Case: Burns v. Cline

CV-2015-2050 | Oklahoma state trial court

Filed Date: Nov. 3, 2015

Case Ongoing

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Case Summary

On November 3, 2015, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of an Oklahoma physician who had been practicing safe abortion care, against the Oklahoma Commissioner of Health and the District Attorney for Cleveland, Garvin and McClain counties. The lawsuit challenged S.B. 642, which imposed four different sets of requirements or restrictions on abortion providers in Oklahoma, including: A prohibition on aiding, abetting, or assisting a minor in obtaining an abortion without…

On November 3, 2015, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of an Oklahoma physician who had been practicing safe abortion care, against the Oklahoma Commissioner of Health and the District Attorney for Cleveland, Garvin and McClain counties. The lawsuit challenged S.B. 642, which imposed four different sets of requirements or restrictions on abortion providers in Oklahoma, including:

  • A prohibition on aiding, abetting, or assisting a minor in obtaining an abortion without parental consent.
  • A requirement that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation collect fetal tissue recovered from an abortion performed on a minor under the age of fourteen for purposes of a rape investigation.
  • A new statutory scheme for the licensing and inspection of abortion facilities.
  • A provision that anyone who violated the Act or certain other abortion provisions would be guilty of a felony.

The plaintiff, who filed this challenge in the District Court of Oklahoma Country (a state trial court), argued that the law violated the Oklahoma Constitution’s single-subject rule. The plaintiff sought (1) a declaratory judgment stating that S.B. 642 violates the Oklahoma Constitution and is void and of no effect, (2) permanent injunctive relief prohibiting the state from enforcing S.B. 642, and (3) attorney’s fees and costs. This case was assigned to Judge Thomas E. Prince.

Prior to this suit being filed, on September 25, 2015, the plaintiff filed an application to assume original jurisdiction and a petition for declaratory and injunctive relief in the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma. SC#114312. On October 26, 2015, the Oklahoma Supreme Court assumed original jurisdiction and stayed enforcement of S.B. 642 as litigation proceeded in trial court.

On January 13, 2016, the trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment and found that there was no genuine issue of material fact. The court reasoned that the purpose of each of the four sections of S.B. 642 were germane to the bill’s title and were relative and cognate to one another. The plaintiff then appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma on February 5, 2016. SC#114679.

On October 4, 2016, the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma reversed the decision of the trial court and held that S.B. 642 was unconstitutional and violated the single-subject rule of Article 5, Section 57 of the Oklahoma Constitution. 382 P.3d 1048. Specifically, the court found that the four sections of the legislation were so unrelated and misleading that a legislator voting on the matter could have been left with an all-or-nothing choice, which is what the single-subject requirement is intended to prevent. The Supreme Court of Oklahoma deemed S.B. 642 unconstitutional and void, and the trial court entered a remanded judgment stating as such. As a result, the stay of S.B. 642 previously issued by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in SC#114312 was converted to a permanent injunction of the Act.

Summary Authors

Kathleen Lok (1/17/2023)

People


Judge(s)

Stinson, Sheila (Oklahoma)

Attorney for Plaintiff

PATTON, J Blake (Oklahoma)

Attorney for Defendant

Robertson, James (Oklahoma)

Attorney for Plaintiff
Attorney for Defendant

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

CV-2015-2050

Docket

Sept. 5, 2021

Sept. 5, 2021

Docket

No. 114,312

Application to Assume Original Jurisdiction and Petition for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Oklahoma state supreme court

Sept. 25, 2015

Sept. 25, 2015

Pleading / Motion / Brief

No. 114,312

Order

Oklahoma state supreme court

Oct. 26, 2015

Oct. 26, 2015

Order/Opinion

CV-2015-2050

Petition

Nov. 3, 2015

Nov. 3, 2015

Complaint

CV-2015-2050

Order Granting Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment

Jan. 13, 2016

Jan. 13, 2016

Order/Opinion

CV-2015-2050

No. 114,679

Mandate

Oklahoma state supreme court

Nov. 3, 2016

Nov. 3, 2016

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 1:29 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Oklahoma

Case Type(s):

Reproductive Issues

Key Dates

Filing Date: Nov. 3, 2015

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiff is a physician providing abortion care in Oklahoma.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Center for Reproductive Rights

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Commissioner of Health, State

District Attorney (Garvin), County

District Attorney (Cleveland), County

District Attorney (McClain), County

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Order Duration: 2015 - None

Issues

Reproductive rights:

Abortion

Criminalization

Disposal procedures

Licensing restriction

Parental notification

Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)

Undue Burden