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Wednesday, April 18, 2007 

The Difference That One Vote Makes

Unless you're under a rock, you've probably heard that the Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on partial birth abortions today. It was a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy (Hey, I was right for once!).

The heart of the opinion is this...
The principles set forth in the joint opinion in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992), did not find support from all those who join the instant opinion. See id., at 979–1002 (SCALIA, J., joined by THOMAS, J., inter alios, concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Whatever one’s views concerning the Casey joint opinion, it is evident a premise central to its conclusion —that the government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life —would be repudiated were the Court now to affirm the judgments of the Courts of Appeals.
Emphasis added. Basically, Kennedy is saying that the Stenberg v Carhart majority read Casey wrong, and he's gonna fix it dammit. Anyone who thinks this decision means that Kennedy flipped on abortion is quite wrong (I've seen some message board commentary saying that already). Kennedy is wed to his part in the Casey opinion. He thinks it's still workable and goes through the analysis here.

I have to run down to school right now, but I'll have much more to say about this opinion. The concurring opinion is full of interesting points of speculation. More to come.

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