1. The Abortion Scare Campaign, Why Roe v. Wade and same-sex marriage are likely to survive after Kennedy. 

By The Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2018, Pg. A14, Editorial

Some things in politics are predictable—a New Jersey tax increase, a “no” vote by Senator Rand Paul, and an abortion-rights scare campaign every time a Republican President makes a Supreme Court nomination. And sure enough, the predictions of doom for abortion and gay rights began within minutes of Anthony Kennedy’s resignation last week. These predictions are almost certainly wrong.

The liberal line is always that Roe hangs by a judicial thread, and one more conservative Justice will doom it. Yet Roe still stands after nearly five decades. Our guess is that this will be true even if President Trump nominates another Justice Gorsuch. The reason is the power of stare decisis, or precedent, and how conservatives view the role of the Court in supporting the credibility of the law.

Our view, supported by more than a little reporting, is that even though they think Roe was wrongly decided, most of the current conservative Justices would shy from overturning it and handing abortion law entirely to the states. The exception is Justice Clarence Thomas, who has made his intentions clear.

A post-Kennedy Court is likely not to overturn Roe and its successors but it will probably uphold more state restrictions. This won’t please some social conservatives, but it would put U.S. law close to where American public opinion is—keeping abortion legal but making it rarer than it now is.


2. Abortion, Roe—and Trump, The Supreme Court is the Democrats’ preferred legislature for social issues. 

By William McGurn, Columnist, The Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2018, Pg. A13, Opinion

Whenever a Supreme Court seat opens up during a Republican administration, headlines start warning that American women will soon be in for a new Dark Ages if Roe v. Wade—the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion across all 50 states—is overturned. This time around, with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, the fifth vote to overturn Roe has just become a numerical possibility.

Unfortunately, what ought to occasion a healthy debate over a contentious issue once again looks to be clouded by a handful of dubious orthodoxies. In rough order, they are as follows:

First, that Roe is the settled law of the land.

Second, that litmus tests are bad and unhelpful.

Finally, that an individual’s stand on abortion determines where he stands on Roe.

Start with settled law. The obvious reality is that Roe remains one of the most unsettled decisions in the history of the high court. After all, if one seat change will really mean the death of a nearly 50-year-old precedent, the ruling can’t be as settled as claimed.

In fact, the fundamental legal objection to Roe (and the follow-up, Planned Parenthood v. Casey) isn’t moral. It’s that it substitutes the views of a handful of unelected men and women in robes for the democratically expressed wishes of the American people. And many excellent jurists who are personally pro-choice rightly regard Roe and Casey as terrible decisions precisely because they appreciate the violence Roe does here.

This pro-life columnist embraces all the arguments about the need to protect the most innocent and vulnerable among us. But the Constitution says nothing about abortion. All government of, by and for the people guarantees is that such issues are to be decided by the American people themselves, acting through their elected representatives.

So when it comes to seating the Supreme Court’s next justice, here’s hoping—for the sake of both the unborn and American democracy—it will be someone who, regardless of his or her own views on abortion, recognizes that a justice’s main obligation on this issue is to ensure a fair and democratic fight, the winner being the side that persuades their fellow citizens of the justness of their cause.


3. The Supreme Court Pick Who’ll Troll Liberals the Hardest.

By Matt Lewis, Daily Beast, July 3, 2018, 5:06 AM

According to the latest reports, Donald Trump has settled on a shortlist of five potential Supreme Court Justice nominees, which includes two women.

The leading contender in the female division is Amy Coney Barrett. And as Ramesh Ponnuru has written, Trump should pick her.

But I’ll go one step further: I think Trump will pick her, and that things will heat up fast when he does.

For conservatives, this would be exhilarating, but Barrett’s obvious appeal is a double-edged sword. The very things that make her such a compelling pick (her judicial philosophy and qualifications, as well as the chance to dare Democrats to try to take down a highly-qualified female nominee) also make her a threat to a Democratic party that is increasingly wedded to identity politics.  

Barrett’s involvement in the “People of Praise,” a 3,000 member-strong charismatic Catholic movement, which focused on the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, will surely be used to make her look like some weird extremist. Ed Whelan previously pushed back on some of what many conservatives saw as “anti-Catholic bigotry” here and here—but he will have his work cut out for him if she’s the nominee.

Regardless, the group has been embraced by Pope Francis, who welcomed them to Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church, and who appointed Peter Smith, a People of Praise member, to be Auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon.

We saw the foreshadowing of this play just last year when Sen. Dianne Feinstein said, during a hearing, to Barrett: “You have a long history of believing that your religious beliefs should prevail,” adding: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.”

Barrett would be a solid pick from a philosophical standpoint and from a political standpoint—which, ironically, means she is more likely to evoke intense pushback from liberals.

Now, to some Republican presidents, the potential for controversy would be enough to scare them away. But Donald Trump likes this kind of clash—and it’s one fight that I believe he can win in the court of public opinion. That’s why I think Barrett has a good chance of being nominated and confirmed.  


