Friday, April 27, 2007

Election 2008 Links

From "This Week's" on the Trail Series - Chris Dodd

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET):
Topic This Week - "Meet The Candidate." Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware). Hosted by Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - "Choosing the President" Series begins. (a) Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) with his wife Cindy McCain on the presidential aspirant's vision here at home and abroad. (b) FOX News Sunday Panel evaluates the Democratic Candidates' performance. Discussion to include Brit Hume of FOX News, Mara Liasson of NPR, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams of NPR. Hosted by Chris Wallace.

3. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET):
Topic This Week - the standoff between Congress and the president over a U.S. troop withdrawal. Guests to include U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, U.S. Representative Adam Putnam (D-Florida), Representative Jane Harman (D-California), European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, CNN Correspondent Joe Johns, and CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry. Hosted by Wolf Blitzer.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET): Topics of the Week - the Iraq War funding debate and the 2008 presidential elections. (a) Headliner - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on the president's expected veto of Congressional war funding and former CIA Director George Tenet's revelations on war intelligence. (b) Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) on the next step in the Iraq War funding debate and its effect on the 2008 presidential elections. (c) Roundtable - Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, and George Will of ABC News on this week's politics. (d) Voices - Natalie Portman on the importance microfinancing plays for women in third world countries. Check back later or tomorrow. Hosted by George Stephanopoulos.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:30 AM ET):
Topic This Week - the Iraq War. Guests to include U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and U.S. Representative Jack Murtha (D-Pennsylvania). Hosted by Bob Schieffer.

II. THE WEEKEND TALK SHOWS


1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET):
Topics This Week - John McCain, Barack Obama, and the battle between the president and Democrats. (a) Political Collision Course: the Democrats v. President George W. Bush. (b) Democratic Primary Debate - Senator Barack Obama a loser after the debate. (c) Republican Campaign - Senator John McCain officially enters the race and goes after the president. Co-hosted by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET): Topics of the Week - Rosie O'Donnell, Katie Couric, and Iraq War Coverage. (a) War Coverage - the press, the Pentagon and the war in Iraq. (b) Rosie O'Donnell - speculation as to whether there is a connection between Don Imus' firing and Rosie O'Donnell's departure from "The View." (c) Katie Couric - an expensive mistake? Panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler, and host Eric Burns.

3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but anyone who is interested in watching it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts that are posted on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is hosted by Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on WNBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
Topic This Week - election 2008 presidential election. (a) the Democrats and national security. (b) the role of the economy in the 2008 presidential elections. Guests to include Katty Kay of the BBC, Jim Cramer of CNBC, Clarence Page of The Chicago Tribune, and Ann Kornblutt of The Washington Post. Check back later or tomorrow. Hosted is Chris Matthews.

III. OTHER WEEKEND NEWS/POLITICAL SHOWS

1. "Heartland" on FOX News (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET):
Check back here later or tomorrow. Hosted by John Kasich.

2. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Saturday at 5:00 PM ET): Check back here later or tomorrow. Hosted by Julie Banderas.

IV. WEEKEND FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS

1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): Topic This Week - Transgerendered People. (a) the boy trapped in a girl's body. (b) the girl trapped in a boy's body. Special presented by Barbara Walters.

2. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Murder in the Fast Lane." - Colleen Campbell's determination and effort to solve the murder of her brother, Mickey Thompson and his wife Trudy Thompson.

3. "CBS News Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET):
(a) Cover Story: The Queen - Mark Phillips profiles Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. (b) Almanac - Duke Ellington born. (c) The Movies - David Edelstein on Spiderman 3. (d) History - Jamestown. (e) Passage - Jack Valenti. (f) Sunday Profile - Renee Richards. (g) Online - e-mail etiquette. (h) People: To See Again - Jack Blackstone reports on successful paralympics champion Mike May's life and the stem cell surgery that may help him see again. (i) Opinion - Mo Rocca on curtain going up. (j) Ender: Baghdad Zoo - Correspondent Randall Pinkston reports on conservationist Lawrence Anthony's efforts to save the Baghdad zoo. Host is Charles Osgood.

4. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
Topics This Week - George Tenet and the right of mentally ill people to bear arms. (a) Interview with former CIA Director George Tenet - Scott Pelley interviews the former CIA director about what it was like to be the CIA director during 9/11, the war on terror, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and his "slam dunk" comment. (b) mentally ill people owning guns - Steve Kroft interivews people who say the mentally ill should have the right to bear arms. (c) Andy Rooney.

5. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
"We Were Warned, Edge of Diaster." - Anderson Cooper and CNN correspondents review domestic security in the face of terror.

6. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Saturday at 8:00 PM and Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): Topics of the Week - Cherly Miller's murder and an 11-year old rape case. (a) on Saturday the forensic evidence used to link Gabriel Ferris to the 1974 murder of Cheryl Miller. (b) on Sunday - an investigation into a stalker may bring new life into the investigation of an 11-year old rape case.

V, WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT


1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): Russian immigrant is poisoned but the investigation turns from terrorism to revenge. Regular include Sam Waterston as Executive Assistand District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, Jessie L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, Milena Govich as Detective Nina Cassidy, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren, and Fred Dalton Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch.

2. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET):
Repeat. Indianapolois Colts Quarerback Peyton Manning with musical guest Carrie Underwood.

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET): "The Good Death" - a nurse confesses to six mercy killings, re-opening a 1998 case involving a terminally ill patient who died under a cloud of suspicion. Guest stars Meredith Baxter. Regular stars include Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush, Danny Pino as Scott Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as William Jeffries, and Tracie Thomas as Kat Miller.

4. "Without A Trace" on CBS (Sunday at 10:00 PM ET):
"One And Only" - Disappearance of a court judge includes a number of suspects including the husbands he ruled against and one mysterious man who was seen threatening him. Regular stars include Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgado.

Correction

Yesterday the PoliticalHeretic incorrectly attributed a question "Hardball" host Chris Matthews asked to Bob Frum when he was interviewing Democratic strategist Bob Shrum.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Media Bias

Could you believe it? Chris Matthews asked Bob Frum how Biden, Richardson, and Dodd, three "credible" candidates, get the press' attention?

Answer: by having the press pay attention.

LInk

92.3 KTAR has Senator John McCain's speech.

Election Debate Alert

Tomorrow, voters will get their first chance to hear the eight Democratic candidates vying to be their party's nominee for the White House square off in the first of what is hoped, many debates. MSNBC will broadcast this debate on Thursday, April 28 at 7:00 PM ET, but those who miss it could probably tune in later at night when it will be re-aired.

Commentary before and after the debate will disappoint those of us who think the pundits should focus on the substantive issues raised in the debate.

Senators Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Barack Obama (D-Illinois) will probably catch the media's spotlight. Talk show hosts Chris Matthews, and Keith Olbermann will ask their pundits if either of the two frontrunners did enough to pull ahead of their closest rival or if runner-up former Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina) did enough to close the distance between he and the two frontrunners.

To the extent that Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), or Governor Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico) receive any coverage, the focus will be on how they separate themselves from the pack or who will drop out first.

