The Kennedy Retirement and the Radicalizing of the Supreme Court

Protesters swarmed Washington, DC, to voice their opposition to Brett Kavanaugh.

When Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court, alarms went up about overturning Roe v. Wade, which would make abortion once again illegal in many states. As shown in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in which Kennedy provided the decisive fifth vote overturning Texas’ draconian laws limiting abortion access, one justice can preserve the right to abortion. But Kennedy also voted with the majority in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, when the Supreme Court upheld a state’s right to impose extra requirements — mandatory counseling, waiting periods, etc. — on those seeking abortions. So, while he was willing to curtail access, he never was willing to overturn Roe v. Wade altogether.

In Brett Kavanaugh’s twisted worldview, paperwork is the true burden, while an unwanted pregnancy is not.

But Kennedy was the last independent conservative on the Supreme Court. Anyone Trump nominated was going to be on the far right because he was using the Federalist Society’s list compiled by Leonard Leo. Not quite a kingmaker, but definitely a justice-maker, Leo is also responsible for Justices Roberts, Alito, and Gorsuch.

But some on the right have some doubts about Kavanaugh. In response, the National Review emphasizes Kavanaugh’s judicial defense of “religious freedom.” (Nothing shows the real danger Kavanaugh poses like pundits on the far right reassuring other conservatives.) They lauded Kavanaugh’s ruling in favor of the Trump administration in the case of Jane Doe, the teenage immigrant the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) tried to stop from having an abortion, as “the latest in a long, unbroken line of consistent decisions on issues of religion and abortion.” Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • What Arizona’s asinine abortion ban means for Roe v. Wade (Salon)
  • Well, this is depressing — in less than a decade, Arizona has gone from a state that abortion-rights groups viewed as friendly to one that’s hailed by abortion foes as a national model in their fight to protect the unborn. (Bloomberg)
  • Teen Cancer Patient Can’t Get Chemo Because She’s Nine Weeks Pregnant — But She Can’t Get an Abortion, Either (Jezebel)
  • The good news: Risky sexual behavior is down among black teens. The bad news: The rates of these sexual risk behaviors are still higher than desired, despite the progress made. (The Grio)
  • South Dakota doctors must warn women seeking abortions of suicide risk associated with the procedure — even though no reputable scientific evidence shows a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and suicide. Like, none. (Star Tribune)
  • House Majority Speaker John Boehner has a message for the GOP: Chill out on all the debt talk and temporarily suspend “Operation Keep Birth Control out of the Hands of Women Because Their Rightful Station in Life Should Be Perpetual Pregnancy” until the election is over. Then we can resume where we left off. (TPM)
  • The United States is one of 23 countries where maternal mortality is on the rise. (Women’s eNews)
  • American teen births at a historic low, but still higher than in the rest of the developed world. If you’re guessing that’s due to our prudish attitudes about talking to teens about sex and empowering them with birth control and knowledge, you’d be correct! (WBEZ)
  • A vaginal ring designed to protect women against HIV infection is undergoing a large, multinational trial. Cross your fingers!!! (Toronto Sun)
  • Careful, ladies! Women who shack up before marriage have more unintended pregnancies. (USA Today)