Did John Roberts Save Planned Parenthood?

If a state defunds the group, can the government withhold Medicaid funds?

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Justice John Roberts and President Obama (Getty Images News)

The Huffington Post reports that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts' health care ruling raises questions about whether the federal government can withhold Medicaid dollars if a state decides to defund Planned Parenthood. If so, it could throw a wrench in the Tea Party's efforts to defund the group.

... Before Roberts' ruling, no legal scholar would have questioned whether the federal government had the authority to spend its own money or tie any strings it deemed appropriate to it. But after the ruling, it's an open question that will likely be decided in court, legal experts told The Huffington Post.

"I perceive NFIB v. Sebelius as throwing the courthouse doors open to coercion claims," said Nicole Huberfeld, a University of Kentucky law professor. "Because the holding is so dependent on the somewhat unusual facts of Medicaid, and because the court set forth no theory of coercion, I think we will see a lot of challenges in an effort to discover the contours of the coercion doctrine."

The issue raised by Roberts' opinion is whether the federal government can coerce a state into using its federal grant money in a particular way by threatening to withhold that money. For instance, if Congress voted to defund Planned Parenthood through the Title X federal family planning program, but New York wanted to continue sending its federal Title X dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics in the state, could the government withhold all Title X money from New York?

Read more at the Huffington Post.

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