Viewers should tune that commentary out. While they may not be considered the frontrunners, Senators Edwards, Biden, and Dodd as well as Governor Bill Richardson and Representative Kucinich may have something substantive to say in their areas of expertise. Governor Bill Richardson may stand out because he is the sole governor with the executive-level experience in the debate while Senator Joe Biden scores points for his role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The senator from New York might show off her detailed knowledge of health care issues she gained while unsuccessfully pushing for a single-payer health care system.

You will go into the voting booth and pull the lever for one of these candidates (assuming you are either a Democrat or an independent who can vote in your given. If you are a Republican you may opt to cross party lines in the general election if you like what you hear and either way knowing what they say now will come in handy if their positions "evolve" or change later on.

Don't cheat yourself by dismissing any candidate until you heard what they had to say. The primaries, like the election, is a long way off. Take whatever chance you can get to learn about these candidates and what they ahve to offer.

Iowa's Step Forward

Iowa may yet enter the approaches the 20th century. Passing a law banning discrimination in employment and housing shouldn't even be too controversial.

From the Campaign Trail

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at New England College and Senator John McCain (R-Arizona)at Veterans Memorial Park in Manchester and Prescott Park in Portsmouth. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spoke before a packed audience at Bickford's Restaurant in Salem.

Quotes:

"If it's not working then we need to find a resolution." - Mitt Romney as quoted in The Manchester Union. Comment - No kidding.

"America should never undertake a war unless we are prepared to do everything necessary to succeed, unless we have a realistic and comprehensive plan for success and unless all relevant agencies of government are committed to that success," - Senator John McCain in The Manchester Union. Comment - Usually frontrunners try to win their party leader's endorsement. This speaks volumes about our president, George W. Bush.

“Make no mistake about it, the Democrats want to put us back on defense,” - former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York) - Comment: Want to put us on the defensive?

Link - Charles Fried on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Ruling.

" ... there are indeed cases where the court in the last few years had become truly incoherent, largely as a result of Justice O’Connor’s pragmatic and underexplained abandonment of positions she had earlier agreed to or even proclaimed on affirmative action and campaign finance. The first issue has been argued and will be decided this term of court; campaign finance is being argued this week.

If the justices eliminate the confusion and restore principle in those areas, the cry will go up that the court is simply reflecting its changed political complexion, not reasoning carefully and promoting stability and clarity in the law. And last week’s decision will lend plausibility to that charge."
- law professor and former U.S. Solicitor General Charles Fried claiming that the Supreme Court could be wrong even when it tries to right a wrong.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Comments on the Supreme Court's Partial-Birth Abortion Ruling: Part II

1. "The woman is placed under general anesthesia or conscious sedation. The doctor, often guided by ultrasound, inserts grasping forceps through the woman’s cervix and into the uterus to grab the fetus. The doctor grips a fetal part with the forceps and pulls it back through the cervix and vagina, continuing to pull even after meeting resistance from the cervix. The friction causes the fetus to tear apart. For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix and out of the woman. The process of evacuating the fetus piece by piece continues until it has been completely removed. A doctor may make 10 to 15 passes with the forceps to evacuate the fetus in its entirety, though sometimes removal is completed with fewer passes. Once the fetus has been evacuated, the placenta and any remaining fetal material are suctioned or scraped out of the uterus. The doctor examines the different parts to ensure the entire fetal body has been removed." - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, describing the dilation and extraction procedure doctors could still use for second and third trimester abortions in Gonzalez v. Carhart

2. Intact D&E gained public notoriety when, in 1992, Dr. Martin Haskell gave a presentation describing his method of performing the operation. Dilation and Extraction 110–111. In the usual intact D&E the fetus’ head lodges in the cervix, and dilation is insufficient to allow it to pass. See, e.g., ibid.; App. in No. 05–380, at 577; App. in No. 05–1382, at 74, 282. Haskell explained the next step asfollows:

“ ‘At this point, the right-handed surgeon slides the fingers of the left [hand] along the back of the fetus and “hooks” the shoulders of the fetus with the index and ring fingers (palm down).

“ ‘While maintaining this tension, lifting the cervix and applying traction to the shoulders with the fingers of the left hand, the surgeon takes a pair of blunt curved Metzenbaum scissors in the right hand. He carefully advances the tip, curved down, along the spine and under his middle finger until he feels it contact the base of the skull under the tip of his middle finger.

“ ‘[T]he surgeon then forces the scissors into the base of the skull or into the foramen magnum. Having safely entered the skull, he spreads the scissors to enlarge the opening.

“ ‘The surgeon removes the scissors and introduces a suction catheter into this hole and evacuates the skull contents. With the catheter still in place, he applies traction to the fetus, removing it completely from the patient.’ ” H. R. Rep. No. 108–58, p. 3 (2003).

This is an abortion doctor’s clinical description. Here is another description from a nurse who witnessed the same method performed on a 26-week fetus and who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“ ‘Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby’s legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby’s body and the arms—everything but the head. The doctor kept the head right inside the uterus… .

“ ‘The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall.

“ ‘The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby went completely limp… .

“ ‘He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used.’ - Justice Kennedy, quoting from two who are or did use the intact dilation and extraction abortion procedure (partial birth abortion) that Congress banned four years ago.


The Partial-Birth Abortion Act five Supreme Court justices voted to uphold last doesn't spare any fetus from a brutal death. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her dissenting opinion, doctors could intentionally dismember a live fetus by attempting to remove it from the pregnant mother's womb.

Justice Kennedy, himself conceded as much before defending Congress' right to distinguish between the two procedures:

"No one would dispute that, for many, D&E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life. Congress could nonetheless conclude that the type of abortion proscribed by the Act requires specific regulation because it implicates additional ethical and moral concerns that justify a special prohibition. Congress determined that the abortion methods it proscribed had a “disturbing similarity to the killing of a newborn infant,” Congressional Findings (14)(L), in notes following 18 U. S. C. §1531 (2000 ed., Supp. IV), p. 769, and thus it was concerned with “draw[ing] a bright line that clearly distinguishes abortion and infanticide.” Congressional Findings (14)(G), ibid. The Court has in the past confirmed the validity of drawing boundaries to prevent certain practices that extinguish life and are close to actions that are condemned. Glucksberg found reasonable the State’s “fear that permitting assisted suicide will start it down the path to voluntary and perhaps even involuntary euthanasia.”

and here:

"It is objected that the standard D&E is in some respects as brutal, if not more, than the intact D&E, so that the legislation accomplishes little. What we have already said, however, shows ample justification for the regulation. Partial-birth abortion, as defined by the Act, differs from a standard D&E because the former occurs when the fetus is partially outside the mother to the point of one of the Act’s anatomical landmarks. It was reasonable for Congress to think that partial-birth abortion, more than standard D&E, “undermines the public’s perception of the appropriate role of a physician during the delivery process, and perverts a process during which life is brought into the world.” Congressional Findings (14)(K), in notes following 18 U. S. C. §1531 (2000 ed., Supp. IV), p. 769."

Congress, in other words, could decide on its own that it could ban one means of terminating a second or third-trimester fetus without banning another because the one that it seeks to ban more closely resembles the infanticide that both may or may not be in fact.

It could be asserted mbles the torturous and should have banned the standard D&E procedure (or for that matter, both) instead since the tearing of a fetus limb by limb more closely resembles the gratuitous torture portrayed in horror movies.

