case, Isaacson v. Mayes, pro-abortion doctors and groups appealed the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction against Arizona’s ban on abortions based on genetic defects.

The legislature passed the ban, SB 1457, back in 2021. 

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the ban are abortionists Paul Isaacson and Eric Reuss, along with the National Council of Jewish Women, Arizona National Organization For Women, and Arizona Medical Association. 

Isaacson was a Phoenix-based abortionist with Family Planning Associates. Reuss was a Scottsdale-based OBGYN and former board member for Planned Parenthood of Arizona. 

Judges Roopali Desai, Ronald Gould, and Andrew Hurwitz heard the oral arguments. While Desai and Hurwitz were engaged in the arguments with their questions, Gould hardly spoke except to request an adjustment of the livestream audio. 

In March, House Speaker Ben Toma (R-LD27) and Senate President Warren Petersen (R-LD14) stepped up to defend the ban after Attorney General Kris Mayes said she would refuse to enforce the law. Mayes is acting as the defense in the lawsuit currently. 

During Monday’s oral arguments, the main question at hand was whether the plaintiffs had Article III standing. Article III of the Constitution, as held by the Supreme Court, requires plaintiffs to prove an actual or imminent alleged injury that is concrete and particularized. 

Jessica Sklarsky with the Center for Reproductive Rights argued on behalf of the plaintiffs that they suffer undisputed economic harms and threat of prosecution due to the abortion ban. The district court determined that the plaintiffs failed to meet the standard set by the 2014 Supreme Court case Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, which determined that pre-enforcement challenges satisfy the Article III standard and are justiciable when a statute’s enforcement is sufficiently imminent.

Sklarksy also argued that the abortion ban qualified as a vague law, and therefore violated due process rights.

“Vague laws force those they govern to either avoid doing anything that is arguably covered by the law, or to engage in that conduct with the constant threat of arbitrary enforcement,” said Sklarsky.

Denise Harle with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), counsel on behalf of Toma and Petersen, countered that no Article III injury exists due to the lack of a credible threat of enforcement. 

Harle pointed out that all 15 county attorneys have acceded their authority to Mayes, and that Mayes has disavowed enforcement of abortion law. Harle also pointed out Gov. Katie Hobbs’ executive order in June usurping all county attorneys’ authority on abortion law and conferring it to Mayes. 

Hurwitz and Desai pushed back against Harle’s reference to Mayes and Hobbs’ conduct, arguing that Mayes didn’t issue a disclaimer in this case specifically detailing her intent to not enforce the law. 

Hurwitz indicated that Toma and Petersen’s support of the law, as well as the private enforcement aspect of the law, indicated a credible threat of enforcement.

“Does the law really require that a credible threat be communicated? If the state of Arizona passes a statute and the two leaders of the legislature are here defending its constitutionality, isn’t that enough to show there is a credible not a certain but a credible threat of enforcement?” asked Hurwitz.

Harle disagreed, saying the potential for private enforcement constituted a hypothetical. She alluded to the arrangement by Hobbs and Mayes to not enforce abortion law. 

“[T]he theoretical possibility of an injury sometime in the future is too conjectural when it’s not imminent,” said Harle. 

Desai followed up by stating that the court’s decision in Tingley v. Ferguson could apply to this case. In that case, a family counselor challenged the state of Washington’s ban on conversion therapy as a violation of free speech and religious practice. Harle responded that the existence of a law alone wasn’t sufficient for direct injury.

“Virtually anyone could look at a law, say ‘I’m not sure what that means, I’m going to do something or not do something’ [and] that would be enough for a federal court to weigh in and adjudicate the merits of that claim on a facial challenge,” said Harle. 

Watch the full hearing here:

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

House Defends Arizona Laws And Unborn

House Defends Arizona Laws And Unborn

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizonans used to a proactive Attorney General defending the state’s laws have had to readjust their expectations due to the political transfer of power in January.

During the first two years of the Biden Administration, Arizona was at the forefront of many of the political and legal battles sweeping the nation, in large part due to then-Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s defense of federalism and state laws. The Brnovich-led Arizona Attorney General’s Office took a leading and proactive role in dozens of lawsuits to push back against the federal government’s overreach and to enforce the laws the state legislature passed.

This changed once the new Attorney General Kris Mayes assumed the reins of the state’s top law enforcement agency. Mayes, a Democrat, has quickly abandoned some of the lawsuits initiated or joined by her predecessor or her office has slowed action on other cases.

The abrupt change in litigation policy from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office has forced the Republican-led Arizona Legislature into a central role when it comes to defending the Grand Canyon State’s laws and values. Both the State Senate and House have worked in tandem to assume the guardianship of key cases that have lost adequate representation since January.

On Thursday, the Arizona House of Representatives Majority Communications issued a release to update the public on “successful intervention(s) in cases to defend state laws and fight against federal overreach.” The announcement highlighted that “Members of the Arizona House of Representatives of the 56th Legislature have been in office less than four months but have already achieved major court victories, under Speaker Toma’s leadership and united with the State Senate.”

The House Majority celebrated four victories: Mi Familia Vota v. Fontes et al. – an Election Integrity case; 56th Legislature et al. v. Biden et al. ­– an intervention to protect “Arizona’s Sovereign Authority Against Federal Overreach”; Kentch et al. v. Mayes – an Election Contest case; Isaacson v. Mayes – aDefense of Law Protecting Unborn Children with Disabilities.”

For the benefit of readers, the press release provided detailed commentary on each of the cases to allow for a greater understanding and appreciation of the Legislature’s efforts:

Mi Familia Vota v. Fontes et al.: “On April 26,a federal court granted Speaker Toma’s and President Petersen’s motion to intervene to defend Arizona laws that require proof of citizenship and proof of residence in the state when registering to vote and require the county recorder to review the voter rolls. When Speaker Toma and President Petersen realized the state’s interests would not be adequately protected in this case, they immediately sought intervention.”

56th Legislature et al. v. Biden et al.: ­On April 25, the Legislature and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce filed an emergency application with the United States Supreme Court challenging President Biden’s executive order that unconstitutionally infringes on Arizonans’ medical freedoms by forcing federal contractors to receive the experimental COVID-19 vaccine or risk losing their jobs. The Legislature successfully intervened in the 9th Circuit after Arizona Attorney General Mayes stated she would not fully defend the injunction of Biden’s vaccine mandate that her predecessor secured to protect all Arizonans.”

Kentch et al. v. Mayes:On April 11, the Mohave County Superior Court granted Speaker Toma’s and President Petersen’s motion to submit an amicus brief. This brief encourages the court to fully consider Abe Hamadeh’s motion for new trial, scheduled for oral argument on May 16, consistent with Arizona laws governing election contests.”

Isaacson v. Mayes: “On March 8, a federal court granted Speaker Toma’s and President Petersen’s motion to intervene to defend a law that prohibits abortions based solely on a child’s genetic abnormality after Arizona Attorney General Mayes stated she would not defend the law.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.