Protesters rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday appeared closely divided as it considered its first major abortion case in nearly a decade, with pivotal Justice Anthony Kennedy giving little indication how he would rule in a challenge to a Texas law imposing strict regulations on clinics and abortion doctors.Kennedy, who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, at one point suggested sending the case back to a lower court for further evidence to be introduced on the law's impact, including an assessment of the ability of Texas clinics to meet the demand for abortions.A 4-4 decision would let stand a lower-court ruling that affirmed the Texas law, but no nationwide legal precedent would be set on whether other states could enact similar measures. If Kennedy, a conservative, sides with the court's four liberals, the court could either send the case back to the lower court or strike it down.Like Kennedy, Justice Samuel Alito faulted the lack of evidence on reasons for specific clinic closures, saying U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel could have been more thorough in handling the case.
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