Overturned. In a decision that could set a precedent for a dozen states with strict pro-life laws, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal brought by the state of Arizona over the dismissal of its ban on abortion past 20-weeks of development. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the law, ruling it unconstitutional. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer called the lower court’s decision, and the high court’s refusal to hear the case, “a clear infringement on the authority of states to implement critical life-affirming laws.” The Supreme Court’s lack of decision is not the same as ruling against the ban. But pro-abortion groups in other states with similar laws likely will view the refusal to hear the case as a tacit endorsement for their position. Although it technically only applies to Arizona, the high court’s position is a disappointment to pro-life advocates celebrating nationwide legislative victories as the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision nears. As WORLD noted in our annual coverage of the state of legalized abortion, 24 states passed laws in 2013 limiting abortion. A record 87 abortion facilities closed their doors.
Buffer case. Although they won’t hear Arizona’s appeal, Supreme Court justices will hear several cases this term involving pro-life causes. The first one comes before the court Wednesday, when a 76-year-old woman will challenge a Massachusetts law mandating a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion facilities. The buffer only applies to protestors. This selective enforcement, pro-life advocates say, violates their free speech.
Sharon buried. Foreign dignitaries, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, joined Israeli officials for former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s funeral today. Sharon, who spent the last eight years in a coma after suffering a massive stroke, died Saturday. Biden didn’t gloss over Sharon’s mixed legacy, noting he’d left “considerable debris in his wake.” He tempered what could have been interpreted as criticism with this corollary: “History will judge that he also lived in complex times, in a very complex neighborhood.” While Israelis mourned the loss of the ex-general many lauded as a tough, wartime leader, Palestinians celebrated the death of the man they blame for decades of death and destruction.
Ad-gate. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie just can’t catch a break. Last week, Christie dominated headlines after a local newspaper published emails proving members of his staff orchestrated a massive traffic jam as retribution against a mayor who refused to support the governor’s reelection bid. Just when he thought he would get a reprieve from reporters’ questions, Christie finds himself back in the news today with the announcement of a federal probe into the possible misuse of Hurricane Sandy relief funds. The inspector general for the Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to launch an investigation into whether Christie improperly used $25 million in relief funds to produce a tourism ad featuring the governor and his family. The ad might have been designed to draw visitors to the state, but it had the added benefit of giving Christie extra screen time at the height of his reelection effort.