In an important, if likely temporary, victory for abortion rights, the Supreme Court took a major abortion case off its docket on Monday. The Court’s brief order does not explain the justices’ reason for doing so — it simply provides that “[t]he writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted. Nevertheless, it is likely that the justices decided that a recent Oklahoma Supreme Court decision muddied the issues presented by the case to such an extent that it made sense to wait to decide an important question regarding the ability of states to restrict the use of medication abortions.
Though the Supreme Court agreed to hear Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice earlier this year, it also asked Oklahoma’s highest court to resolve two questions regarding the scope of an Oklahoma law banning certain forms of non-surgical abortions induced by medication. Last Tuesday, Oklahoma’s justices answered these questions by explaining that the state law at issue in Cline outlaws all medication abortions — including methods of terminating a pregnancy that were specifically approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Thus, if the U.S. Supreme Court were to rule on Cline they would have to answer the much larger question of whether an abortion procedure that’s specifically been approved by the federal government can be banned by a state, rather than considering a narrower question of whether specific methods of abortion lacking FDA sanction can be targeted by states.
So it's something at least. And yes, SCOTUS would of had to rule very strongly in favor of the federal supremacy clause in the case of Cline. No way were the conservative justices going to give a victory that big to the pro-choice side, so they punt instead.
And on we go.