The Supremes Sing Today

Nov 30, 2005 8:22am

7:57 am EST

THE SUPREME COURT — Did a live-shot for GMA to set up this morning’s oral arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the first abortion case the court has heard since striking down Nebraska’s ban on "Partial Birth" abortion in 2000.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the swing vote in that case, voting against the law as unconstitutional for not providing an exception for the health of the pregnant woman. The New Hampshire law being debated today — which requires parental notification for minors seeking an abortion — also provides no health exception. She could be the swing vote in this case, too, though if she retires before the case is decided next year and leaves a 4-4 tie in her wake, this case might need to be re-argued.

Even at 6:45 a.m., when I arrived at the court for a 7:04 a.m. hit (after CNN’s Bob Franken, before NBC’s Pete Williams, gentlemen both), there were long lines outside the court to hear the case, presumably of activists and law students.

The less-hot button facet of the case is whether Planned Parenthood had the right to stop the law from taking effect before anyone’s rights were (allegedly) infringed by the New Hampshire law. The complaint is based on a theoretical infringement, though Minnesota has a nearly identical parental notification law and no evidence exists of an "undue burden" placed on any of the minors seeking abortions in that state. That’s an important legal issue that the court could very well rule on without taking a position on the lack of a health exception in the New Hampshire law.

I believe the SCOTUS is releasing audiotapes of the arguments, which we’ll incorporate into our spot for World News Tonight… Though no video, there being no Supreme Court Justice Ito.

Ayotte v Planned Parenthood haiku:

From the Court I seek
Not just notification
But Banner’s* consent

* Jon Banner, executive producer of World News Tonight

More later…
Legally yours,
Jake

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