Monday, May 4, 2009

Souter retires, women dare to hope

Today over at RH Reality Check, I have a wrap-up of what Justice David Souter's retirement means for women's rights:

Jeffrey Toobin wrote in The Nine, his definitive book on the Supreme Court, that for the past several decades, "There were two kinds of cases before the Supreme Court. There were abortion cases--and there were all the others." And now with Justice David Souter announcing his retirement late last week, it is the first time a pro-choice president has had the opportunity to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court since Bill Clinton appointed Stephen Breyer in 1994.

Souter has maintained a position as an ally of reproductive choice during his time on the Court, despite the fact that he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. He voted in to uphold laws that maintained buffer zones for protesters around abortion clinics and dissented in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, a case that opened up states' ability to place restrictions on abortion. Most recently he dissented on the Court's decision to uphold the partial birth abortion ban. But Souter, despite defending abortion rights, recently said he thought it might be reasonable for a principal to decide to strip-search a 13-year-old girl in an Arizona school district in a recent case.

"At the certain point only women get women's stuff," said Ann Bartow, professor of law at the University of South Carolina and administrator of the Feminist Law Professors blog. Her sentiments are echoed by Joan Walsh in Salon, writing that, "no president has had a better choice of female picks than Obama does."

Janet Crepps, deputy director of the U.S. legal program for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that while her organization would likely not take a stance on whoever President Obama ends up nominating, "We need someone who is not just a vote but a voice."

Go ahead and read the whole thing.

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