A New Ambivalence

Long a black-and-white issue, abortion is now seen more as an argument to be fostered, not settled.

Justice: Bench Player

Walk down the hallway on the second floor of the Supreme Court, through the part of the massive marble building the public never gets to see, just past the chambers of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and you might think you've stumbled into a gallery. The walls of the long corridor are lined with artwork: there's a Georgia O'Keeffe print, a photograph of a Navajo woman (taken by Barry Goldwater) and a framed editorial cartoon of Lady Justice celebrating the first woman named to the Supreme Court....

First Comes Junior In a Baby Carriage

Tara Rhodes always assumed her life would unfold in the usual order--she'd date her boyfriend, they'd get married and then have a kid or two. But then Rhodes, a legal secretary in Philadelphia, learned she was pregnant. She delivered a son, Jalen, five years ago. Though Rhodes's relationship never blossomed into marriage, her boyfriend stuck around--at first. But the couple split up when Jalen was 3. Rhodes, now 35, has no regrets about being a single mom. "A lot of people get married just to...

Where Is the Roberts Court on Race?

The Roberts Court Tackles RaceCrystal Meredith had a simple wish: she wanted her son, Joshua, to attend an elementary school near their home in Louisville, Ky. But when Meredith went to enroll him in kindergarten in 2002, she bumped up against the schools' voluntary integration policy. Designed to maintain racial balance in the once-segregated Louisville schools, the plan lets parents choose among schools in various clusters across the city. But the institutions all strive to keep the number of...

The Military: A Renewed War Over 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

With the democrats in control of Congress, some activists are hoping they'll add a controversial issue to their to-do list: revisiting the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. Gay servicemembers have sought a policy change for years. Now, says Steve Ralls, spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, gay vets hope they might make some progress at a time when the military can't afford to turn away the willing and able. Last year the Pentagon discharged 742 service...

I Don't Have Any More Political Capital, And I Intend To Spend It

President George W. Bush might have taken a "thumping" in the election last week, but that hasn't exactly made him humble when it comes to presidential appointments. First he renominated a handful of controversial judicial nominees who couldn't even get confirmed when the Senate was in GOP hands. Then he made a controversial appointment that doesn't require congressional approval: Today, the administration named Dr. Eric Keroack deputy assistant secretary for population affairs...

Santorum Might Have Won If He'd Just Let Himself Go Gray

Democrats weren't the only big winners in last week's election. Abortion "grays" made gains too. "Grays" are what the Democratic think tank Third Way calls the mushy middle of the electorate when it comes to the thorny issue of abortion. Grays, who make up the majority of voters, think the procedure should be mostly legal or mostly illegal. (If you're not a "gray," according to Third Way, you're a "polar" who thinks abortion should always be legal or always be illegal.)...

Church Meets State

The left often complains that evangelicals have too much influence in American life. But evangelicals themselves grumble that the politicians they help elect leave much of their agenda undone. So what impact has the religious right actually had on public policy? An overview:

Drama in the Court

Even on one of the busiest news days in years—election returns trickling in, the secretary of Defense ousted, the president admitting to an electoral "thumping"—the Supreme Court delivered its own drama with today's arguments over the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. In two cases, Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood , the government argued that Congress has the right to ban what is sees as a barbaric medical procedure. "This is not about fetal demise in utero,"...

Happy, But Not Satisfied

Will last week's New Jersey Supreme Court decision on gay marriage have an impact on next week's election? The ruling opened the door to make the state the second in the nation—after Massachusetts—to allow gay marriage by finding that the legislature must offer same-sex couples some form of marriage or civil union.Gay marriage was one of the hot-button issues in 2004, but Evan Wolfson, executive director of the gay-rights group Freedom to Marry and author of "Why Marriage Matters" (Simon &...

Breaking The Faith

It was just one more thing the White House didn't need weeks before a midterm election: a tell-all book dissing the administration's dealings with social conservatives. Due out Oct. 16, "Tempting Faith," by former Bush aide David Kuo, caused a stir when MSNBC began broadcasting excerpts from an early copy last week. The book faults Bush for failing to deliver on his promises for the faith-based program and depicts a White House that publicly embraced conservative religious leaders with "hugs...

Mitt Really Wanted To Be Here, But He Thought It Would Be More Fun To Speak To You By Video From Someplace Else

The whereabouts of Ann Romney, first lady of Massachusetts, are not usually the stuff of urgent news releases. But this morning the Family Research Council was eager to alert reporters that Mrs. Romney would headline the group's Liberty Sunday telecast called "Defending our First Freedom." The conservative group held a number of these live nationwide "simulcasts" during the '04 campaign to fire up the faithful over issues like gay marriage and "activist" judges. The latest event, to...

The Supreme Court Is Back, With All New Cases Ripped From Today's Headlines

The U.S. Supreme Court opens its 2006 session tomorrow--the High Court's first full term with its two new members, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. In his first months on the bench, Roberts made a pretty big first impression. Last term he persuaded his squabbling colleagues to come to unanimous decisions in 37 of 82 cases. Of course, in his past life as a litigator, Roberts spent plenty of time observing the Justices in their natural habitat. Over the years,...

As Goes South Dakota, So Goes the Nation

All eyes are on South Dakota. At least that was the message at a Washington breakfast this week with leaders of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families. They're all backing a Nov. 7 ballot initiative that would repeal South Dakota's new abortion ban, which outlaws the procedure even in cases of rape and incest. "It's going to be tough, but doable," said NARAL president Nancy Keenan over coffee and doughnuts. "This is not...

