by Steven Ertelt
October 27, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — With Harriet Miers taking herself out of the running for the Supreme Court, her decision leaves outgoing pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the court until a replacement is confirmed. That could cause problems for pro-life advocates hoping for favorable decisions on upcoming abortion and assisted suicide cases.
On November 30, the high court is expected to hear arguments in a case out of New Hampshire that involves a parental notification law there.
Typically the Supreme Court has upheld such laws provided they have a judicial bypass provision. However, abortion businesses taking the law to court are hoping to use a 2000 Supreme Court decision striking down a state partial-birth abortion ban to reverse the New Hampshire law.
Abortion advocates say the judicial by pass provision doesn’t help in cases where the teenager may supposedly need an abortion for emergency health reasons. They say a health exception should be included in the law.
The law of a health exception cause the high court to invalidate a Nebraska partial-birth abortion ban five years ago and O’Connor was the deciding vote in the case.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will revisit the gruesome abortion procedure when it considers late next month whether to take a case from federal appeals courts regarding the national ban on partial-birth abortions President Bush signed in 2003.
The high court will also consider a dispute between Oregon and the Bush administration. The president believes federal law gives his administration the right to prohibit the use of federally controlled drugs in assisted suicides since they don’t constitute a "legitimate medical purpose." Oregon, the site of the nation’s only law legalizing assisted suicide, disagrees.
How much O’Connor is involved in upcoming cases depends largely on the speed with which the president replaces Miers’ nomination and how quickly the Senate is willing to take up the new nomination and vote on the nominee.
The Senate had been scheduled to hold hearings on Miers on the week of November 7 and to have a full Senate debate and vote shortly before the Thanksgiving recess.
The president will likely nominate someone to replace Miers as early as the beginning of next week. However, whether the Senate will hold hearings and vote prior to breaking for Thanksgiving — which could make the end of the session for the year — is a key question.
O’Connor could be on the court in time for the hearings in the New Hampshire case, but not around when the justices take a vote later in the term, which continues into next year.
If a nominee is confirmed between the hearings and the vote, Chief Justice John Roberts could ask the new justice to listen to taped arguments, read the legal papers and cast a vote. Roberts could also order new hearings to allow the new judge to participate in the case from the beginning.