Pro-life conservatives were pleased with Justice Kennedy's decision. For the time in recent history, the Supreme Court upheld a ban on a particular abortion procedure that included no health exception and did so without applying the strict or highest degree of scrutiny it usually reserves for governmental regulations, ordinances, or statutes that infringe upon one's Court-asserted or recognized fundamental rights.

Justice Kennedy's high deference towards Congress is unprecedented and unwarranted. When an act passed by Congress deprives or severely restricts an American citizen of his or her fundamental rights, the Court must examine the law closely to ensure that such a deprivation of liberty is necessary. If a fetus at a given gestational age has a right to life, no distinction between abortion-related procedures conducted at that stage in development would suffice. Whether the doctor rips the fetus a part or slices it open to suck the brain out, the fetus' right to life is denied.


If at any stage in its gestational development, the fetus is not entitled to a right to life or, in the alternative, it lacks the prerequisite cells needed to have a stake in life (for argument's sake, the neurological organs needed to sense pain), then deprivation of the pregant woman's bodily integrity, reproductive rights, and personal autonomy is unwarranted. No distinction would suffice, for if the tearing of the fetus at this given gestational age is the moral equivalent of the shredding of paper, than the pregnant woman and her doctor are entitled to make the decision that best meets her needs.

The Supreme Court's agnostic approach may bring the Court and society one constitutional precedent closer to the conservative pro-life advocates' goal of handing this over to the people's elected representatives, but it does so at the expense of our individual rights - mother's and fetus' alike.

While the PoliticalHeretic is pleased with the Court's decision to uphold the ban, he does not agree with the logic which the Court applied and hopes it will discard the ill-defined and amorphous "undue burden" standard adopted in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey in favor of legal jurisprudence adopted in Roe v. Wade where it linked the state's power to regulate, restrict and even ban abortion procedures to the gestational age of the "unborn child" and the personal characteristics it would have acquired at that stage in its development.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Comments on the Supreme Court's Partial Birth Abortion Ruling: Part I

No one was really surprised when the Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 earlier this week. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the key swing voter on challenges involving abortion restrictions, authored the main dissent to a narrow 5-4 Court ruling invalidating Nebraska's ban on partial birth abortion six year ago so no one was expecting him to uphold the Court's decision to reconsider its ruling on partial birth abortions this time and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who cast the deciding fifth vote invalidating Nebraska's statute, retired last year. Her replacement, Samuel A. Alito, as expected, voted to uphold the law.

The Court, in spite of its personnel change, however, did not overturn its ruling in Stenberg. Doing so would have invited public scrutiny as media reporters attributed the reversal in constitutional jurisprudence to a change in personnel, subjecting it to the public ridicule it cannot afford. Those who come before it bind themselves to the Court's rulings with the expectation that its judgments will be based on the legal jurisprudence that preceded them.

Supreme Court justices have no means to enforce their rulings. The justices have no army to impose their will and no money to reward faithfulness. Adherence is won through the faith litigants have in the Court's well-reasoned opinions and profound respect it has in settled case law.

For Kennedy, incremental change would suffice if Stenberg's legal reach minimized. Justice Kennedy offered a plausible rationale for sustaining the Partial-Birth Abortion Act passed by Congress three years ago from the Nebraska statute he failed to uphold six years ago.

President George W. Bush signed the challenged the Partial-Birth Abortion Act on November 5, 2003. The law bars physicians from intentionally delivering a:

"living fetus until, in the case of a head of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus."

To Justice Kennedy, Congress addressed the charges that doomed the Nebraska statute to invalidation - that (a) it was too vague, (b) would be arbitrarily imposed, and (c) that it would impose an "undue burden" on a woman's right to have an abortion. The law survived the vagueness challenge because doctors know that to be in violation they intentionally have to either (a) deliver a live (as opposed to a dead) intact fetus past one of two identified anatomical reference points (the head with respect to a head delivery and anypoint past the navel with respect to a trunk breech). It provision offering doctors freedom from criminal liability if they unintentionally deliver a fetus past the anatomical reference points protect them from arbitrary prosecution.

The law imposes no "undue burden" on a woman's right to have an abortion since doctors are (a) free to perform hysterectomies and standard dilation and extraction (this involves the tearing of a live fetus up through cervical friction as it is removed from the woman's body) and (b) free to perform partial birth abortions past the navel. Doctors could, he notes, can partially deliver fetuses they already poisoned to death or, in the alternative, deliver the trunk end of a live fetus just south of the navel and kill it before the rest of the body is removed from the mother's body.

Justice Kennedy did not, it should be pointed out, say that a far more restrictve ban on all partial-birth abortions or second-and-third-trimester abortions would not withstand judicial srutiny. He merely noted that Congress could distinguish between late-term abortions performed using "intact dilation and extraction" (which it banned) and "standard dilation and extraction" (which it did not):

"It is objected that the standard D&E is in some respects as brutal, if not more, than the intact D&E, so that the legislation accomplishes little. What we have already said, however, shows ample justification for the regulation. Partial-birth abortion, as defined by the Act, differs from a standard D&E because the former occurs when the fetus is partially outside the mother to the point of one of the Act's anatomical landmarks. It was reasonable for Congress to think that partial-birth abortion, more than standard D&E, "undermines the public's perception of the appropriate role of a physician during the delivery process, and perverts a process during which life is brought into the world." Congressional Findings (14)(K), in notes following 18 U. S. C. §1531 (2000 ed., Supp. IV), p. 769. There would be a flaw in this Court's logic, and an irony in its jurisprudence, were we first to conclude a ban on both D&E and intact D&E was overbroad and then to say it is irrational to ban only intact D&E because that does not proscribe both procedures."

As the passage above makes clear, this ruling, however confined and limited to the narrowly restrictive Partial-Birth Abortion Ban that was challenged, was groundbreaking. Kennedy did not concern himself with Congress' underlying rationale for permitting some and restricting other late-term abortions that may arguably be equally brutal. He deferred to Congress because it did offer a plausible reason for imposing a ban on one but not the other procedure. The opinion's author deferred to Congress again in dismissing the dissenters' health challenge:

"On the other hand, relying on the Court's opinion in Stenberg, respondents contend that an abortion regulation must contain a health exception "if 'substantial medical authority supports the proposition that banning a particular procedure could endanger women's health.' " Brief for Respondents in No. 05-380, p. 19 (quoting 530 U. S., at 938); see also Brief for Respondent Planned Parenthood et al. in No. 05-1382, at 12 (same). As illustrated by respondents' arguments and the decisions of the Courts of Appeals, Stenberg has been interpreted to leave no margin of error for legislatures to act in the face of medical uncertainty. Carhart, 413 F. 3d, at 796; Planned Parenthood, 435 F. 3d, at 1173; see also Nat. Abortion Federation, 437 F. 3d, at 296 (Walker, C. J., concurring) (explaining the standard under Stenberg "is a virtually insurmountable evidentiary hurdle").

A zero tolerance policy would strike down legitimate abortion regulations, like the present one, if some part of the medical community were disinclined to follow the proscription. This is too exacting a standard to impose on the legislative power, exercised in this instance under the Commerce Clause, to regulate the medical profession. Considerations of marginal safety, including the balance of risks, are within the legislative competence when the regulation is rational and in pursuit of legitimate ends. When standard medical options are available, mere convenience does not suffice to displace them; and if some procedures have different risks than others, it does not follow that the State is altogether barred from imposing reasonable regulations. The Act is not invalid on its face where there is uncertainty over whether the barred procedure is ever necessary to preserve a woman's health, given the availability of other abortion procedures that are considered to be safe alternatives."



