23 states file Supreme Court brief in support of Kentucky AG's abortion law fight

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case

FIRST ON FOX: 23 states have filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the Kentucky Republican attorney general’s effort to defend an anti-abortion law, after the high court agreed to hear the case.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron is seeking to defend a 2018 law that limited a procedure known as dilation and evacuation and was struck down in 2019. 


A federal judge ruled that it would create a "substantial obstacle" to a woman’s right to an abortion. The law had been challenged by the state’s only abortion clinic after it was signed by then-Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican

However, the state’s new Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear declined to defend the law, and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Cameron, a Republican, could not defend it on appeal. The Supreme Court announced in March that it would hear the case and decide if Cameron could defend the law.

Cameron’s office has described the procedure as a "gruesome live dismemberment abortion procedure" that involves "tearing the unborn child apart, in the womb, while he or she is still alive." Opponents of the law have described it as a common second trimester procedure.

"This law reflects the conscience of Kentucky by banning the gruesome practice of live dismemberment abortions, and it’s important that Kentuckians have a voice before our nation’s highest court," Cameron said in a statement in March. "I was elected to provide that voice, and we look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court."

In their amicus brief in support of Cameron, the states allege that the 6th Circuit Court’s decision to deny Cameron’s motion to intervene was an abuse of discretion. The states are led by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

"By a 2-1 vote, a Sixth Circuit panel allowed the unilateral capitulation of a single official to be the final word on whether a fully enacted law would be invalidated (and thus de facto repealed)," the brief says. "It did so even though Kentucky’s attorney general, who has unquestioned authority to represent Kentucky in federal court, timely sought to defend the statute on the merits."


They argue that the the court’s decision must be reversed, and claim that their states have an interest in such a decision.

"States have a compelling and indisputable sovereign interest in defending the constitutionality of their laws when challenged in federal court," they argue.

"The Court should reverse the denial of intervention and hold that it is an abuse of discretion to deny intervention promptly sought by a duly authorized agent of the states, when a state law is challenged and the named parties decline to continue defending the law at any stage in the litigation," they said.


The states filing the brief are Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

"Our office has stepped in several times over the last year to defend state and federal laws and rules when the named parties refused to," Arizona AG Brnovich told Fox News. "I am proud to lead this coalition of 23 attorneys general who will uphold the rule of law regardless of political pressure."

The brief is one of a number filed by coalitions of Republican states. Recently, another coalition, also led by Brnovich, backed a challenge to California’s assault rifle ban, claiming that it is in violation of the Second Amendment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.