From the Wall Street Journal:
The Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on a disputed abortion procedure, handing abortion opponents the long-awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench. The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and Bush signed into law in 2003 doesn't violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.
So what does this mean, really? I've only just glanced at the ruling, but it appears that the Supreme Court has effectively tossed out the "undue burden" test. It's going to be open season on abortion legislation in the next few years. Expect states and the federal government to pass restrictive laws designed to make it increasingly difficult for a woman to terminate her pregnancy.
And take from this ruling the principle that the President's power to appoint justices to the federal courts really does matter. When Justice O'Connor stepped down from the Supreme Court in the summer of 2005, President Bush appointed Justice Alito to succeed her, replacing a moderate justice with a conservative one. Justice O'Connor was the swing justice on a host of important Supreme Court cases (including the abortion cases) and her replacement by Alito puts a number of precedents at risk.
Expect the Supreme Court to revisit the following issues: the constitutionality of affirmative action programs (a decision will be coming on this issue within a month or two); the constitutionality of direct government aid to religious schools; the constitutionality of displays of the 10 Commandments; the right of patients to get a second doctor over an HMO's objections; and the standard of reasonable competence required by the 6th Amendment on the part of defense counsel. It's going to be a bumpy flight....