For the first time, the Supreme Court upheld a restriction banning an abortion procedure utilizing the lowest standard of scrutiny (rational basis). The Supreme Court traditionally applies the highest level of scrutiny to any statutue, administrative policy, or regulation that unduly burdens one's right to exercise a "fundamental right." Bestowing on Congress a high degree of deference when it denies a person a "fundamental right" wasm up to now, virtually unheard of.

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET): Topic This Week - the Virginia Tech school shooting. Guests to include Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, Education Secretary Margaret Spelling, retired Virginia Police Col. Massengill and former Homeland Secretary Tom Ridge. Host is Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - Alberto Gonzalez, Virginia Tech, and the war in Iraq. (a) Virginia Tech - the state of campus security in the wake of the shootings at Virginia Tech as viewed by Virginia Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and George Washington University President Stephen Joel Trachtenburg. (b) Alberto Gonzalez under fire in the Senate Judiciary Committee - his political fate - the chances in his resignation or removal as seen by Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York). (c) FOX News Sunday Panel - on Senator Harry Reid's statement that the Iraq war was lost. Panelists will include Brit Hume of Fox News, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams of NPR and Mara liasson of NPR. (d)special tribute to the victims at Virginia Tech.
Host is Chris Wallace.
3. "Late Edition Sunday with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET):
Topics of the Week - the shooting at Virginia Tech, the war in Iraq, and Israel. Guests will include Senator and presidential candidate Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), Senator Ron Wyden (D-Washington), Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, columnist Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, former Clinton special counsel Lanny Davis, former Reagan-Bush legal counsel David Rivkin, CNN Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve, co-anchors Kiran Chetry and John Roberts of CNN's "American Morning." Host is Wolf Blitzer.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - presidential politics, Virginia Tech shootings. (a) Sunday Exclusive - former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on the Virginia Tech shooting, gun control and the rest of this week's news. (b) "On The Trail" segment - Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) with his wife Jackie Clegg Dodd. (c) Classic Roundtable with George Will, Sam Donaldson, and Cokie Roberts. Host is George Stephanopoulos.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:30 AM ET):
Topics of the Week - gun control and Alberto Gonzalez' testimony. (a) Virginia Tech and gun control with gun control activists Jim and Sarah Brady and former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary. (b) Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez' testimony - Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont). Host is Bob Schieffer.

II. WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS

1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET): Topics of the Week - Virginia Tech and Alberto Gonzalez' testimony. (a) Virginia Tech Shooting - who is responsible, why, and can another school shooting massacre like this be prevented in the future. (b) Alberto Gonzalez - down for losing support on Capitol Hill during his testimony at the hearings. Co-hosts are Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET):
Topic This Week - media coverage following the Virginia Tech Massacre. (a) how the media performed. (b) NBC and the assassin's news package. (c) Pointing fingers. Panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler, and moderator Eric Burns.

3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but anyone who is interested in watching it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts that are posted on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is hosted by Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
Topics this week - Virginia Tech and the Supreme Court's decision on partial-birth abortion. (a) Virginia Tech - what cause it. (b) The Supreme Court's decision and Hillary Clinton - how this ruling on partial-birth abortion may benefit or hurt Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House. Guests will include Washington Correspondent Katty Kay of BBC, Chief Political Correspondent Howard Fineman of Newsweek, White house Correspondent Kelly O'Donnell of NBC News, columnist David Brooks of The New York Times and host Chris Matthews.

III. OTHER WEEKEND POLITICAL/NEWS PROGRAMS

1. "Heartland" on FOX News (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET): not posted yet. Host is John kasich.

2. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - Don Imus and Virginia Tech. (a) Virginia Tech fall out - mandatory treatment for mental illness. (b) Don Imus - double standard with hip hop. (c) Virginia Tech - what we could learn regarding school safety.
Host is Julie Banderas.
IV. WEEKEND FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS


1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): Topic This week - Earth Day 2007 (a) ABC News Coorespondents on all seven continents report on solutions to save the planet. (a) Paris' new metal iodide lights reported by Chris Cuomo. (c) an indigenous tribe's effort to fight malaria with poisonous ant bites - reported by John Quinones. (d) Joe Guasti's windmills of San Bernadino County. (e) Cynthia McFadden on China's growing environmental problem.

2. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET): "Nightmare in Napa" - double Halloween murder in Napa Valley suprises loved ones when the trail points to someone who lived among them. Reported by Bill Lagattuta.

3. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - Rachel Carson, Lee Iacocca, Virginia Tech, Joel Gray. (a) Cover Story: Rachel Carson - Correspondent Thalia Assuras speaks to those who knew Rachel Carson, an environmental crusader whose legacy includes the ban on DDT, the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the current disputes over global warming and organic food. (b) Sunday Almanac - the Oklahoma Gold Rush. (c) Sunday Journal - Correspondent Martha Teichner on our reactions to shootings like the ones that occurred this week at Virginia Tech, and our chance at stopping them. (d) Money - Lee Iacocca. (e) Sunday Passage - Kitty Carlisle Hart. (f)Art History - Jamestown Watercolors. (g) Sunday Profile - Joel Grey profiled by Rita Braver. (h) Opinion - Ben Stein. (i) Ender - history of the plastic bag.

4. "60 Minutes Sunday" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - the Virginia Tech Shooter, Baghdad, and snitching. (a) "Mind of an Assassin" - Scott Pelley talks to U.S. Secret Service intelligence officers who compared their research to the characteristics of the Virginia Tech shooter. (b) "Life in Baghdad" - Lara Logan reports on the long gas lines, bombings, and shootings Baghdad. (c) "Stop Snitchin'" - Anderson Cooper reports on how the hip hop culture's message against police cooperation. (d) Commentary from Andy Rooney.

5. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
"Massacre At Virginia Tech" - Americans remember the 32 victims gunned down earlier this week at Virgini Tech.

V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT

1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): an actress and her mother are found dead in her apartment and the police question whether it was a suicide or murder. Regular stars include Sam Waterston as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, Jessie L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, Milena Govich as Detective Nina Cassidy, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren, and Fred Dalton Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch.

2. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET):
2003 Golden Globe award nominee and actress Scarlett Johansson of "The Horse Whisperer" and "Lost in Translation" hosts this week's live show with musical guest Bjork.

3."HallMark Hall of Fame" Movie on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET):
"Crossroads" - Bruce Murakami's tries to get the young driver who killed his wife and daughter in a car accident tried for murder then has second thoughts. Stars Dean Cain as Bruce Murakami, Peri Gilpin as his lawyer, and Shiloh Fernandez as the reckless driver.

* Note: "Cold Case" and "Without A Trace" are pre-empted to bring you the "Hall Mark Hall of Fame" movie "Crossroads."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

First some basic facts:

1. The Court declined to overturn its own ruling in Stenberg v. Carhart while reserving the right to uphold all partial-birth abortion bans in the future.