4. The Supreme Court rules to favor pregnancy centers. 

By Jeanne Mancini, Jeanne Mancini is president of the March for Life, The Washington Times, July 3, 2018, Pg. B4

The mission of the pro-life movement has always been to “love them both” — protecting the innate human dignity of both mother and child. There is no better example of carrying out this mission than pro-life pregnancy care centers, the kind involved in the Supreme Court case NIFLA v. Becerra. In that case the right of pregnancy care centers to continue providing compassionate, life-affirming care to expectant mothers and their babies was just upheld.

The sole focus of pro-life pregnancy centers is the well-being of mother and child. Unlike many abortion clinics, including our nation’s largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood, these centers do not financially benefit from women terminating their pregnancy. They are not commercial enterprises, but rather places of refuge, charity, and hope. Their goal is to ensure every woman that walks through the door feels confident that she is not alone, and empowered in her decision to choose life.

At issue in NIFLA v. Becerra was whether pro-life pregnancy centers should be compelled to directly undermine that life-saving goal by promoting or advertising abortion.

Compelling these life-affirming pregnancy centers to promote abortion not only violates the first amendment right to free speech, it undercuts their very reason for existence. Since 2016 pregnancy care centers have been forced to promote abortion with explicitly visible signage and they even are obliged to pay for those signs. Some must be posted in 13 different languages and include the phone numbers of local abortion providers.

The decision in NIFLA v. Becerra was pivotal not just for pro-life pregnancy care centers but for everyone who benefits from charitable activity in the United States. Thankfully, the Supreme Court found that the government cannot compel and regulate charities to advertise and speak in a way that undermines their own mission. The decision in favor of pregnancy care centers recognizes our First Amendment rights, and the right of all organizations, including pro-life pregnancy care centers, to freely carry out their mission without undermining it. We are grateful that these centers and the critical services they provide to mothers and babies are allowed to keep their doors, and their hearts, open.


5. Question of female deacons surrounds Amazon synod. 

By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency, July 3, 2018

While a veteran Vatican journalist has suggested that the 2019 Synod of Bishops from the Amazonian basin might open the door to the appointment of women as deacons, recent comments from the Vatican’s doctrinal chief imply that is not likely to be the case.

In a July 1 blog post, veteran Vatican journalist Sandro Magister argued that Pope Francis this year has made three major “u-turns” on key topics, noting that the pontiff has not been clear on whether the “reversals” are “definitive and sincere.”

Buzz about the possibility of ordaining women as deacons first flared up in 2016, when Pope Francis established a Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate, naming current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, as head of the 12-member group.

Since his appointment to the commission Ladaria has been mostly silent on the issue. However, in comments to the press June 26, the prelate said the group’s job is not to determine whether or not women can be made deacons, but to study what was done in the past.

Whether the topic of the women’s diaconate will be discussed during the 2019 Synod on the Amazon region remains to be seen. And while Magister seems confident of the outcome in this regard, Ladaria appears to have another conclusion in mind.


6. Judge extends halt to Arkansas abortion pills restriction. 

By Andrew Demillo, Associated Press, July 2, 2018, 8:01 PM

A federal judge on Monday extended a halt she had imposed on an Arkansas law that critics say would make the state the first in the nation to effectively ban abortion pills.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker granted a preliminary injunction preventing Arkansas from enforcing the law, which says doctors who provide the pills must hold a contract with a physician with admitting privileges at a hospital who agrees to handle any complications.

A 14-day temporary restraining order Baker issued against the law expired less than an hour before the judge’s latest ruling.

Baker’s ruling said the abortion clinics must continue trying to find contracting physicians, but said the state cannot impose any civil or criminal penalties on them for continuing to administer the abortion pills. Baker ruled that the requirement imposes “substantial burdens” on a large fraction of women seeking medication abortions.

The U.S. Supreme Court in May rejected Planned Parenthood’s appeal to reinstate Baker’s 2016 preliminary injunction blocking the law. Planned Parenthood said its two facilities and another unaffiliated clinic in Little Rock had stopped offering medication abortions because of the restriction.

Baker’s latest decision could wind up back before the Supreme Court, where Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement has created uncertainty about the future of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion.


7. Cake and conversation with the pope. 

By Lauren Young, Reuters, July 2, 2018, 11:46 AM

Philip Pullella brought three digital recorders and a cake made with leftover bread to his exclusive two-hour interview with Pope Francis in the pontiff’s private residence on June 17.

Francis spoke on and off the record about a wide range of topics, including religion in China reut.rs/2K3fBOj, the abuse scandal in Chile reut.rs/2IHLiIp, U.S. immigration policy reut.rs/2K5am0F, Myanmar reut.rs/2ytieVg and reform reut.rs/2KkGNIr within the Catholic Church.

“My rule on covering the Vatican is to take religion out of the story whenever possible,” Pullella says. “I cover it as an institution, as I would the United Nations or the White House.”

“He didn’t speak in one-sentence answers,” Pullella adds. “It was more like a conversation.”

Pullella’s conversation with Francis, conducted in Italian, led to seven different exclusive stories, the most recent about the pope’s power reut.rs/2yJ3zoS, published on June 27.