Stem Cells: A Papal Study

This week the Holy See will hold its first official international congress on stem-cell research, an indication the Vatican isn't shying away from the science or ethics of the controversial field. Sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, the meeting will focus on alternatives to embryonic- stem-cell research, including adult stem cells and umbilical-cord-blood cells. Two of the most vocal U.S. critics of embryonic research...

Embryonic War

It was heralded as a scientific milestone. Published in an advance online version of the scientific journal Nature, it was touted on the front pages of newspapers across the country. For the first time, scientists said last week, they had derived human embryonic stem cells using a technique that does not harm the embryo--a biological feat intended to assuage religious conservatives and break the impasse over federal funding of new embryonic-stem-cell research. "Up until now, embryonic-stem-cell...

A Hot Case

If you thought only wonks in Birkenstocks cared about global warming, think again. Last week a coalition of green activists, states and cities, religious groups, energy companies and even a ski resort filed briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Environmental Protection Agency should regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. The EPA disagrees, arguing that when Congress passed the Clean Air Act, lawmakers never envisioned a massive greenhouse-gas control program. The court...

The Wedding March

For Seattle-area pastor and gay-marriage opponent Joseph Fuiten, there was little time to savor the good news. Within hours after the Washington Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, to uphold the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Fuiten--who leads a 2,000-member congregation--was drafting a missive about the ruling to send to 30,000 conservative Christian voters. His goal was not to cheer the victory but rather to punish the justices who didn't join the winning side. Two of them are up for re-election...

A New Contract?

His e-mail newsletter reaches more than 200,000 subscribers—and another 1,000 sign up every week. His 90-second radio commentary hits the airwaves on 350 radio stations and is one of the most downloaded political podcasts on iTunes. This month he's releasing a new edition of his best-selling book "Winning the Future" with added chapters on red-meat issues like activist judges and immigration reform. And his busy travel schedule includes a stop to see the "piggies" at the Iowa State Fair this...

Roberts's Rule

The final gavel has landed, the last oyez-oyez sounded for the summer. So how did the new Roberts Supreme Court stack up? Despite this week's contentious decisions on Texas redistricting plans and the legal rights of enemy combatants at Guantánamo, the court struck a more harmonious note overall. Under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, the court handed down unanimous decisions in 37 of its 82 cases and agreed on the outcome in another nine, according to an analysis by Thomas...

Politics of the Altar

Back in 2004, suburban Seattle pastor Alec Row-lands watched with dismay as gay couples in Massachusetts flocked to courthouses and churches, exchanged vows and walked away legally wed. Now he worries a similar scenario could unfold in his own backyard. Last year, the Washington State Supreme Court heard arguments in two gay-marriage cases of its own; a decision is expected soon. In Massachusetts, an obscure law allows only state residents to wed. But Washington has no residency requirements....

A Supreme Bank Shot

During his often mind-numbing confirmation hearings, a polished John Roberts delivered a virtual seminar on constitutional law while managing to skirt most of his own views. Senate Democrats had expected him to stonewall, but Roberts did reveal a few unexpected clues last week. He does, he said, think there is a right to privacy in the Constitution. And he allowed that some of the founding document's wording could be open to modern interpretation. Even to many liberal ears, that didn't sound...

Supremes: Roberts--And Then The Real Battle

The confirmation battle over Judge John Roberts is about to take center stage. George W. Bush quickly nominated Roberts to serve as chief justice--a move the president had considered all along, according to one adviser close to the process who refused to be quoted because of the sensitivity of the deliberations. Roberts could face some tougher questioning as chief, but barring bombshells, the hearings could turn out to be a drama fit only for C-Span junkies.Far more compelling is the battle...

Plan B: Elusive Solution

When the Food and Drug Administration announced Aug. 26 it was again delaying a decision on whether to make Plan B--the morning-after pill--available over the counter for women 17 and older, Commissioner Lester Crawford cited the problem of limiting distribution to younger teens. Now there's a growing chorus of critics questioning the agency's justification for the delay. Dr. Susan Wood, who resigned from the FDA last week in protest, tells NEWSWEEK, "It's just not convincing to me that we...

John G. Roberts: What Answers Is He Going To Give

In 39 arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, John G. Roberts earned a reputation as an unflappable advocate for his clients. But this week, when Roberts testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in his own bid to join the high court, he'll face a different challenge. Instead of sparring with nine erudite justices interested in ferreting out fine points of the law, Roberts will confront 18 senators eager to score political points and rack up minutes on the cable news channels. While the...

Bush's Choice

The choice was contentious even before it was official. The name of John G. Roberts--President George W. Bush's pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor--leaked to the press about an hour before the judge appeared at Bush's side in the East Room of the White House last night. And it wasn't long before dueling e-mails from interest groups began outlining the confirmation battle to come. In their "preax"--reactions in advance--conservatives hailed Roberts as an excellent...

End of Term

It was supposed to be a morning of high drama at the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices handed down the six remaining cases of the term on Monday--including several controversial decisions on the Ten Commandments and Internet file-sharing. But despite widespread speculation that ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist might use the moment to announce his retirement, the nine justices filed out of the courtroom without dropping the slightest hint of their future plans.That doesn't necessarily mean...

A BETTER SAFETY NET

First researchers disclosed fears that popular antidepressants might increase the risk of teen suicide. Then studies linked widely prescribed arthritis painkillers like Vioxx and Celebrex to heart attacks and strokes. And government officials warned that two eczema creams used by 15 million Americans could boost the risk of certain cancers. Just open the newspaper and odds are good you'll be confronted with yet another safety scare over a prescription drug--perhaps even one in your medicine...

Pages