2. The law which the Court upheld today (The Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003)does not ban women from having all partial-birth abortion bans. Justice Kennedy, writing for the Supreme Court, said it bans intact dilate and extraction abortions perfroemd on live fetuses that are partially delivered so that the naval (or any portion between the nval and the head) is removed from the body.



Now, for those into the whole thing: Here's the outline I composed from the opinion. My comments and explanations are in bold with important notes underlined as well. An outline for the concurrence and dissent will be added to this post tomorrow and commentary in a separate post on Friday.

Opinion of the Court – Its Cited Factual Data (From Introduction and Part I)


• Decision is 5-4 with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing the opinion for the majority. He is joined by Justices Samuel A. Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissent which was signed by her associate justices Stephen Breyer, David H. Souter, and John Paul Stevens.

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is distinguished from the Nebraska statute overturned in Stenberg v. Carhart (530 U.S. 914, 2000). The Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003 is upheld without overruling Stenberg v. Carhart.

• 85-90% of the 1.3 million abortions performed each year are done in the first three months through one of two procedures –
(a) vacuuming the embryo tissue out or
(b) through medication like RU-486.

• Second-trimester abortions are generally performed using one of two variations of dilation and extraction (D&E). This is a three-step process.
a. Cervix is dilated to allow passage of surgical utensils. Medication such as misoprostol can be used.
b. Patient is anesthetized or consciously sedated. Doctor inserts forceps through cervix to grab and pull out fetus. Friction causes fetus to break a part, forcing the doctor to insert forceps in until all body parts are removed.
c. Remaining fetal matter are removed through suction or scraping.

• Some doctors kill the fetus first by injecting digoxin or potassium chloride.

• The challenged Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, like other bans that preceded it, generally refer to a particular type of dilation and extraction procedure used in the second and third trimesters which, for lack of a better term, shall be referred to as “intact dilation and extraction” (“intact D&E”). Goal is to remove as much of fetus as possible without dismemberment.

• Procedure for Intact D&E.
a. Cervix is dilated to allow passage of surgical utensils. Medication such as misoprostol can be used.
b. Patient is anesthetized or consciously sedated. Fetus may be rotated or a body part is grasped to pull whole fetus down so that head alone remains in fetus.
c. Doctor inserts scissors into the base of the fetus’s skull and cuts to enlarge the opening.
d. Doctor removes the scissors and vacuums brain out and then removes the fetus.
e. In the alternative, a doctor may squeeze the skull to allow for removal.

Not all second-trimester abortions are performed through D&E. Doctors can medicate a patient to induce labor. Hysterotomies and hysterectomies are performed in emergency circumstances.

Opinion of the Court – Historical Background – Federal (From Part I)


• 1996 – Congress passed a partial-birth abortion ban which President William Jefferson Clinton vetoed. Congress failed to override his veto.
• 1997 – Congress again passed a partial-birth abortion ban but again failed to override the president’s veto.
• 2000 – Nebraska’s partial-birth abortion ban is struck down by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. At least 30 states passed laws banning this procedure before the Court issued its ruling in Stenberg v. Carhart.
• 2003 – Congress passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 which was signed by President George W. Bush into law. Congress responded to the Court’s ruling in Stenberg in two ways
a. First, it made its own factual findings, noting that the Supreme Court was obliged to accept as fact the district court’s own findings. Congress said there was a “moral, medical, and ethical” consensus that partial-birth abortions” are (1) “gruesome and inhumane” and (2) never medically necessary.

“More Relevant” – the Act’s language differed from that utilized in the Nebraska statute.

Opinion of the Court – Lower Court Rulings Concerning Challenged Act (From Part I)

• Challenge from the 8th Circuit
a. District Court – Act provided for no health exception as required by Stenberg. Act banned other types of D&E aside from “intact D&E”
b. Circuit Court – Addressed the health exception claim only. The Court affirmed the district court’s ruling since federal courts are, in its words, obliged to err on the side of a woman’s claimed health when no “medical consensus” can be found.

• Challenge from the 9th Circuit
a. District Court – unconstitutional because it (1) imposed an “undue burden” upon a woman’s right to a second-trimester abortion; (2) was constitutionally vague; and (3) included no health exception.
b. Circuit Court – affirmed on all three grounds.

Opinion of the Court – The Supreme Court’s Legal Ruling


This ruling does not overrule the basic tenets adopted in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. For purposes of this ruling: (From Part II)
a. State cannot bar women from terminating their pregnancy before viability.
b. State cannot impose an “undue burden” with the “purpose or effect” to “place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion” before viability.
c. State can set regulations that do no more than “create a structural mechanism by which” it, or the parents/guardians of a minor could “express profound respect for the life of the unborn.”

• Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003 is described in “operation and effect.” (From Part III). Law is neither too vague nor overly broad. It imposes no “undue burden” upon a woman’s right to have a second trimester abortion.
a. Four things are required before the act of partially aborting a fetus is considered criminal. ( So four loopholes allow doctors to perform intact dilation and extraction surgeries).
1. The fetus must be alive at the time of delivery (“expired” fetuses are not covered by the act. Viability, however, is not a factor in determining legality. (So killing the fetus before delivery is okay).
2. The fetus’ body north of its navel must be delivered. Doctors could deliver the fetus’ legs and trunk south of the navel without violating this act. (So partially delivering the bottom half of a live fetus is okay; partially delivering the top half of a live fetus is not).
3. Doctor must complete a “separate overt act” that kills the partially delivered fetus separate from the delivery itself and that act must occur after the delivery to the anatomical landmark (the navel). (So, an “overt act” (the removal of the brain, crushing of the skull, etc) can be performed before navel is delivered). (So the doctor can partially deliver the bottom half of a live fetus, kill the fetus, and then deliver the top half).
4. Doctor must deliver the fetus past the landmark on purpose. Accidental partial deliveries are not covered by the act. (So a doctor could mistakenly partially deliver the top half of a live fetus and still be immune from prosecution).
b. The Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003 survives charges that it is too vague because:
1. Doctors know that, in order to violate the act, they have to (a) partially deliver a live fetus and (b) deliver it past a described anatomical landmark (the fetus’ navel and further north). (These facts distinguish it from the Nebraska statute overturned in Stenberg). Doctors who “act on good faith” and, by sheer accident, deliver a live fetus past its navel are protected from criminal prosecution.
2. Charges that the Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003 will be enforced arbitrarily or in discriminatory manner are premature. It’s “good faith” requirement minimize the potential for prosecutorial overreach or persecution.
c. The Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003, unlike the Nebraska statute overturned in imposes no “undue burden” on a woman’s right to have an abortion. Congress sought to address the Court’s objections described in Stenberg by:
1. Congress, unlike Nebraska, is only banning the delivery of a living fetus as opposed to a ban that includes a “substantial portion thereof.”
2. Congress, unlike Nebraska, is banning the delivery of the fetus as a whole without prohibiting doctors from removing fetal parts.
3. Congress, unlike Nebraska, bans the procedure only after the delineated portion of the fetus is removed from the woman’s body whereas Nebraska banned the procedures as soon as a “substantial portion” of the fetus was delivered “into the vagina.”
4. Congress, unlike Nebraska, allows portions of the fetus (the arms ?, and legs) to be delivered.
5. The overt act (the killing, incision, etc) in the Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003 is not criminal if it is conducted before the “anatomical landmark” (naval) is delivered.
6. Even if the act does not explicitly protect a woman’s right to other dilate and extraction abortion procedures during the second trimester, it can and will be interpreted to include that protection.
7. The objections that standard D&E partial-birth abortions can violate this provision are dismissed since the “intent” requirement protects doctors who try to perform the D&E.

