SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined an amicus brief, led by the State of Indiana, to the Supreme Court of the United States in Idaho v. United States. The case involves an effort by the federal government to “prevent hospitals receiving Medicare funds in Idaho from complying with Idaho’s abortion regulations.”
The federal government is attempting to use the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) to override Idaho’s lawfully enacted policies and regulations governing access to abortion. Congress passed EMTALA under its Spending Clause authority to promote the “stabilization of patients with emergency medical conditions” in “hospitals accepting Medicaid funds.” The federal government argues that EMTALA preempts enforcement of Idaho’s abortion law for hospitals that accept Medicaid. The coalition of attorneys general supporting the State of Idaho believe that this claim, if accepted by courts, would set a dangerous precedent that gives federal bureaucrats and private parties authority to disregard state health laws.
In their brief, the coalition of attorneys general argue that “EMTALA does not preempt generally applicable state laws regulating the medical profession, including laws protecting unborn lives,” that “the United States’ expansive preemption theory raises significant Constitutional difficulties of great importance to the States,” and that “the United States lacks a cause of action to sue States to enforce conditions of federal grants to non-state entities.”
As the States write, “In the United States’ view, the federal government can pay hospitals to violate Idaho’s abortion laws with impunity – and then itself sue the State of Idaho to enjoin those laws as a matter of federal supremacy. Or put another way, the United States believes that the federal government can establish a financial relationship directly with a citizen that, at the citizen’s election, immunizes the citizen from state police power.”
Joining Utah and Indiana on this brief were the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.