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UPDATE: "The Supremes talked about abortion rights, not Roe v. Wade"

Lyle Denniston, blogging on SCOTUSblog, has a very interesting write-up of today's ongoing Supreme Court discussion of Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Scheidler v. National Organization for Women. (Note: You can listen to the Ayotte arguments yourself on C-SPAN, thanks to Bob Ambrogi's links at Abortion oral arguments to stream today on C-SPAN )

Denniston offers this opinion on what you'll hear:

"Roe v. Wade and its fate never got mentioned. There was not the slightest hint of any agitation within the Court to narrow abortion rights, and certainly no sign that Roe's future was in jeopardy -- at least with this combination of Justices. Instead, the Court appeared to be dealing with the new cases as if abortion rights at this stage had become primarily a matter calling for technical legal precision."

Update: Baloney, said Dahlia Lithwick in a Slate article posted the evening of Ayotte's argument. In "Nipping Away at Roe v. Wade," Lithwick writes:

"Just to be clear about what's happening today: No one is talking about reversing Roe v. Wade. But I can't count five people willing to apply the holding in Casey to these facts either. Instead most of the court is doing constitutional loop-the-loops to try to save the New Hampshire law, even though they are almost all bothered by the lack of a health exception. Mostly they try to graft a health exception back on, whether or not the New Hampshire legislators wished to have one. The larger point is that New Hampshire nipped and tucked the so-called right to an abortion when it passed this law, and most of the court thinks that is just fine.

"This morning we learned that soon-to-be Justice Samuel Alito embraced this nip-tuck strategy years ago. No need to wait for Roe to be overturned. Just eat away at it, one small nibble at a time." More

Denniston also shares some interesting observations on how the new chief justice, John Roberts, emceed his first Supreme Court discussion on the incendiary topic (abortion) that is igniting opposition to Samuel Alito, Bush's second nominee:

"The new Chief Justice, John G. Roberts, Jr., contributed to that impression in the case about parental notice laws for minors seeking an abortion. Rather than an across-the-board challenge to a New Hampshire parental notice law, Roberts suggested, perhaps a better approach would have been for doctors to bring a "more focused" challenge to the adequacy of emergency procedures available to teens who did not want to tell their parents. And, in the clinic blockade case, he suggested that the Court should not reach out to decide questions not necessary to resolve that particular dispute."

What do you think?

Related posts:

Legal Blog Watch: Abortion in context: From New Hampshire to Arkansas to Alito

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