Wednesday, April 18, 2007
We Take Judicial Notice . . .
From today's opinion (pp. 28-29):
Here is the entire syllabus summary from which Professor Lederman's passage comes. This passage appears to be part of an open invitation to enact laws requiring abortionists to disclose the details of how he or she proposes to kill the unborn child (or in Kennedy's words, the "living fetus").
3. The Act, measured by its text in this facial attack, does not impose a substantial obstacle to late-term, but previability, abortions, as prohibited by the Casey plurality, 505 U. S., at 878. Pp. 26ñ37.
(a) The contention that the Act's congressional purpose was to create such an obstacle is rejected. The Actís stated purposes are protecting innocent human life from a brutal and inhumane procedure and protecting the medical community's ethics and reputation. The government undoubtedly has an interest in protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession. Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 731. Moreover, Casey reaffirmed that the government may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman. See, e.g., 505 U. S., at 873. The Act's ban on abortions involving partial delivery of a living fetus furthers the Governmentís objectives. Congress determined that such abortions are similar to the killing of a newborn infant. This Court has confirmed the validity of drawing boundaries to prevent practices that extinguish life and are close to actions that are condemned. Glucksberg, supra, at 732-735, and n. 23. The Act also recognizes that respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in a motherís love for her child. Whether to have an abortion requires a
difficult and painful moral decision, Casey, 505 U. S., at 852-853, which some women come to regret. In a decision so fraught with emotional consequence, some doctors may prefer not to disclose precise details of the abortion procedure to be used. It is, however, precisely this lack of information that is of legitimate concern to the State. Id., at 873. The Stateís interest in respect for life is advanced by the dialogue that better informs the political and legal systems, the medical profession, expectant mothers, and society as a whole of the consequences that follow from a decision to elect a late-term abortion. The objection that the Act accomplishes little because the standard D&E is in some respects as brutal, if not more, than intact D&E, is unpersuasive. It was reasonable for Congress to think that partial-birth abortion, more than standard D&E, undermines the public's perception of the doctorís appropriate role during delivery, and perverts the birth process. Pp. 26-30.
It appears that Gonzales has eliminated a requirement that abortion regulations have a health of the mother exception in order to survive a facial challenge so long as there is dispute in the medical community as to whether the regulated abortion method is required to preserve the health of the mother.
That probably leaves open the question of whether health of the mother can be a legal defense if the abortionist uses "intact D&E" to kill the "living fetus" and is then prosecuted.
Even so, this is an enormous change because the requirement of a health exception which was determined by the abortionist essentially legalized abortion on demand through the entire term of the pregnancy so long as the abortionist considered birth to be a danger to the health of the mother.
Kennedy does not shy away from describing standard and intact D&E's in all their gruesome detail over pages 3-9 of the opinion.
It is often a fool's errand to guess where a Justice may stand on future issues which may come before the Court, but Kennedy is obviously appalled by the entire D&E procedure of literally ripping unborn children apart.
Kennedy may be a possible vote to seriously restrict Roe or even reverse it.
I disagree with you that Kennedy might be a vote to overturn Roe v Wade or Casey. He had the opportunity vote that way in Casey.
Kennedy's modus operandi seems to be this very Catholic type of paternalism. He gets appalled in a very self-righteous kind of way. I think it's very apparent in Hill v Colorado (2000) (free speech case where Colorado prohibited certain types of speech within [x] yards of abortion clinics) where he wrote, dissenting:
"The Court’s holding contradicts more than a half century of well-established First Amendment principles. For the first time, the Court approves a law which bars a private citizen from passing a message, in a peaceful manner and on a profound moral issue, to a fellow citizen on a public sidewalk."
Kennedy views abortion as a "profound moral issue", and I think from his opinions we can see him grappling with it. I don't think he's come to a resolution on it, but I think his sense of, for lack of a better word again, paternalism makes him revile some of the more "gruesome" abortion methods.
Even if Kennedy did vote to overturn Roe. I doubt such a situation would happen anytime in the near or intermediate future. As noted elsewhere, Scalia and Thomas had concurrence that expressed their view that Roe was wrongly decided (conspicuously absent was whether Roe should be overturned--stare decises issues).
I just doubt that even if five justices were inclined to overturn Roe that they would actually do so. I'd bet they would duck the issue or find some procedural grounds for avoiding the specific issue of overturning Roe. The social impact of such a decision would be enormouse. Surely, they will chip away as much as possible. But the basic idea of abortion as a Constitutionally guaranteed right (with restrictions, perhaps substantial) is a long way from being overturned.
Another interesting initial take from reading the opinion is that Kennedy is only assuming and not deciding that Casey applies. It appears that Kennedy is distancing himself from O'Connor's opinion and is keeping his options open in the future.
"Bart" DePalma is ignerrent:
Kennedy is obviously appalled by the entire D&E procedure of literally ripping unborn children apart.
No, "Bart". That's D&C. Which wasn't banned.
I'll leave aside your "framing" effort here in your description of the foetuses as "unborn children".
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