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Capitol Hill on May 23. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court today reinstated an Indiana law that requires the burial or cremation of fetal remains after an abortion. At the same time, it chose not to revive a part of the same law that banned abortions intended to select the sex or race of a child.

Between the lines: The court offered explicit reassurances that its rulings today did not touch the fundamental principles of Roe v. Wade — but the justices' ideological divisions were nevertheless on full display.

Details: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down both parts of Indiana's anti-abortion law, and the appeal to the Supreme Court was seen as a potential referendum on Roe v. Wade.

  • But the court wrote that its fetal-remains ruling "does not implicate" broader questions about women's right to an abortion.
  • And it said it would simply stay out of any debate over sex- and race-selective abortions because only one federal appeals court has dealt with the issue.
  • Those decisions were issued "per curiam," or for the court — a tool the justices employ when they wish to speak with one voice, rather than in a traditional decision written by an individual justice.

Yes, but: Even as the court tried to speak with one voice, it engendered plenty of dissent.

  • Two liberals — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor — said the court shouldn't have gotten involved in the fetal-remains question.
  • And conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote his own opinion about sex- and race-selective abortion, calling it "a tool of modern-day eugenics" and reiterating his opposition to abortion generally.

The bottom line: The court avoided core abortion questions today, but, as Thomas wrote, "cannot avoid them forever."

Go deeper: Where abortion restrictions stand: The states that have passed laws

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
8 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.