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After Roe: An Interview with Jeffrey Rosen

Sara Lipka

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Editor's note: A pro-choicer judicial scholar argues for judicial restraint.

Jeffrey Rosen, the author of the June cover story, on what Roe v. Wade has done to the country, and what might happen without it

It is June 2007. In a bitterly contested 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has just upheld a federal partial-birth abortion ban and struck down the landmark 1973 ruling, Roe v. Wade. The United States Congress and fifty state legislatures are now free to ban, restrict, or protect abortion as they see fit.

The decision sets chaos in motion: the states, Congress, the White House, and the lower courts, which long operated under Roe's rule, are sent scrambling like bugs under a flipped rock. Legislators rush to regulate abortion with either draconian bans or sweeping protections. Voters revolt. Some politicians continue to cater to their bases, dooming themselves to defeat, while others switch parties--or form new ones.

Such is the scenario imagined by Jeffrey Rosen in "The Day After Roe," The Atlantic's cover story for June. To get there, he envisions Justice John Paul Stevens retiring over the summer and Judge Edith Jones--"a fire-breathing social conservative"--filling the vacancy this fall, following a filibuster mounted by the Democrats, which the Republicans rout with the so-called nuclear option. The Court has already said it will hear a constitutional challenge to the federal ban on partial-birth abortions; in Rosen's scenario, the justices narrowly vote not only to uphold the ban but to overturn Roe. Their decision, he writes, "would probably ignite one of the most explosive political battles since the civil-rights movement, if not the Civil War."

Read the entire article on the Atlantic Monthly website (new window will open).

Posted: 13-May-06



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