As Pamela noted below, the Supremes handed down a victory today to the anti-abortion wackos, ruling 5-4 in Gonzalez v. Carhart (2007) that the federal law banning “partial birth abortions” is constitutional.
I just wanted to add one other variable, a religious one, to the glaring fact that the five justices in the majority are all men: and that is they are all Catholic men.
It pains me, as a Catholic, to have to bring this up, but as anyone who knows Catholicism and its stance on abortion will tell you, one can’t be a member in good standing with the church (as the five justices are) and support (or vote for) anything the church deems “anti-life”. And in the case of the so-called “partial birth” procedure, the Church has been emphatic on its marching orders to its members.
It also pains me, as someone who is trained to read the Constitution and Supreme Court opinions for a living, to have to bring up such a subjective angle as the obviousness of the five justice’s religious preference. But I also understand that all sorts of things effect the way one reads the Constitution, including religious (or lack thereof) beliefs, and to pretend their Catholicism played no role in a legal decision about a topic the Church is very clear about is to deny the obvious, in my opinion. I don’t wish to start any anti-Catholic or anti-religious tirades or threads, but it must be a factor to consider when discussing this decision.
And as Justice Ginsburg writes, what makes this decision so troubling is that it literally turned because of a change in the membership of the court. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s replacement, the intellecutally dull Samuel Alito, provided the fifth vote to overturn a precedent the court had set a mere seven years ago (Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), which struck down a Nebraska partial-birth abortion ban almost exactly like the federal one upheld today).
This is why presidential elections are so important, and why one small leap to the left on the court and today’s abysmal decision is history.
Edited and Cross posted from AoF