Sunday, March 14, 2004

So very close...

The papers of former Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, author of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, have been opened to the public. The New York Times, which was given first access to the materials, reports that the Roe decision almost fell until Justice Kennedy changed his mind and approached Blackmun with the idea to uphold parts of a pro-life law while keeping Roe's framework intact.

According to the Times, Blackmun feared the Roe decision would fall when the Court prepared to heard the case of Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which saw the abortion business take on a pro-life Pennsylvania law limiting abortions.

Then, a letter came to Blackmun from Justice Anthony Kennedy saying he had "welcome news."

Chief Justice William Rehnquist had assembled a group of five justices, including Kennedy, who were ready to overturn Roe. Justices Byron White, who dissented in Roe along with Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas joined Rehnquist in toppling the pro-abortion case.

The court had decided the Casey decision and Rehnquist was hard at work on writing the majority opinion. Then Kennedy backed out.

After meeting with Kennedy a short time later the Times reports, Blackmun grabbed a memo pad and wrote, "Roe sound."

Nothing in the Blackmun files reveals why Kennedy changed his mind.

I'd love to know what changed his mind...


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