Yesterday, the Justice Department filed its first appellate brief
challenging trial court rulings which struck down the federal ban on partial
birth abortion. It is here. In Carhart v. Ashcroft, the
government argues that a Nebraska federal district court failed to accord
proper respect for the findings by Congress, developed after 8+ years of
hearings, that the partial birth abortion procedure is never medically
necessary. While the central issue in the case is the constitutionality of
the ban, it also raises important issues about the relationship between
Congress and the courts. The government will be filing separate briefs in
cases in both the 2nd Circuit (New York) and 9th Circuit (California).
Briefing in these cases is expected to take several months, with argument
not likely to be scheduled anytime soon. Expect these cases to take some
time, then, to make their way to the Supreme Court.