• The Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003 does not impose any “substantial obstacle” on a woman’s right to have a second trimester pre-viability abortions. (From Part IV, where most eloquent “pro-life” statements come from.)
a. The State has an interest in “protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession” and as a consequence, may use “its voice and regulatory authority to show profound respect for the life within the woman.”
1. “The three premises of Casey must co-exist.”
2. State’s own “regulatory interest” cannot be wholly negated by including an undefined, all-disqualifying health exception that permits doctors to choose the procedure they prefer (but need not).
3. State can “bar certain procedures and substitute others.”
4. Standard D&E itself is “laden with the power to devalue human life” (Note: The court is neither siding with nor ruling out a future opinion overruling Stenberg. Why Kennedy decided against overruling it in this case is open to speculation).
5. Congress nevertheless had the right to ban this procedure because, in its determination, the banned procedure has a “disturbingly similarity to the killing of a newborn infant.
6. State has an interest in protecting the mother from her regret in having a doctor perform this procedure without the manner of the fetus’ death known (either by willful ignorance or by the doctor’s own failure to describe it). (Comment: The law at issue goes far beyond addressing this concern. The woman’s choice to have the procedure is banned, leaving her no need to acquire the information concerning the manner of the fetus’ death.)
b. There is no consensus as to whether a ban on intact dilution and extraction procedures imposes “significant health risks” to the mother’s health. Evidence can be used to support those on both sides of the divide so the legislature must be given wide latitude to legislate in these areas. Challenges here can be addressed on an “as-applied basis” (legal challenges) (This from Part V).

Concurring Opinion


• Written by Justice Clarence Thomas and signed by Justice Antonin Scalia (Alito and Roberts have not joined in this opinion perhaps because this case did not address abortion rights in general. Kennedy did not join in part because he co-wrote an opinion upholding the right to an abortion).

• Joins in the Opinion of the Court since it “accurately applies current jurisprudence” – including Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey

• Reiterates view that the Court’s abortion jurisprudence dating back to Roe v. Wade, has “no basis in the Constitution and should be overturned. (Scalia and Thomas believe there is no right to privacy, sexual intimacy, contraceptives, or abortion).

• No one addressed claim that Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 may be a legitimate exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause. (This might have been inserted by Thomas to disassociate himself from the Kennedy opinion which noted Congress’ asserted right to regulate the medical profession using the commerce clause).

Dissenting Opinion


• Written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, David H. Souter, and John Paul Stevens.

• Asserts that three tenets upheld in Casey were severely weakened in today’s ruling
a. the Court’s distinction between pre-viability and post-viability abortions
b. the Court’s promise to uphold a woman’s right to have an abortion without “undue interference from the State”
c. the State’s obligation to provide women a health exception to any procedural ban

• The Court should have deferred to the District Courts’ findings that a health exception is needed since they, and not Congress, conducted extensive hearings with medical professionals who conduct abortions.
a. Abortion rights protect not only the right to privacy but also the inherent dignity of the women who opt for them. The right of a woman to seek her full potential is intimately connected “to their ability to control their reproductive lives.” As such, the Court always required laws restricting abortion rights to include a health provision.
1. When the Supreme Court overturned abortion bans that include no health exception – Stenberg v. Cahart, Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
2. When the Supreme Court overturned abortion restrictions that required women to resort to abortions that were not considered as safe as the one banned – Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth
3. Health exceptions are necessary as soon as “substantial medical authority” rests with those who claim such bans would negatively impact a woman’s health - dissent aside
b. Congress offered no reliably strong argument refuting the claim that partial-birth abortions may be necessary in some instances to protect a woman’s health.
1. The six physicians who testified never performed intact D&E and one, in fact was not even an OBGYN doctor.
2. Act’s recitations are not correct – there are universities that teach intact D&E
3. Congress said partial-birth abortion is never safer or necessary
c. District Courts conducted extensive hearings before refuting Congress’ asserted medical facts.
1. Safety Advantages “marked” for women afflicted with uterine scarring, bleeding disorders or compromised immune systems and “significantly safer” for those afflicted with certain pregnancy-related conditions and for women carrying abnormal fetuses
2. Intact D&E is preferred because (a) medical instruments are inserted into cervix less often, (b) decreases the risk of leaving fetal tissue in the uterus, (c) decreases the chance that fetal bones will damage human tissue, (d) takes less operating time

• The Supreme Court should have overturned the Partial Birth Abortion Ban utilizing heightened scrutiny but erred by upholding it applying rational scrutiny.
a. Arguments Court applies to uphold the Partial-Birth Abortion Act are flimsy and do not withstand heightened scrutiny
1. Since the law only bans a particular procedure it does not save the fetal life its sponsors claim they have a vested interest in preserving (good point)
2. Partial delivery of dead, fully intact fetus resembles infanticide no less than the partial delivery of a live fetus. (no, one may resemble a miscarriage more than infanticide since there would be fetal response to the procedure at the moment of delivery)
3. Moral concerns are not, as this Court cited in Lawrence v. Texas, and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, not enough to validate laws that deprive individuals of liberty. (correct)
4. Court long ago refuted claim that women need men to make their decisions for them. Informed consent requirements would address any concerns that a woman received no information concerning the fetus’ state of nature. (also a good point)
b. Court blurred the line that distinguished between pre-viable and viable fetuses and substituted it for an anatomical reference point. (correct but with the caveat that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban of 2003 is limited in what partial-birth abortion bans are denied)

• Partial-Birth Abortion Act’s lack of a health exemption is unconstitutional on its face (that is, the law is deficient in principle and not merely as applied).
a. Law does not withstand facial challenge
1. Case law affirms claims made by those who say health exemption is required (one need only refer to Stenberg)
2. Standard should be whether the law imposes an “undue burden” on all women seeking an abortion but rather whether it imposes an “undue burden” on those who need a partial-birth abortion (good point again, for if the court were to keep this as their standard for distinguishing between permissible and impermissible abortion restrictions but here’s another caveat – would not the loopholes Kennedy alludes to minimize these burdens?)
b. Reliance upon “as applied” challenges is faulty – risks too much for those who need a partial-birth abortion ban

• Court’s adherence to stare decisis is questionable at best.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Editorial Endorsement? 2

An editorial writer at the The Des Moines Register offers a positive column on former Governor Mike Huckabee.

Censorship

"Constitutionally, we only have a right to stand on a street corner or otherwise self-publish our ideas and words.
But a culture that cheers on collective efforts at suppression of heresy, dissent or other unpopular words is every bit as chilling as one merely enforced by law. And there is usually a political agenda (often hidden) behind such public exhortations to suppression"
- Conservative columnist and editorial writer Tony Blankley of The Washington Times

Overplaying This

Are they overplaying this? These shootings could happen anywhere, on any college, high school, middle school (or even elementary school) campus here or abroad.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Election Endorsement for One of the Unknowns?

One editorial writer at The Des Moines Register wrote a flattering op-ed for Representative Dennis Kucinich. Andie Dominick all but endorsed him. A little to soon no?

