Leavitt v. Jane L.

PETITIONER: Leavitt, Governor of Utah
RESPONDENT: Jane L.
LOCATION: Seminole Tribe

DOCKET NO.: 95-1242
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 518 US 137 (1996)
DECIDED: Jun 17, 1996

Facts of the case

A Utah district court held that a state statutory provision regulating early-term abortions was unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that a similar provision regulating later-term abortions should be invalidated along with the earlier-term provision. The Tenth Circuit held that the Utah Legislature would only have wanted to regulate later-term abortions if it could also regulate earlier-term abortions, and thus concluded that the provisions were not severable (i.e. separable). Utah governor Michael Leavitt appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Utah Legislature intended the two provisions to be severable.

Question

Was the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit correct to invalidate a Utah statutory provision regulating later-term abortions after a similar provision regulating earlier-term abortions was ruled unconstitutional?