The U.S. Supreme Court is looking to keep cool the emotions of those on both sides of the abortion debate. The Court just wants to get through its time of transition – with the possibility of Samuel Alito soon taking the seat of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – in one piece.
Justices proved this Wednesday when they sent a New Hampshire law requiring parents to be notified before their minor child with health issues gets an abortion back to an appeals court, as O’Connor wrote of the Court that “we do not revisit our abortion precedents today.”
Conversely, the Court has been more eager to make a ruling in other controversial decisions. On Tuesday, in a 5-3 vote, the justices voted to uphold an Oregon assisted suicide law. This could set a precedent for many other states to create similar laws of their own.
“The favorable ruling by the Supreme Court now permits other states to move forward in replicating Oregon’s landmark law,” said Peg Sandeen, executive director of the Death with Dignity National Center in an Associated Press story.
Creating a precedent on one issue while basically saying, “We’re not going to go there” when abortion laws are concerned hardly seems like a coincidence.
Perhaps the Court’s decision not to tamper with abortion laws comes from the possibility of Alito coming to the bench. Abortion has been a hot button topic as of late – even more so than usual – since it has been the main topic of choice during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings with Alito. An AP story reported that Alito “assured Democratic senators he would take previous rulings into account if confronted as a justice with cases involving abortion rights.”
However, “Democrats were unsuccessful in securing a commitment from Alito that he would vote to uphold the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion,” another AP story reported.
So, the Court may be waiting to set a major ruling on any abortion-related decisions to see how Alito will swing the balance of the court – as he surely will, since he is considered by many as more conservative than the moderate O’Connor, whom he would replace.
Possible history making decisions may be in the future of the Court, but for now, America will just have to sit back and wait until the proverbial passing of the torch is completed in the Court.