Bloggers on the Supreme Court's abortion ruling.

Bloggers on the Supreme Court's abortion ruling.

Bloggers on the Supreme Court's abortion ruling.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
April 18 2007 6:25 PM

Ban Stands

Bloggers react to the Supreme Court's upholding of a congressional ban on partial-birth abortions and try to divine the meaning of "Ismail Ax."

Ban stands: In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has upheld a congressional ban on partial-birth abortion. The verdict is considered a huge victory for pro-lifers by both fans and detractors. In a strongly worded dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that John Roberts and Samuel Alito are chipping away at Roe v. Wade just as pro-choice liberals feared they would.

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Steph Tai at legal blog Concurring Opinions writes: "[T]he Court deferred to Congressional findings in 2003 that partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary. While this is definitely a blow for advocates of abortion rights, I can't say (without further deeper reflection) that I automatically disagree with this approach, in which the majority deferred to Congressional findings, albeit not 'uncritically.' … The key, though, is how this 'not uncritical'examination plays out in the future, and how 'uncertainty' is defined. How much medical disagreement is necessarily to overcome a Congressional finding?"

Righty Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters doesn't see a threat to Roe: "It seems very unlikely that the present court will move much beyond this. Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority decision, and he carefully rested his conclusion on the rarity of the procedure and the minimal effect it will have on abortions in the US. Even if the other four justices vote to overturn Roe -- and there's no indication that Alito or Roberts would do so -- Kennedy very obviously will not, and neither will the other four on the court's liberal wing."

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog comments on Ruth Bader Ginsburg's harsh dissent, which concluded: "A decision of the character the Court makes today should not have staying power.": "That final comment, concluding angry remarks that were delivered without an open display of emotion, clearly was a suggestion that the ruling might not survive new appointments to the Court -- just as the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and, especially, Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. -- had led to the switch she claimed had come about this time. Ginsburg pointedly noted that the Court is 'differently composed than it was when we last considered a restrictive abortion regulation' -- in Stenberg in 2000." Denniston also calls the decision "on par" with Roe v. Wade and suggests the decision will keep abortion a litmus test for judicial nominees.

Abortion-rights advocates are disappointed, if not surprised. Ann Bartow at Feminist Law Professors thinks the "scariest sentence" in the majority opinion is: "The Act's failure to allow the banned procedure's use where 'necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for preservation of the [mother's] health,' … does not have the effect of imposing an unconstitutional burden on the abortion right."

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At a bird and a bottle, Bean, a twentysomething law student in New York, notes that "Kennedy wrote in the opinion that the opponents of the act 'have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases.' Which makes little sense to me at first blush. Just because in the majority of cases a law is not unconstitutional as applied means that it does violate the rights of some. Backwards logic if I ever saw it — a failed attempt to justify an obviously political decision that is bound to do damage to the Constitution."

Read more about the court's ruling.

Ax to grind: Bloggers are desperately trying to determine what the Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui meant by inking the words "Ismail Ax" on his arm before slaughtering his schoolmates and professors. Some think it was an invocation of the Biblical-Quranic tale of Abraham's smashing of idols in Babylonia with an ax and his siring of Ishamel, with whose family line Islam identifies. Others think the allusion was to Moby Dick or James Fenimore Cooper's story The Prairie since Cho was an English major.

Jerry Bowyer at tech blog TCS Daily wonders about Cho's preferred massacre moniker: "Precisely how many mass shooters have to turn out to have adopted Muslim names before we get it? Islam has become the tribe of choice of those who hate American society. I'm not talking about people who grew up as Muslims, confident and secure in their faith, good fathers, sons and neighbors. I'm talking about the angry, malignant, narcissist loners who want to reject their community utterly, to throw off their 'slave name' and represent the downtrodden of the earth by shooting their friends and neighbors."

Conservative Allahpundit at Hot Air posts commenter Ray F's speculation about Ismail Ax: "You probably already know this, but in James Fennimore Cooper's story 'The Prairie,' the settler Ishmael Bush, who is attempting to escape from civilization, sets out across the prairie with two key tools, a gun and an axe. Each has a symbolic meaning. The axe — which can either kill or provide shelter — stands for both creation and destruction. Given that the VT killer was an English major, might this be the likely meaning of the words on his arm? Just my two cents." Reform-minded Muslim blogger Ali Eteraz cites this as reason enough not to automatically equate Ho with Islam. Left-leaning Blogging Bella agrees that this surmise is impetuous.

Other theories about the provenance of Ismail Ax include Cho's gaming nickname or the Turkish rapper Ismail YK. AJ Strata at The Strata-Sphere prefers the former: "Cho was a business major turned English major - which may mean he was not really into literature but was simply searching for any degree he could walk away from school with. I get the feeling the super-recluse was not doing well in college where you have to open up much more in your junior and senior years. And business would not be a good fit for someone who refused to interact with people on any level. So let's just say I would find the literary links possibly a bit out of character."

Read more about "Ismail Ax."

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.