On Oct. 29, Ilene Jaroslaw recounted to The Wall Street Journal the June 2015 trial she conducted with opposing counsel Mike Johnson, the new speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who fought to shut down abortion access in Louisiana.
In June Medical Services v. Russo, Ilene represented health-care providers seeking an injunction against Louisiana’s restrictive abortion laws. The U.S. District judge ruled for the health-care providers and struck down the abortion restrictions as unconstitutional. The Fifth Circuit reversed the District Court, but then the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Fifth Circuit on June 29, 2020 — the last SCOTUS decision affirming abortion rights. (Dobbs followed two years later.)
Ilene got to know Johnson during months of pretrial proceedings, depositions, and at trial. While courteous and personable in his manner, Johnson wore his anti-abortion zealotry on his sleeve.
Writes The Wall Street Journal:
“Mike Johnson was in a Louisiana courtroom in June 2015 defending tighter abortion restrictions adopted by the state when phones flashed with alerts that the Supreme Court had just recognized a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
“Johnson dashed out of the ongoing proceedings to publicly criticize the decision, said opposing counsel Ilene Jaroslaw, who was representing abortion providers in the case. It was a moment, she said, that underscored the depth of Johnson’s zeal for conservative legal causes.
“’Damn, you’re in federal court. You don’t just get up and leave,’ she said.”