Bench Memos

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Hillary: Words about Partial-Birth Precedent


Hillary Rodham Clinton — not to be outdone by the other Democratic presidential candidates in condemning the pro-democracy Supreme Court ruling restoring choice to Americans on the matter of whether to ban partial birth abortion — shows yet again how the Left mangles the ordinary meaning of words when it comes to abortion.  True to the tradition that invokes the words “choice” and “health” when they have nothing to do with either, she fumes:
“Today’s decision blatantly defies the Court’s recent decision in 2000 striking down a state partial-birth abortion law because of its failure to provide an exception for the health of the mother.” (emphasis added) 

The Supreme Court overrulesdistinguishes, and upholds prior precedents.  Sometimes it ignores them.  But it does not — cannot — “defy” them.  The Court has the authority to overrule a prior precedent that it concludes is in error.  However you want to characterize today’s decision, it did not “defy” the 2000 Stenberg decision.  It’s probably just a word that worked well in her latest focus group.  That’s reason enough for her to “defy” her legal training.


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