Thursday, February 23, 2006

Paging Justice Alito - You're Defining Moment Is Calling

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that will decide the fate of the Federal "partial birth" abortion law. Following up on that, the state of South Dakota is on the verge of passing legislation that would virtually ban all abortions (except to save the life of the mother). It lacks even the usually present rape/incest exception that lures in the weak-kneed moderate pro-lifers. If enacted, the law would obviously conflict with Roe v. Wade, but that, of course, is the point. With Alito now part of the Court, the hopes are that Roe is not long for this world.

But is it really that clear cut? Even assuming the Alito (and Roberts, for that matter) would vote to overturn Roe, wouldn't that leave the pro-lifers one vote short? The underlying affirmation of Roe in Casey was actually 6-3, not 5-4. The replacement of O'Connor with Alito gets them one step closer, but it may not get them all the way. If that's the case, could a pending challenge to the South Dakota law actually hinder the ability to put the fifth vote on the Court if another vacancy occurs during Dubya's remaining days? Let's hope so.

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