First Amendment Censorship Watch

You've got to be kidding me. "Of Mice and Men" too controversial to have on the assigned reading list?

Weird Crime Watch

DVD recordings of sexual exhibitionism and intimate acts were placed on vehicular windshields. The suspected perp who pled not guilty - former boyfriend, who apparently recorded his sexual acts with the ex.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Rush to Gun Control

From the University Policies for Student Life



Section V.W. - Weapons

"Unauthorized possession, storage, or control of firearms and weapons on university property is prohibited, including storing weapons in vehicles on campus as well as in the residence halls. (Note: organizational weapons of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, approved by the commandant, are not prohibited by this policy.)

Firearms are defined as any gun, rifle, pistol, or handgun designed to fire bullets, BBs, pellets, or shots (including paint balls), regardless of the propellant used. Other weapons are defined as any instrument of combat or any object not designed as an instrument of combat but carried for the purpose of inflicting or threatening bodily injury. Examples include but are not limited to knives with fixed blades or pocket knives with blades longer than 4 inches, razors, metal knuckles, blackjacks, hatchets, bows and arrows, nun chukkas, foils, or any explosive or incendiary device. Possession of realistic replicas of weapons on campus is prohibited. Students who store weapons in residence hall rooms, who brandish weapons, or who use a weapon in a reckless manner may face disciplinary action, which may include suspension or dismissal from the university.

Exceptions to possessing weapons may be made in the case of university functions or activities and for educational exhibitions or displays. Such exceptions will be subject to authorization by the Virginia Tech Police. This policy does not prohibit the possession of firearms by persons, such as law enforcement officers, who are authorized by law to do so in the performance of their duties. A weapons storage program is available. Interested persons should contact the Virginia Tech Police (Sterrett Facilities Complex, 231-6411."



This rule is subject to interpretation. Virginia does not actually ban guns from institutions of higher learning but the stated policy here, however vague, appears to ban such weapons from the campus.

Gun control apparently did not help the 32 people the mass murderer killed.

More Coverage from the Unknowns from Iowa

The PoliticalHeretic has to give the Iowa and New Hampshire newspapers some credit. They alone are giving the candidates which the mainstream establishment newspapers on the east coast have avoided the coverage they and the voting public deserve.

For whatever reason, The New York Times, The Washington Post (too a lesser extent), and the cable news outlets (by far the worst in providing information) have focused their attention on the presumed front runners - Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards on the Democratic side and Senatoror John McCain, former Governor Mitt Romney, and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on the Republican side.

These front runners get the most attention because they are they have the name recognition and cash to make them the presumed front runners but the media could level the playing field by devoting equal coverage to the other candidates.

Here, The Des Moines Register covered former Governor Tommy Thompson's (R-Wisconsin) and former Governor Mike Huckabee's (R-Arkansas) appearance at the Warren County Pancake Breakfast held at Christian Union Church in Indianola, Iowa. Both candidates sought to establish the culturally conservative credentials to the Republican base that, we are told by the mainstream press, do not particularly care for the frontrunners.

These voters in Iowa and New Hampshire could now give these second and third tier candidates another look and vote for them. Many, either because they do not believe these candidates could win (thanks to the coverage from the mainstream press and cable outlets) or because they don't find them appealing, won't vote for them. Some, like Mike Huckabee said they will pull out if they don't make it into third or fourth place and that is a shame. The former governor from Arkansas said his campaign would focus on health care and in particular, how the eating choices that we make may add on to the costs of health care. Whether you believe our national government should incentivize good eating habits or not, the voters across the nation should get a chance to think about the issue. Former Governor Tommy Thompson said the Iraqi problem might be solved by federalizing the country along provincial lines. Representative Tom Tancredo's (R-Colorado) uncompromising opposition to illegal immigration offers many voters who feel so strongly about the issue a voice in a debate now dominated by frontrunners who take the opposing view. Most Republican base voters would appreciate Senator Sam Brownback's impeccable socially conservative credentials on gay rights (he opposes them) and abortion (he is against it). His focus on these issues give them a voice on issues up for debate in this country.

Senators Barack Obama and Clinton are the presumed frontrunners but the senator from Delaware (Joe Biden) offers the Democratic voters the leading competing vision on the dominant foreign policy crisis our troops are confronting in Iraq. Governor Bill Richardson's meeting with North Korean officials would give him an advantage in any debate over the North Korean nuclear arsenal standoff.

As voters, we are entitled to hear about the competing domestic and global visions from all of the candidates in both parties as well as any nominee from the leading third parties. They may, afterall, offer us perspectives we may not have otherwise considered.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Election Coverage for the Unknowns

One Republican, one Democrat

1. "There's got to be a lot more diplomacy. We're going to have to engage in conversations — not necessarily negotiations, but conversations — with even the people we don't like," - former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee while on the campaign trail as quoted in The Des Moines Register

The governor also visited Utah where he apparently spoke about unhealthy eating and exercise habits.

The evangelical conservative, the reporters go on to say, supported the troop surge and opposes a troop withdrawal timetable.

2. "I'd ask Bill Clinton to go back to the region, to be there on a permanent basis for a while." - Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) as quoted in The Des Moines Register.

Mr. Dodd was criticizing Mr. Bush for his failure to, in hiw view, negotiate with friend and foe alike. He said voters might consider him if they have doubts:

"I think there is an unease that people are feeling about the leading choices," - the senator said in this report.

Courtesy of MoveOn.org, a "forum" with the Democratic candidates over Iraq.

3. “It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference how much money you have,” - former Governor Tommy Thompson (R-Wisconson).. “You’re going to have so much earned press that it doesn’t matter.” - Unfortunately he is wrong. Now, on to something of substance - The former governor, following in Senator Joseph Biden's footsteps, supports a federalize Iraq plan, as well as traditional Republican concerns.

4. "New Hampshire has a chance to save America, and by reference, to save the world,"
- Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)

We look to you New Hampshre. Save us.

and then...

"How many think it's fair to start talking about impeaching the President?" ...

...I'm listening closely to what the American people have to say, and you'll have my answer within the next month,"


So the public decides if "high crimes and misdemeanors were committed?

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET):
Topics of the Week - Iraq and the commentary for this week's politics. (a) Retired General Anthony Zinni comments on the war in Iraq. (b) Political Roundtable on the 2008 presidential elections, the firing of radio talk show host Don Imus, and more with David Brooks, Gwen Ifil, John Harwood and Eugene Robinson. Host is Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET):
Topics of the Week - the standoff over the war in Iraq and the Don Imus Show's cancellation. (a) Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) on the war in Iraq and the stalemate between the White House and Congress. (b) Reverand Al Sharpton on Don Imus controversy. (c) FOX News Sunday Panel discussion on Senator McCain's effort to revitalize his campaign with a speech on Iraq and the latest political news with Brit Hume of FOX News, William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams of NPR, and Mara Liasson of NPR.. (d) Power Player of the Week - to be posted later. (d) Power Player of the Week - Tom Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive, for uncovering government secrets for a living. Host is Chris Wallace.

3. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET): Topics of the Week - Iraq, including the latest analysis on the bombing of the Iraqi Parliament. Guests will include Senator James Webb (D-Virginia), Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, former speechwriter Amy Holmes, Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman, Richard Perle of the American Enterprise Institute and the Defense Policy Board, Iraqi Government Spokesman Ali Dabbagh, "American Morning" anchorman John Roberts of CNN, CMM Congressional Correspondent Andrea Koppel, and CNN Sr. Legal Analyst Jeffrey Tobin. Host is Wolf Blitzer.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET): Topics of the Week - North Korea and the US attorney scandal. (a) Interview with Governor Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico) on his recent trip to North Korea and his race for the White House. (b) Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) on the showdown with the White House over the US Attorney scandal. (c) Roundtable - Donna Brazile, Robert Reich, Torie Clark, and George Will. (d) Voices - Rich Little on playing presidents. Host is George Stephanopoulos.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:30 AM ET): Topic of the Week - the vice president. Guest - Vice President Richard Cheney. Host is Bob Schieffer.

II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS

1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET): Topics of The Week - Don Imus, Duke Lacrosse Case, and Rudolph Giuliani's Position on Abortion. (a) Don Imus - fairness and double standards. (b) Case Closed - Duke Lacrosse Players acquitted though they were at first presumed guilty. (c) Abortion - how Rudolph Giuliani's pro-choice position may come back to haunt him in the 2008 elections. Co-hosts are Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes.

2. "Fox News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET):
Topics of the Week - Don Imus, Duke lacrosse players, and Brian Williams. (a) Don Imus - media 's two-faced position. (b) Duke Lacrosse Case - media's role. (c) NBC Brian Williams 's annoyance with the "pajama media." Panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler and host Eric Burns.

3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but anyone who is interested in watching it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts that are posted on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is hosted by Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
Topics of the Week - Senator John McCain's Campaign for the White House and former CIA Director George Tenet's New book. Panelists this week include David Ignatious of The Washington Post, Dan Rather at HDNet, Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Andrea Mitchell of NBC.

III. OTHER WEEKEND NEWS/TALK SHOWS


1. "Heartland" on FOX News (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET):
Check back here. Host is John Kasich.

2. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Saturday at 5:00 PM ET):
Topics of the Week - weather on the east coast, Mike Nifong, and the hip hop community's use of offensive language. (a) Weather - "wicked" weather moving east. (b) Imus - double standard in the hip hop community. (c) District Attorney Mike Nifong's chances at getting disbarred. Host is Julie Banderas.

IV. WEEKEND FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS

1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 9:00 PM ET): (a) (b) Bob Brown interviews Shaun Ellis, the man who founded wolf sanctuary Combe Martin Wildlife Park in southwestern England. Jim Avila, Bonnie Van Gilder, and Matt Lopez on the Preacher Predators at Prostestant Churches. Host is John Stossel.

2. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET): "The Puppet Master" - a couple is gunned down and the mystery revolves around who ordered the hit. Troy Roberts reports.

3. "CBS News Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET): Highlights - the class divide, Alfred Taubman, Liev Schrieber, and the "Tiffany Girls." (a) Cover Story: Squeezed:The Middle Class Crisis - Rita Braver looks at the growing economic divide between rich and poor. (b) Art:Tiffany Glass - Martha Teichner reports on the "Tiffany Girls" who made windows, lamps, and mosaics. (c) The Movies - David Edelstein. (d) Sunday Passage - Kurt Vonnegut. (e) People: Alfred Taubman - Anthony Mason interviews Alfred Taubman, the shopping center developer who recently wrote a book about his rise to billionaire status and fall from grace into federal prison. (f) The War - Words from Iraq. (g) On Broadway: Liev Schrieber. Tracy Smith interviews Liev Schrieber, who talks about his eccentric life in the East Village, his acting career and the child he is fathering with Naomi Watts. (h) Opinion - Nancy Giles. (i) Geist: Dog Art - Bill Geist and Tillie the Jack Russell terrier. (j) Nature - spring files. Hosted by Charles Osgood.

4. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
Chasing Life - Dr. Sanjay Gupta reveals ways we can add years to our life.

5. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
(a) Don Imus fired - the latest and a background into why he was let go. (b) "Postcard from New Orleans" - Stone Phillips on the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts from New Orleans' Vietamese-American community.

V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT SHOWS

1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): a student is shot during an assembly held for a conservative speaker. Special guest appearance with Ron Silver. Regular stars include Sam Waterston as Executive Assistand District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, Jessie L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, Milena Govich as Detective Nina Cassidy, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren, and Fred Dalton Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch.

2. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET): Live with Host Shia Labeouf (from Disney's Even Stevens) and musical guest Avril Lavigne.

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET): "A Perfect Day" - a 1965 case is re-opened after some evidence into the murder of a 4-year old girl washes up on the Jersey Shore. Regular stars include Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush, Danny Pino as Scott Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as William Jeffries, and Tracie Thomas as Kat Miller.

4. "Without A Trace" on CBS (Sunday at 10:00 PM ET): "Crash and Burn" - a stuntman disappears after completing a dangerous stunt after receiving a death threat. Regular stars include Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgado.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Censorship Watch

At school - Harford County in Maryland apparently might ban "The Chocolate War" which deals with bullying because it includes vulgar language, sexual conduct, profanity and references to homosexuality.

Rest assured. No vular language, sexual conduct (or references to it), profanity, or references to homosexuality could be found at Harford County schools.

When Not To Use A Gun

Road rage in Iowa.

Election 2008 News and Post Talks

1.. Senator Joseph Biden on The Washington Post's first post talk.

a. Best question that everyone should be thinking about: "Assume the surge works, then what?"
b. Biden Blip - suggesting Iraq is governed by the Sunnis (nope, sorry but he misspoke and the reporters didn't catch it) they are the ones we removed from power). Biden laugh out loud moment: suggesting Hillary Clinton is an "exciting candidate." c. In other news, the senator called for the use of force in Sudan.

Overall, pretty good. I'm glad The Washington Post is doing this for this is probably the one chance you could get a candidate to sit down and chat with reporters for a good 10-15 minutes uninterrupted (well, there were a a few brief commercials). Let's every candidate gets equal time on the post talks.

2. "Many in Washington have called for an end to our involvement in Iraq, yet they offer no opinion about the consequences of this course of action, beyond a vague assurance that all will be well if the Iraqis are left to work out their differences themselves.

It is obviously true that no military solution is capable of doing what the Iraqis won't do politically.

MCCAIN: But, my friends, no political solution has a chance to succeed when Al Qaida is free to foment civil war and Iraqis remain dependent on sectarian militias to protect their children from being murdered."
- Senator John McCain speaking at the Virginia Military Institute.

a. Yes that would be the "chicken or the egg" dilemma we now face. War and diplomacy go hand and hand but the president which the Senator from Arizona uses the military as a poor subsitute for diplomacy and not as leverage for diplomacy.

b. "I criticized the search-and-destroy strategy and argued for a counterinsurgency approach that separated the reconcilable population from the irreconcilable population." - say What?

3. "How would I want my child to be treated if they were of a different sexual orientation?" - Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) , forcing high school students to confront their own prejudices and place themselves in the shoes of their gay classmates.

4. "Hot topics such as the war in Iraq and health care were addressed by Obama."
- an excerpt from this poorly written news story in The Des Moines Register. Umm. So what did Senator Barack Obama have to say about the Iraq war and health care? Don't ask the reporters covering that event.