On February 22, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear _American Medical Association v. Cochran_. The case concerns whether the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and federal healthcare laws when it issued a 2019 rule that placed abortion-related restrictions on healthcare providers receiving federal funds under a Title X family planning program.
The American Medical Association, other Title X providers, and several states sued, arguing that the HHS rule failed the arbitrary-or-capricious test that comes from the APA and that the courts should block it from going into effect. That test instructs courts reviewing agency actions to invalidate any that they find to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”
After the cases made their way through the federal court system, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the HHS rule and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the HHS rule was invalid.
HHS defended the rule in its petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case, arguing that the rule was based on an almost identical rule that the court upheld in _Rust v. Sullivan_ (1991).
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to schedule oral argument in the case during its October 2021-2022 term. However, Adam Liptak, writing for _The New York Times_, argued that the case might become moot before the court makes a decision. President Joe Biden (D) has said his administration is reconsidering the HHS Title X rule. If HHS reverses the rule, there may no longer be a live case for the court to resolve.
The case was consolidated with _Oregon v. Cochran_ and _Cochran v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore_, which also challenged the HHS rule.
To learn more about the case or the Administrative Procedure Act see here:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Final rule
- Judicial review
- Arbitrary-or-capricious test
- Administrative state
HHS petition for a writ of certiorari: