Thursday, November 03, 2005

Looking at Judge Alito thru Planned Parenthood v. Casey

Category: Miscellaneous Musings

Much of the debate surrounding Judge Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. as a nominee to the Supreme Court will focus on the issues of "strict" versus "broad" interpretation of the United States Constitution. Since endless debate could surround even the definition of "strict" and "broad" before ever getting to the question of what these terms mean in relation to constitutional law, a better idea might be to look at an actual case where learned scholars explored the elusive "right to privacy" that "strict" constructionists say does not exist in the Constitution, and that "broad" constructionists find implied in the Constitution.

The case to be examined is Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The New York Times reports that Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito told Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that he "spent more time worrying and working" on his opinion in the 1991 Planned Parenthood v. Casey case than any other decision he has made on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey is a landmark decision. The issue before the courts was a challenge to Pennsylvania's 1989 Abortion Control Act, which provided for restrictions on abortions. In Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 744 F.Supp. 1323 (1991), of which Judge Alito was a member, found that:

"Five abortion clinics and one physician (the "clinics") raise a facial constitutional challenge to certain 1988 and 1989 amendments to the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act of 1982 (the "Act"). See 18 Pa. Cons.Stat.Ann. §§ 3201-3220 (1983 & Supp.1991). The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that §§ 3205 (informed consent), 3206 (parental consent), 3209 (spousal notice), 3214(a) (reporting requirements), and 3207(b) and 3214(f) (public disclosure of clinics' reports) violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Commonwealth defendants (the "Commonwealth") appeal. Because we find unconstitutional only § 3209, which requires notice to a spouse of a planned abortion, we will affirm in part and reverse in part."

Judge Alito's dissent focuses on the spousal notification requirements.

The United States Supreme Court took up the case,reviewed and analyze both the majority and dissenting opinions in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992)

Any Supreme Court Justice builds on his or her own judicial experience. To form your own decision of Judge Alito and how he might function on the court, read Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 744 F.Supp. 1323 (1991), including Judge Alito's dissent and the response of the current Supreme Court Justices.

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