Women’s Surgical Center, LLC v. Reese
Women’s Surgical Center provides state-of-the-art healthcare for women at a relatively low cost. Since 2010, Women’s Surgical has grown their practice and wants to build a second operating room and contract with additional doctors to provide more care for more Georgia women. The state’s Certificate of Need (CON) law prohibits this expansion unless the Georgia Department of Health determines that there is a “need” for such expansion. To make this decision, the Department invites competing medical practices to object to the applicant’s proposed new services and conducts a hearing to consider the objections. The applicant may not speak at the hearing to rebut arguments advanced by competitors. The Center sued under several state and federal constitutional provisions.
The Georgia Constitution offers greater protection for economic liberty than the federal constitution, expressing a policy against “defeating or lessening competition, or encouraging monopoly.” As such, Georgia courts consistently subject economic regulations to a more stringent standard of review than the “rational basis” standard applied in federal courts. PLF filed an amicus brief urging the Georgia Supreme Court to strike down the CON law because it does not achieve any benefit to the public health, safety, or general welfare, and therefore violates the state constitutional prohibition against protectionist legislation.