Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Significant Decision

On 6/27/16, the Supreme Court reaffirmed and strengthened constitutional protections for abortion rights, by striking down parts of a restrictive Texas law that could have drastically reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state, and would have result in leaving clinics open only in the largest metropolitan areas.

The 5-to-3 decision was the court’s most sweeping statement on abortion since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, which reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade.

The decision found that Texas’ restrictions that required doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers violated Casey’s prohibition against placing an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.  This decision is the most significant decision from the Supreme Court on abortion in two decades and could serve to deter other states from passing so-called clinic shutdown laws.

The Supreme Court expanded a woman’s right to an abortion, which means that 20 similar requirements in other states are likely also unconstitutional, and imperils many other kinds of restrictions on abortion.  The decision concerned two parts of a law that imposed strict requirements on abortion providers in Texas signed into law in July 2013 by Governor Rick Perry.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, which was joined in full by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is considered the swing vote on the abortion issue.

Breyer wrote: "There was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure.  We agree with the District Court that the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an undue burden on their constitutional right to do so.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Breyer’s opinion by writing: "When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety."

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the majority opinion.   Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

The court has had only eight justices after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last February, because Senate Republicans have refused to act on President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.


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