1. Abortion’s Dred Scott Moment. 

By Timothy Dolan, The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2019, Pg. A13, Houses of Worship
Cardinal Dolan is archbishop of New York. 

After the case wound through the Missouri legal system, the Supreme Court ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857).

In a particularly vicious decision, the court held that the Scotts were not human persons, and thus had no rights. 

The institution of slavery outlived Scott, and in the eyes of the law he remained the chattel of his master. 

Slave owners were subject to a public outcry as they were forced to admit the logical corollary of slavery: The slave was not human, but property, with no rights. 

The ruling emboldened abolitionists, re-energizing their decades-old project to defend the human rights of the black slave.

In the past few weeks, as the constant debate around abortion has become especially heated, I’ve continually thought about Dred Scott. Like slavery did 150 years ago, abortion has deeply divided the U.S. and raised fundamental questions about the nature of our society.

Last month New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act—grisly legislation that permits abortion in many cases up to the moment of birth. It eliminates legal penalties on abortionists who allow an aborted baby, who somehow survives the scalpel, vacuum and dismemberment, to die. It also permits these perilous procedures to take place without a physician present. This was perhaps expected in a state completely dominated by a party that has become increasingly intolerant of pro-life Americans.

I won’t rest until all life is protected from the womb to the tomb, but right now I will at least work hard to enact these reforms as soon as possible. It could help the fever here in this country go down some.

Maybe those politicians who passed the law in New York and tried to do the same in Virginia unintentionally did the country a favor. Today more Americans are admitting, “My God, that’s sure not what we wanted. Doesn’t the baby have any rights?” Perhaps soon, some of many saved babies could be named Dred or Harriet Scott.


2. Justices Block Louisiana Rules Curbing Abortions.

By Brent Kendall and Jess Bravin, The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2019, Pg. A1

A divided Supreme Court on Thursday blocked Louisiana from implementing abortion regulations that could limit the availability of the procedure in the state, in an interim action that could set the stage for the court to weigh in on abortion rights in the near future.

The court’s action, which split the justices 5-4, wasn’t a ruling on the merits of the case but a preliminary order that prevents Louisiana from enforcing the restrictions while abortion-rights advocates challenge a lower-court ruling that sided with the state.

The court’s four liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts joined to block the regulations for now. As is customary when the court issues such orders, the majority didn’t explain its reasoning.

The Supreme Court’s action highlighted the central role of the chief justice, a conservative who not only leads the court but has become its median ideological member since two of President Trump’s appointees have joined. Chief Justice Roberts during this transition has sought to keep the court out of the limelight, and away from the national political turbulence.

The court’s four other conservative justices registered dissenting votes, breaking from the chief justice.

The case provided the first significant test of abortion rights since the July retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee whowas a pivotal middle-ground figure on the issue.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, said he was hopeful the Supreme Court would side with Louisiana if it gives the case a full review. The state law “is constitutional and consistent with our overall regulatory scheme for surgical procedures,” he said.


3. Court’s 5-4 vote blocks La. abortion restrictions.

By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, February 8, 2019, Pg. A1

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined with the Supreme Court’s liberals Thursday night to block a Louisiana law that opponents say would close most of the state’s abortion clinics and leave it with only one doctor eligible to perform the procedure.

The justices may yet consider whether the 2014 law — requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals — unduly burdens women’s access to abortion. The Louisiana law has never been enforced, and the Supreme Court in 2016 found a nearly identical Texas law to be unconstitutional.

The court’s four most conservative members would have allowed the law to take effect. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh said there was a dispute about whether the doctors could obtain admitting privileges, and that a 45-day grace period would have given time to settle that question.

In the court’s 2016 decision, it said the admitting-privileges requirement “provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”

Hospitalization after an abortion is rare, all sides agree, and the lack of admitting privileges by the doctor who performed the procedure is not a bar to the woman getting needed medical care.


4. GOP moves to ignite fresh national debate over abortion.

By Sean Sullivan, Anne Gearan and Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post, February 8, 2019, GP. A4

Republicans are moving aggressively to force Democrats to answer for legislation to ease restrictions on late-term abortions and the recent controversial comments by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, sensing a new opening on a divisive issue that could be a factor in the 2020 elections.

President Trump criticized New York Democrats and the embattled Virginia governor in his State of the Union address this week, accusing lawmakers of allowing “a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth” and Northam (D) of basically stating that “he would execute a baby after birth.”

