NPR this morning broadcast a story about the release of Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun’s papers, in which the 1992 battle over abortion was described in detail. It’s part of a series that will continue through next week.
In today’s “episode”, Nina Totenberg describes how Roe v. Wade was very nearly overturned
The Blackmun papers reveal that the court’s first vote was to overrule Roe in all but name, Totenberg reports on Morning Edition. But as the issue came to a head, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and the court’s three other anti-Roe justices were blindsided by three centrist justices who worked together in secret to preserve a woman’s right to an abortion.
The 1992 abortion case was Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the first Bush administration was pushing hard for the reversal of Roe, the landmark 1973 ruling authored by Blackmun.
Justice Anthony Kennedy initially voted with the anti-Roe conservatives, giving them a majority of five, but he subsequently changed his vote to support, not eviscerate Roe, the Blackmun papers show. The switch came even as Rehnquist, was circulating a so-called majority opinion that would have left Roe a meaningless shell, Totenberg reports.
In the end, Rehnquist held his ground and wrote the dissent to the case, calling for the overturn of Roe. I think the liberals need to start pointing out the irony of the conservative campaign against “activist judges.”