The push is a part of a broader argument the party is advancing ahead of the 2020 election, with control of the White House and Congress at stake. Republicans are seeking to paint Democrats as a party out of step with the mainstream on several issues, including taxes, health care and abortion rights.


5. Pakistani woman twice cleared in blasphemy case is free to leave country.

By Pamela Constable, The Washington Post, February 8, 2019, Pg. A15

For years, Asia Bibi has been the invisible victim and villain in a high-profile drama that has divided this Muslim-majority nation, set off violent events, and focused world attention on the power of religious extremism and its challenge to the Pakistani state and its powerful security forces. 

Now, with the Supreme Court dismissing an appeal by Bibi’s religious opponents on Jan. 29, the illiterate Christian peasant woman is finally free — more than eight years after she was imprisoned and sentenced to death for committing blasphemy while arguing with Muslim workers in a berry field because she touched a bucket of water. 

“She is free to go anywhere, or to stay in Pakistan under the protection of the state, for the rest of her life,” the country’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, told the BBC in London on Wednesday. 

Even though Bibi has been cleared twice of all charges, her plight has exacerbated the religious and political turmoil surrounding the volatile issue of blasphemy, a capital crime in Pakistan and a frequent excuse for the harassment of religious minorities. Accused blasphemers are at risk of being pulled from jail and lynched by frenzied mobs or even by fellow prisoners or guards.

The religious groups that agitated for Bibi’s execution have been showing increasing muscle in the past year. They staged disruptive protests for weeks in late 2017 and participated in days of violent mayhem after she was acquitted in October, calling for mass uprisings against civilian officials and even a military mutiny. The government finally agreed not to let her leave the country during the appeals process, which critics denounced as a dangerous capitulation to extremism.  


6. In 5-to-4 Decision, Justices Halt Law Curbing Abortion.

By Adam Liptak, The New York Times, February 8, 2019, Pg. A1

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a Louisiana law that its opponents say could have left the state with only one doctor in a single clinic authorized to provide abortions.

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority. That coalition underscored the pivotal position the chief justice has assumed after the departure last year of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who used to hold the crucial vote in many closely divided cases, including ones concerning abortion.

The court’s brief order gave no reasons, and its action — a temporary stay — did not end the case. The court is likely to hear a challenge to the law on the merits in its next term, which starts in October.


7. Judge sides with Christian group in religious freedom case. 

By The Associated Press, February 7, 2019, 12:09 PM

A federal judge has ruled that the University of Iowa was wrong to strip a Christian student group of its registered status after the organization barred a gay student from a leadership position.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie M. Rose on Wednesday granted a permanent injunction banning the university from rejecting the status of the group, Business Leaders in Christ, The Des Moines Register reported.

Rose found that the university had unevenly applied its human rights policy by allowing other groups to limit membership based on religious views, race, sex and other protected characteristics.

“Particularly when free speech is involved, the uneven application of any policy risks the most exacting standard of judicial scrutiny, which the defendants have failed to withstand,” she said.


8. Ralph Northam should be remembered for advocating the slaughtering of deformed babies. 

By Scott Jennings, Opinion contributor, USA Today Online, February 5, 2019, 5:51 PM

Tran’s testimony shocked me, but not as much as what happened next. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam took it a step further by advocating for abortion after delivery.

“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion,” Northam said during a radio interview. Don’t worry — if we miss on the first try we’ll certainly get them on the second, Dr. Mengele.

Northam gave a specific reason for committing this sort of murder — “severe deformities.” Everyone should watch his interview and demand answers from every Democratic candidate they meet. Do you believe in slaughtering children post-birth because of deformities? It’s a simple yes or no question. Don’t let them off the hook in Iowa, New Hampshire or your state capitol.

This all happened a few days after the New York legislature passed and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation allowing abortions up to 40 weeks. Activists whooped loudly in the state Senate chamber as Democrats passed their bill, and more cheered as Cuomo signed it at a pep rally fit for the Grim Reaper.

“This evening is sweet,” Cuomo exclaimed before enraptured liberal supporters, “because we won!” Cuomo even ordered the spire atop One World Trade Center to be lit pink to celebrate. A place built to remember the thousands of innocent lives lost on 9/11 became a monument to the slaughter of thousands of innocent babies.